Aligning Your Life Part 2: Effortless Work
Earlier this year I wrote a blog about four areas in my life where I'm seeking alignment: vocation, location, profession and family. Today, I want to explore the profession element.
Rabbi Michael Strassfeld teaches that a job should not drain energy from your ability to study Torah (the First Testament Scriptures). Your job might not add energy to your spiritual life, but at the very least it should not be an energy drain. Now, we all go through seasons at work where we press through difficult projects or circumstances, but this isn't his point. If your work is draining you for an ongoing season, you might want to take a look at your work and ask if it aligns with your vocation, that voice or flow that comes effortlessly though your life. Then, consider how you might, over time, be able to do more work that adds energy, rather than drains it.
Take my friend Dexter for example. He tells me that he's had three dream jobs, though I don't know what the first one was. His second job was working at a prison training and running hounds to track fugitives. His third job is his post-retirement gig of running an inshore charter company where he takes people fishing. Do you see the thread? Dexter loves nature. His work and vocation couldn't be any better aligned.
Thomas Merton writes: "A man knows he has found his vocation when he stops thinking about how to live and begins to live...Work no longer interferes with prayer or prayer with work. Now contemplation no longer needs to be a special 'state' that removes one from the ordinary things going on around him for God penetrates all."
We can all experience God penetrating our work, regardless our profession, but when we align our profession with our vocation, the flow is cleaner and clearer.
This alignment takes time and is often not an option for many at various points of life due to circumstances beyond control. In these cases, perhaps the work/vocation alignment takes shape in the form of a side job or short-term project. Nevertheless, we can all pray for work where we can look up at the end of the day and say, "I was made for this." Until then, we embody Solomon's words: "There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God" (Ecclesiastes 2:24).
Even if we can't do the work we want, we can experience the work of the Spirit in the work we have.