A Note from Jeff, I'm excited and grateful that Ben Smith is contributing to the blog. Ben has a B.A. in English from the University of California, Berkeley. He currently works for Sutter Health Care for Home as Materials Management Coordinator. He and his wife, Marie, have been married for almost a year. Ben's a great writer, a deep thinker and a sincere and generous guy.
Lately, I've been wondering if it's possible to develop OCD.
I'm the first guy to admit that the term OCD is overused; I think it's thrown around in attempts to explain our little quirks and habits. But personally, I have been noticing "symptoms," as it were, when I am at my job. Constantly checking and rechecking my clothes to ensure I'm making a good impression. Writing out long and complicated schedules and checklists. CC'ing myself on emails that I send to make sure the recipient responds.
Yes, most of this is just being obsessively thorough, which is practically part of the job description. But the more insidious danger that I've noticed recently is that part of me thinks that my work for the Kingdom can be measured in completed tasks and good performance reviews.
This is not far from the beliefs of the Pharisees, whom the less fastidious Jesus railed against. Work can become legalistic for us, and we can feel worthless or worthwhile based on how well we do it. While there are many tangible ways in which our faith can be expressed, it's unlikely that God will ask us how many spreadsheets we compiled in our lifetime, and assign crowns accordingly.
Thankfully, though, work and belief in Christ can be - and should be - brought together. I'm not saying that you should read your Bible at work and tell your boss that "you answer to a higher employer." That's a great way to begin using your talents elsewhere, and it's a swing in the totally opposite direction. But think about why you work. You can probably give Biblical reasons, political reasons, social reasons for why human beings work. But why do you, personally, work? Why do you work where you do? Is your job, as Frederick Buechner put it, "where your deepest desires and the world’s greatest hunger meet"? Is it a means to an end, and if so, is that what God is asking of you at this point in your life?
I probably can't answer those questions for you, and you probably can't answer them all at the moment. But this Thursday morning, when most of us are wondering how we're going to make it to Friday afternoon (and I raise my large americano to you), and others of us are between jobs, take a minute or two to reflect on why God has brought you where you are, and where you're going in your work.