Monday, September 27, 2010

Is Everybody Just Working for the Weekend?

Dear Jocelyn, 
I am a Christian, and I have a difficult time enjoying my work. I have a great job, great environment and co-workers, but the work that I do on a day-to-day basis does not strike my interest in the least. I'm thankful for having a job, and I definitely produce satisfactory work, but still find it difficult to motivate myself to work hard and excel past normal performance. Are we, as Christians, supposed to find something that we are passionate about for a career, or are we supposed to 'work to live' as opposed to 'live to work'?
-Bored at Work

Dear Bored,
I once heard it said that the problem of thinking we must "enjoy" our work is a modern problem. Think back hundreds of years—my guess is that most serfs and farmers did not enjoy their year-round, backbreaking labor. They toiled diligently in order to provide for their own—a very noble cause. 1st Timothy 5:8 states: "If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."

I, however, do not believe that desiring to enjoy our work is solely a modern concern. Throughout history, we have countless examples of men and women who enjoyed what they did and believed it to be a calling, not just a job. Think about St. Paul, who was a full time missionary. Or Michelangelo, who produced numerous works of beautiful art (and likely enjoyed doing so!).

There is a compromise between believing that one must work solely to eat and provide, and believing that one can only be fulfilled by finding their calling. There are some people for whom their career path is clear before them—these have "always known” they wanted to become a writer, police officer, doctor, etc. Those people have been blessed to have a path stretched before them to follow. For some people, though, the path is a little more muddled. And for those who belong to this category, I do not think it wise to simply be unemployed or underemployed until they stumble upon their true calling. If you are unsure of your perfect career path, find a job that suits you and your talents. It might not be ideal or make you feel fulfilled, but it will keep you sheltered and fed, and allow you time to think about a job that might better suit you. I recommend you remember that whatever you do, you ought to do it for the glory of God. That doesn't mean being wildly enthusiastic about boring work, but rather reminding yourself, when you feel dissatisfied about what you are doing, that God has blessed you with a good job, and you should try your best. As the Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:7, “[do] the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will, as to the Lord and not to man.”

If you are interested in pursuing different jobs, I recommend reading this book to aid in your search:48 Days to the Work You Love.  It is an excellent guide to learning what you are passionate about and how to pursue that wholeheartedly.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Is Grabbing Extras Unethical?

Dear Jocelyn,
I am a firm believer in taking extra packets of ketchup, mustard, hot sauce, sugar, salt, pepper, and artificial sweetener when they are available. However, a friend recently gave me a funny look as I packed my purse with packets. Is it ethical to take more than I need? Personally, I think if they leave them out I should be able to take all I want.
     -Packet Hoarder

Dear Hoarder,
This is a tough question, as I have been known to take more napkins than I need, or an excessively liberal number of ketchup packets. However, although the question may be difficult, it is one that requires an honest, if somewhat uncomfortable answer. The short answer is no, it is not ethical to take more ketchup, salt, or sugar packets than you need. If you ask any restaurant owner, they will inform you that the availability of such condiments is not to encourage a free-for-all, but to provide easy access to commonly asked-for items. In fact, to purposefully take more than you need for that meal can be considered stealing, since the restaurant's goal is to provide you with such items for a single meal, not the rest of your life. Think of it this way—if you invited a friend over for a cup of tea, and she proceeded to take two packets of sugar for her tea, then twelve packets "for the road," you would probably be offended, correct? At the very least, you might think it a bit strange. While it is easy to view a business as impersonal and inhuman, it is in fact run by people who should be given the same consideration you might give a friend in that circumstance.

That being said, it is not necessary to carefully calculate your exact ketchup usage for that meal's French fries. A good faith effort to take what you will probably need is all that is required. If you are dining in an establishment, and you have leftover condiments, the polite and ethical thing to do is to put them back (if it is sanitary to do so—I would not necessarily put napkins back). If you are taking your food home, take what you think you will need. It is not necessary to return the unused packets in that circumstance. Consider the earlier example—if you stopped by a friend's place and had to leave before drinking your tea, she might give you a to-go cup and several sugar packets. She might even send you with a few extra "just in case." When deciding how much ketchup to take home, the most important consideration is the attitude and motivation you have for taking that amount.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

How Would You Answer?

It's time for "How Would You Answer?"! It's your turn to try answering questions. Below is the featured question for this contest. Email me at (or use the form to your right) if you have an answer for them! The best responses will be posted next week by Wednesday. After that, I will take a vote of the single best response, and that person will win a free copy of the book, "Boundaries"!
Dear Jocelyn,
Under what circumstances would you recommend relocating for a relationship? I want to date a friend of mine who lives in another city, and I think the only way this will move forward is for us to live closer to each other and spend more time together. I'm trying to decide whether moving to his city would be a good idea or if I should try other options first.
-Willing to Relocate