Saturday, April 20, 2013

Thoughts on working

How do you evaluate (or value) your work? This is on my mind right now as I evaluate student term papers and see the annual gap between students who take instruction and requirements to heart and students who don't.  It's obvious pretty quickly what a person values by what he or she brings to the table with work.

For some, the measure of value is money.  Do I put effort into something that isn't going to enhance my earning potential or professional reputation?  As an English teacher, I'm painfully aware of this standard in my students.  Many opt for minimal effort because they won't "need" writing skills, or so they think.

Closely related to pay is the "grade", which is essentially the measure another person puts on your work.  This is part of a good reputation, and isn't something to be dismissed lightly, but it won't necessarily carry you through working with integrity in situations where no one is going to give you any feedback.

Some folks are perfectionists.  They aren't satisfied unless their efforts yield a flawless or faultless result.  It's awfully hard to sustain perfectionism in every area, though, since we're finite.  Granted, some can do better/last longer than others, but I haven't know any perfectionists who haven't crashed and burned at some point along the way.

There is a balance I've been aiming for over the past few years, and it's closely tied to a model of growth and Biblical evaluation.  Paul says in Colossians, "And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord..." (3:23)  The point of value here is my heart. The emphasis is on perspective, not performance.  This doesn't allow room for apathy, or blowing things off, but it does allow for the reality of human shortcomings.  My "heartily" working with our checkbook isn't nearly as easy or satisfying as my "heartily" writing a book review.  However, the value is in the Evaluator - God views my work and sees the effort in context of my giftings and responsibilities.  And there's room for me to accept that, in some areas, I'm never going to be excellent in terms of performance compared to other people.  But, that doesn't make my work less valuable or unimportant in the perspective of eternal value. 

So, I'd better get back to work!