I thought a great deal last week about the type of path I chose for college. Every now and then I would look around my peers, and – I must be honest here – I thought their lives were easy. I envied those students who had the chance to live on campus and have either no job or a small part-time job. They were able to devote themselves to school, friends, hobbies, trips, ministry opportunities – everything but work. This is one of those areas where I truly believe my college experience was far different than that of most students, especially young ones.
Since I was 16, I have always had a knack for work. For some reason, there was something about having a chip on your shoulder and overcoming odds and outperforming your peers for pay that appealed to me. Even though I was never a responsible person at home, I found it in myself to push harder at my job because I looked to the more tangible benefits. I regret the person I was to my parents as a child and young teenager because I was lazy. There is no other way of saying it. Somehow, by a miracle of God, that did not totally translate to the jobs I had through college.
The passion and drive for hard work that I felt pushed me to success. Don’t buy into that kind of thing? Well, I did. And it got me three management positions and three promotions. Maybe the desire to work came from one of the deepest fears I had in high school – paying for school. Even the most affordable universities sounded extremely expensive to me (they still do). I hated the idea of loans from the beginning and made it my resolution to never take one out. It’s strange how things unfold. I never would have imagined being married by the end of school, but that is exactly what happened and it ended up being one of the many things that kept me from student debt.
One of the things I am most looking forward to is having a five-day weekends-off kind of job. That kind of thing has never happened. I am also greatly anticipating working 40 hours and having no homework. It has been about three years since I started full-time work. For a while I had a break, but there was also a time when I worked full-time for Express, part-time for Banana Republic, and had a full load of classes. That semester was the hardest to get through. Switching my major from management to accounting didn’t make my life easier either, so I’m glad to be done!
All of that said, if I were to go back there wouldn’t be much to change. Maybe I would have stayed at Domino’s a little bit longer, but I still don’t regret leaving in the least. Switching to accounting was probably some of the best advice my father-in-law Bruce has ever given me, and he has given me a lot of good advice. You see, aside from going to ASU or getting an internship, my time in college has given me advantages over almost every other person in my classes. Many of them are getting ready to take on a much larger workload; mine will likely be going down. Many of them have their shiny A’s and B’s; I have experience. Yes, they have burned the midnight oil – but have they acquainted themselves with that time of morning before the sun rises?
All of these things somehow made it worth it. There were countless parties and gatherings and events my wife had to attend alone only to hear people ask repeatedly, “Where is Jon?” Those who did ask that question got used to hearing the familiar theme, “Work.” And now that it has been so long, perhaps I have worked too much. Perhaps I need rhythm and more time to do what God made my one life to do. It is time to hang up the student-worker title and move on to all those things that I missed.
No one wants to come to the end of their lives saying, “Gosh, I didn’t really accomplish anything in life other than what I did in my job, but I was a great worker!” God placed me in a time and season where it was appropriate and necessary to work full-time and go to school. It came at a great price. And few people I know were willing to pay that price. Few know the difficulties and stresses that I have faced for these couple years. But finally it is time to move on to ministry because that is ultimately what I was made to do.
For some, work is the focal point of life. They run to it. They think about it when they’re off the clock. For others, it is the burden of life. They run away from it. All they can think about while they are working is getting off. For me, it is somewhere in between. And as a matter of fact, I don’t know that I care that much as long as I can be the person that God created me to be – at work or at home, on earth or in heaven.