Faith and Work

Every new quarter (much better than a semester format) at Furman University, I felt a pit in my stomach. I would look at all the work listed on my class syllabuses, and feel overwhelmed.

This was the life of a chemistry major (it was kinda' tough) at a liberal arts college (that part was really tough).

Especially my last couple of years, when I had my hardest classes, I realized that I couldn't do it. I knew that I could not make the grades I wanted, while also playing football, all by myself.

It was a time to pray and trust God. And that's what I did. As soon as I saw my syllabus, I would pray for God to help me through the term.

And then was a time to buckle down and get to work.

My New Job

I'm in a similar situation now. Yes, I'm back at Furman, but not as a student. I now work for the university, in a part-time job at the Shi Center for Sustainability. I am the Program Coordinator for the Community Conservation Corps.

The short description is that I help low-income families get free assistance with weatherization for their homes. The shorter description is that I'm a project manager, a set of responsibilities that's completely new to me.

And that's why I'm praying. I have had a lot to learn, in my two weeks of overlap with the previous coordinator (whose last day is today). So that leaves me, and a student worker (who will be done in a few weeks), and my boss (who is on maternity leave).

So that leaves me. And God. (And, of course, a great team of folks at Furman who will do everything they can to help me succeed in this role.)

I'm thankful to be in this role. And I see how my skills and experiences (especially community connections) will add value to this program.

But I almost turned this job down.

The Job Before Me

I applied for the job last month, and was invited for an interview. I was pretty surprised when I received a call a few days later offering me the position. During the interview, I didn't think they were impressed by what I could offer, for what the job needed.

But they made an offer, and I asked for the weekend to talk with my wife and think about it. And I very nearly said "no." I reasoned that . . .
  • Project management wasn't what I wanted to do. I thought God was drawing me to work with kids and youth. 
  • The 20-hour work week would limit my time with my job with Elevate Youth, and other youth-related opportunities that would come up. 
  • The job didn't pay as much as I thought it would.

But by Monday, I knew I needed to take it, and I'm glad I did. And that weekend's sermon from Grace Church was a key part in my decision (Coincidental timing? I think not.)

In hearing this sermon on the miracle of God providing manna, God showed me:
  • This was the job He put before me. He might use it to open new opportunities down the road (and of course, He may not). 
  • I need to trust God enough to work diligently
  • I need to be willing to work in a job that I don't necessarily enjoy.  
  • I need to look for ways to meet the needs of those around me. And this job is such an opportunity to do that. 
Above all that, God has created a world where faith is required (Hebrews 11:6). This job at Furman, like my years of schooling at Furman, is a way for God to drive me to trust in Him.

As with my teaching job at Lead Academy, God can do a great thing, and it will be all because of His grace.

My Other New Job

In September, I will be starting another new job. I will be teaching a 6th grade math class at Upstate Homeschool Co-Op, where our kids have attended. It's a new class for this co-op, and I'll teach two days per week, for an hour each day, for 24 weeks.

I've got some work to do, if I want to make this class engaging and helpful for 6th graders.

Again, I'll be depending on God for His grace and help.

More Great Teaching 

I've also been learning a lot about work through some other great teaching from Grace Church. A group of eight of us guys are meeting weekly to discuss the material called A Man and His Work. Like the above-mentioned sermon on manna, these teachings come at just the right time.

Here are some of my take-aways:
  • God is a worker, and in my work I reflect His image
  • I need to make money to provide for my family (as I wrote here).
  • Skillful and excellent work glorifies God.
  • I should provide something or some service that makes the world better
  • Work shapes character
  • I need to take Jesus to work, especially by praying through the day.

I look forward to growing in my new jobs (and my "old" one), and for seeing how God works through them, and in me.

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