Until two years ago I hadn’t gone looking for a job in over 20 years; in all that time, jobs had always found me. But in 2007, upon leaving the airport chaplaincy at Schiphol on my own accord, suddenly I was thrust back into the world of resumés, interviews, and online employment databases. The result has been a short string of interesting interim appointments, but nothing suitable for the long term.
A couple of weeks ago my friend, Bruce, and I went along to a jobs fair held especially for women and well-educated non-Dutch men. I had never been to something like this before and thought it would be interesting. Our wives thought it might be too interesting, and gave us quite the ribbing before-hand, knowing, as we did, that there are considerably more women in this country than individuals of the other category. Never mind; we had a fun day.
Bruce showed me three different versions of his CV, to be distributed according to the interests of the person he was talking to. So now I’ve got different versions too – all of them equally truthful, but viewing my life through lenses of distinctly different colors. It’s amazing how interesting, purposeful, and well-planned my life can sound when I make the effort. Why, I’m qualified to do all sorts of things!
I’ve seen a number of books purporting that Jesus was a top manager by the standards of current management practices. They are all written by Christian CEO-types who see Jesus reflected in themselves. (Was it Blaise Pascal who said, “God created man in his own image, and man returned the compliment”? Something like that.) I’m glad people can relate Jesus to their own lives, but I’m not convinced he put best business practices high up on his to-do list. I mean, if you had a small operation getting started and you had four successful businessmen and a top-notch tax expert in your team, would you instead give the treasurer’s job to the unknown quality of Judas Iscariot? And would you keep him at it even when it became a well-known secret that he was pilfering the money bag?
I’m convinced that, in the Kingdom of God, the job often goes to someone less qualified than the rest, just to mix things up a bit. There are times when personal growth is more readily achieved by having to sit on the side-lines, watching some bozo do the job instead of you. One quickly learns that it was never about the job or the bozo, never about efficiency or skills-match in the first place; it’s about relationships and one’s own character.
Then there are those times when someone else screws up our plans. Do you remember the leper whom Jesus healed, and who was told to keep his mouth shut about it? Well, he didn’t; instead, he spread the news far and wide. As a consequence Jesus was no longer able to enter the towns and villages, as had been his plan. Likewise, our own life’s path is rarely left entirely up to us. If even Jesus had to adapt to others not following the game plan, well, who am I?
Malcolm in the Middle was on television when I passed through the living room a few nights ago. Normally I like to watch, but I was busy. All I caught was: “there is no greater gift we can give to each other than the here and now; that’s why it’s called ‘The Present'”. I had to chuckle at the play on words, but it stuck with me. My life has become very much about the here and now; pretty much on auto pilot until that right place, or position, or project presents itself and I can sink my teeth in again.
“I can plod“, said Hudson Taylor, when asked to explain the reason for his life’s accomplishments.
I have no career at the moment; probably never did have one. But I do have a life, and I am grateful for the gift!