A couple of weeks ago I neglected to observe an anniversary as I completed two years of full-time employment at Echo Church. I took no salary the first few months we started the church and transitioned to a somewhat pro-rated salary our first full year. So I'm now in year three of employment here, somewhat giddy, because by the end of the year I will have surpassed my longest tenure of employment at any one place since leaving college. Ironically, while I recycle jobs every couple of years, Kelly has stayed at the same place for almost ten years now. The good news is I have no plans of leaving Echo ever. I have found my dream job. Honestly, despite the financial uncertainties associated with starting a new church, I have never been happier anywhere else. I sometimes feel that I should be apologetic about this, as not everyone is as fortunate to have a job they love. But reading this article today makes me feel a little better bragging about my contentment.
Why would I feel guilty about this? I could attribute part of it to growing up the child of workaholics. My parents operated as such, not to amass great wealth, but because it was a value intrinsic to their upbringings; they were taught that hard work was a godly trait. As a result, however, I've always struggled with feelings of guilt about how hard I work. It's tough to compare the stress and exhaustion I feel while working to that of my father and brother who spend the majority of their time in physical labor exposed to the elements. While my mind is fried while contemplating logistics issues, their skin is fried from sunburn. While I'm numb pondering an unsolvable ministry situation, their extremities are literally numb with frostbite. Sure, I work hard, but it's a different kind of work.
The transition to starting a church has made this even more difficult. For the first time in my life, I really don't have a boss [well, um, except God?] and I have to be self-motivated. Working at home would seem to make this even more difficult, and the addition of both a work-at-home wife and precious daughter should make it impossible. But, as a truly evaluate the situation, I think it has worked out extremely well.
That said, I don't work 9am to 5pm. I don't have a separate office area in the house where I get work done [thank God for laptop computers]. I don't detail my to-do list to make sure I'm on track. These are all things you're supposed to do when you work out of the home, and I basically neglect them.
But I thrive in an opportunity where I can be free to be creative in my own time. Sometimes that means waking up at 5am to go to a coffee shop to get some work done. Sometimes it's 2am and I can't get that week's Scripture text out of my mind. While I rarely ever "take a day off," I make sure to work hard when I need to and unwind so as not to go crazy. Kelly and I have said it before but, honestly, Echo is our second child. I'm totally committed to our church and what God is going to do in this city and it doesn't package nicely into a job description.
In case you doubt, believe it: I love my job.
By the by, I don't fight that workaholic guilt as much anymore. I've come to grips with it. There's always going to be someone who wants to lament that you have a cake job and make you feel bad about yourself. I don't give a rip. It's my life and I'm doing the best I can with what I have. And my family has been more supportive than I could ever have imagined. From their workaholic perspective, I'm doing alright.
And that's alright with me.
*Seth Godin expresses some thoughts on workaholism on his blog. It's good stuff.