Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Ministry of Work

This week at work has been the kind of week where I do all sorts of work that I'm not sure I was hired to do:  fix the Keurig machine, make a bulletin board that celebrates African American History week, a trip to Wal-Mart to buy a variety of supplies, and bringing in books for the library's display that celebrates African American History.  Don't get me wrong--I'm not complaining.  But most weeks, I do wonder what would have happened if my school had hired a "Not my job description, below my pay grade" kind of person.  It might have taken awhile to manifest, but the results wouldn't have been good.

Luckily, I like feeling useful.  I like knowing that my actions both large and small make the campus a better place.  I'm the one who refills the sugar containers and who makes sure we have the sugar to do it.  It's a small thing, and people don't often notice when I do it.  But if no one did it, we'd notice.  The campus would be a slightly less welcoming place.  Too much of that, and people start to look for a more welcoming place.

Some of our ideas fall flat--for instance, we were planning to have a chili cookoff a week from today, but so far, no one has signed up to compete.  We'll send out an e-mail on Monday, and if there's no interest, we'll move along to another project.  I've bought lots of heart shaped cookie decorating kits for Feb. 14, so lack of interest in a chili cookoff won't break my heart; in fact, I was only doing it because a few people suggested it.

I'm taking a page from the way my church approaches these kinds of projects.  I see myself in a pastor/leadership role.  There are important tasks to be done, and I do them.  There are ideas that feed my creative soul, and I do them.  If others have a vision that fits with the larger mission of the school, great, if they want to lead that project.  If no one wants to lead a project, we don't do it.

I'm lucky in a way that many church pastors aren't:  my campus has only been in existence for about 6 years, so I don't have to wrestle with the "That's the way we've always done it" response.  People are happy for our efforts to make the campus a cohesive community.

As I think about why I'm happy to do a variety of efforts in the hopes of building community, I'm realizing that because people are happy and appreciative, it makes me more willing to do the tasks.  I've worked at places where people sneer and say, "Why bother?"  It's dispiriting.

I'm happy to be at my current campus.  It's not exactly the liberal arts college where I thought I'd work back in my grad school days when I pictured my life.  It's not the ministry I might have chosen, had I gone to seminary.  But it has elements of those ideals, and so, it works for me right now.

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