The Ideal Job
What is the ideal job? As one who continues to work although she has passed the age at which the typical American retires, I have given a good deal of thought about this matter. My current position provides me with a great deal of personal satisfaction and enjoyment, more than any other I have ever had. So, what makes a job ideal for me?
Education & Strengths
For me, the ideal job is one for which I have the requisite education. It is important to me that I have the knowledge necessary to excel in the tasks that my job requires. I can still remember nightmares during my years of public school teaching in which I would be assigned to teach classes in subjects about which I knew little or nothing.
It would be accurate to describe me as a perpetual student. I love learning! My choice of subjects has been eclectic:
- Major in history, minors in music and education for my A.B. from Oberlin College
- Secondary social studies education for my M.Ed. from Wayne State University
- Curriculum development for my Ph.D. in Education from Wayne State University
- Computer programming and desktop publishing courses at Macomb Community College
- Biblical Greek and Hebrew, biblical studies, and church history courses at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary
- Classes in Microsoft Office programs, PhotoShop, PageMaker, Quicken, and HTML at New Horizons Computer Learning Centers
It is also important that my interests and preferences are consistent with the requirements and duties of a job. One often hears of individuals who have what would normally be considered “good jobs” but are deeply unhappy because their temperament and interests do not match up with the requirements of the job. To love what one does is necessary for a job to be considered ideal.
Experience & Skills
The ideal job also is one in which I can employ the expertise and skills I have developed through my previous work experience. At each position that I have held during the more than fifty years since my first job as band librarian at age sixteen, I have gained valuable experience and learned important skills. My employment history evidences a great deal of diversity:
- High school band librarian
- Hospital dietary aide
- College/university research assistant to professors of government and statistics
- Statistics tutor/consultant
- Secondary Social Studies teacher
- Computer programmer and flowchart designer
- Bible institute instructor
- Church volunteer/office assistant
- Professional technician doing billing, budgeting, and photo editing
The ideal job would allow me to use as many of my skills as possible for the glory of God.
Environment & Style
Recently I have come to realize that the work environment and style of leadership in the work setting are significant factors in determining how close to ideal a job is. As a Christian laboring in a Christian workplace, I would expect to find a microcosm of the Body of Christ, as the Apostle Paul describes it in Romans 12:3–5 and 1 Corinthians 12:12–27. Every member is valuable and contributes something necessary and vital to the functioning of the body; even those of lowest status (“more feeble”) are both necessary and worthy of honor.
Similarly, in an ideal work environment all who labor there view one another as valued and essential parts of the team. Although each one has a different role to play, with specific duties and responsibilities, each is esteemed and appreciated for the contributions he or she makes to the overall functioning of the organization. Status differences exist, but are not emphasized. No one disparages or ignores another’s role.
As Head of the Body, Christ is our model for the Christian style of leadership. Scripture portrays Him as Shepherd, Servant, and Savior. Of course, no human boss can fulfill the role of Savior; that position is Christ’s alone. A Christian leader can, however, model himself or herself after the shepherd and the servant.
A shepherd leads his flock with strength, love, and compassion. He provides for, protects, and is willing to sacrifice himself for those under his care. We can see these characteristics of the shepherd in Psalm 23:1–6, Isaiah 40:10–12, and John 10:1–15.
The servant leader ministers without selfishness or self-aggrandizement. He is cognizant of the importance of his leadership role, but approaches his duties with humility and recognizes that God has called him to his position (Philippians 2:3–8). He models humble, self-sacrificing service to those under his authority in order that they will likewise serve one another (John 13:3–17).
Endowment & Service
Ultimately, it is God who guides the Christian to the place He would have him serve. No matter what field of employment one enters, his job offers the opportunity to meet people’s needs, employ his God-given gifts and the skills he has acquired, and express (or explore) his deepest desires. For me, it is important to feel that God has placed me where He wants me and that I am able to serve Him and others through my job.
Evaluation & Summary
In light of all this, have I ever found the ideal job? I would have to say, “No, but my current job comes as close as is possible in a fallen world.”