Thirty-five years of accumulating creative skills, networking, building a business, and perfecting an area of expertise helped when I was hired as a non-traditionalist to develop a niche. But working for myself hadn't prepped me very well for institutional conformity.
A traditional workplace that emphasizes correct channels is a great teacher. Participants learn compliance to bring the best effects with the least effort. Some employees see work as holistic, while others show up for work and happily punch out without giving the job another thought until the next day. Some are naturally gifted with smooth speech, and some are blunter. Some instinctively understand administrative expectations while others spill over and create messes. A bureaucracy has a long memory that notes and charts stepping outside the lines.
Inside the box, we gain job skills and negotiate with internal allies. We watch how power and powerlessness shapes character. We learn job consistancy and careful attention to rules and regulations. We learn to keep our own counsel while nurturing non-institutional mentors for balance and insight. Separating job performance from self worth is crucial for survival.
God knows how past and present lessons will inform us and shape our resume. Politics and hierarchies can be good preparation for the future. While trying to twist ourselves into a functional mold, we are wise to stop occasionally to ask what we really want from life. To examine how the past has shaped us. And how the present will help us love and serve God in days to come.
*But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, "You are my God." My times are in your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me. Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love. Psalm 31:14-16 NIV
*A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich. He who gathers in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who brings shame. Proverbs 10:4-5 NLT
*Those who use the things of the world should not become attached to them. For this world as we know it will soon pass away. I want you to be free from the concerns of this life.” 1 Corinthians 7:31 NLT