Today, 6/1/16, is one year since I started my current full time job. Happy work anniversary to me, said no one, and I really don’t care. Some might call me frustrated, some might say I lack faith, and others might think I have mental problems. All might be correct. Regardless of the reason for my thoughts and attitudes this one year milestone in my current full time employment has brought to mind the fact that probably my least favorite question in the history of questions is, “What do you do?” Why is that so annoying you ask? Well – that’s what I want to explain.
When I hear the question, “What do you do?”, I want to know why they are asking, because the why determines the what I want to share. I do lots of things. Are they talking about fun stuff or work stuff? I can do lots of different fun things as well as lots of different work things, and sometimes they’re both, but if we’re all honest fun and work are usually totally separate things. I’ll talk about either one, but wouldn’t anyone rather talk about the fun stuff than the work stuff if given the choice? The sad thing, in my opinion, is that no one ever asks, “What do you do?”, to hear about the fun stuff. They want to know the work stuff.
So my mind skips past fun and on to work, but I’m still not sure why they’re asking. Are they someone who values or respects people with certain ‘status’, jobs, positions, or titles in a way that shows preferential treatment? I do not want to play any form of that game. Are they genuinely interested in learning more about me and the type of work I do? That seems ok, but it’s so surface level.
In the spirit of being cordial I almost always get past all my inhibitions and simply play along. “I’m in sales”, I say, followed by, “in the visual communications industry. Basically I help retail companies and brands with their point of purchase signage, displays, and merchandising solutions.” It’s what I’ve done for the past 12 years, full time at least. If the person asking seems genuinely interested I might add that I’ve been involved in a lot of business and ministry endeavors over the years ‘on the side’ or ‘as a volunteer’. There might be some mention of my passion for helping people with financial management. I might even explain my belief in the multi-vocational approach to life.
How deep that conversation goes depends on how much I believe the person really wants to know, understand, maybe even accept about me. Becuase I don’t want people to identify me as ‘what I do’ as much as I want them to know who I really am. I hope to reflect the God that gives me purpose, the principles that guide my values, and the passions that drive my focus.
We can talk about one year at the current employer or 11 years at the previous or the three year employer before that doing something completely different, or the two or four or five years here and there doing one side thing or another. But who I am and who I’m becoming is far more interesting than what I’m doing at any moment or in any season of life. The same is true for you. So I hope you have opportunities to get real with people in your life and share the ‘who you are’ and ‘who you’re becoming’, because life is too short to only have ‘what do you do’ relationships.
So on this day that marks a milestone it’s not that I just don’t care about what I’m doing. I just care more about becoming who God wants me to be so that no matter what I do I serve Him better every day.