When I finished my undergrad I headed into a Youth Worker position that I was looking forward to. However, I soon came to realise that it was time to quit.
The job I accepted was working a 24/7 roster with children in residential care. For those of you who don’t know what residential care is, it is a care arrangement for children who have been removed from their families by the state welfare services. These kids often have aggressive behaviours and significant emotional regulation issues.
As I said, I was keen for this work. It paid, and it was challenging enough that I wouldn’t get bored. For the first four months of my job I enjoyed it. There were a few downs with clients who were just perpetually angry (and violent).
The start of my job was easy. I was able to turn down working when I had Bible study on, and to take two weeks off for mission. During university holidays, I dealt reasonably well with long shifts where I’d sleepover at work and with some of the more violent shifts. Yet when uni rolled around, the flexibility I needed slowly ebbed away.
Eventually, I began being asked to work when I already had made myself “unavailable.” I also began working with a client that was becoming increasingly violent. I was managing a full-time course load at university and was working no less that 21 rostered hours (but upward of 50 with sleepover shifts). It wasn’t until I had three weeks away from work, that I realised it was time to go.
I’m not one to shirk responsibilities I’ve taken on, irrespective of how much I like them. So why did I choose to leave?
In my previous blog post, I mentioned that we are workers for Christ. Our life is a sacrifice for God, and we must be prepared to live a life that pleases God. Our work AND lives must glorify Him.
Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him ~ Colossians 3:17
This means acknowledging God’s sovereignty in our jobs. We have jobs to live, and are not to live for our jobs. Jobs support us for worldly responsibilities like paying rent and feeding ourselves, but are not our purpose in life. God is.
Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. ~ 2 Chronicles 20:6
If God is sovereign, it also means that what we do not only at work but our spare time matters to Him.
The major issue of my job was that it was pushing me towards living for work. I was being encouraged to use my time outside of work for more work, and the emotional toil of working with troubled children alongside uni was pushing my spare time further away from God.
I became less inclined to meet regularly for bible reading. I struggled to maintain relationships, not just with my Christian friends but also other (just as important) non-Christian friends. I was tired and didn’t feel like reading my Bible and felt constantly pressed for time.
Meeting regularly, loving our brothers and sisters, loving our friends and growing in God’s word are all important. It wasn’t until I stopped to breathe, that I realised I was overwhelmed by my work. My job consumed my life, and left little space for God.
What did I do?
Well, I checked my contract and gave my minimum notice for resignation. I left without a job lined up, but knowing that it was a good choice.
…there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. ~ 1 Corinthians 8:6