In this technological age, one of the means of entertaining ourselves is typing random sentences into search engines and seeing what comes up. So the Norwegian Artist, in a inexplicable fit of, well, even he can’t explain why he did this, typed,
Take the Norwegian’s advice and don’t bother. Forbes Magazine, which very few of us consult to meet the deeper emotional and spiritual aspects of our lives, posted a list of 25 Meaningful Jobs That Pay Well, the first five of which were in the medical field, and — surprise surprise! — these positions paid REALLY well.
When your mom told you to become a Neurosurgeon or Cardiothoracic Surgeon, she was reading Forbes.
What Do These People Do, Anyway?
Of course, if you don’t want to go into the medical field, you can be number 6, a Supervisory Special Agent. One hundred percent of the people in this field surveyed said that the work was meaningful, and considering that the median pay is $129,000 to do . . . what? their satisfaction is understandable.
Oh, and number 7 — a Chief Executive Officer, median pay $155,500, satisfaction rate 82 percent. For some reason, I’ve never associated the word “meaningful” with the term CEO.
The Huffington Post, another entity I never consult for, well, meaningful content, listed the 10 Least Meaningful Jobs: Payscale, beginning the article with,
“Want to make the world a better place? You may want to consider changing jobs.”
It made me wonder — if a gas station attendant (the Post’s Number One Least Meaningful Job) paid what a Supervisory Special Agent position did, would it all of a sudden be meaningful?
Does Money Make Meaning?
In other words, what makes a job meaningful — how much money it generates, or how much it helps people?
Most people work because we have to — there’s food, shelter, clothing, taxes, fees, insurance payments, utilities — although the latter four are generally paid before we can address the first three, and YES, we would like to be recompensed well for what we do.
But it’s important to recognize two things about our jobs:
1) How much we’re paid is not a reflection upon how meaningful the job is. Think about your average homemaker — based upon her payscale, she’s useless, which, come to think of it, is how contemporary society views her.
2) Any honest work, done well, is meaningful. Our grandparents, who lived through the Great Depression, knew this — that’s why they kept repeating to their grandkids, “Don’t knock it. It’s a job, kid, and it keeps you off the streets.”
A Surfeit of Neurosurgeons
There are only so many neurosurgeons a society can absorb, and while it’s impressive to say that you’re the Director of Compensation and Benefits (median pay, $122,000, satisfaction rate 64 percent), you’re far more likely to be the person arguing with this guy about your compensation and benefits package. In other words, many people are worker bees.
Jesus was a carpenter. Peter and John were fisherman. Matthew was a tax collector, which as far as pay and benefits go, would make Forbes’ List of the first century and be described as meaningful.
But what makes your job — and your entire life, actually — meaningful is not how much you’re paid, or even what you do. It’s that you’re there, and as a child of God, you walk with Christ as your guide and you do the work — whatever work — that is set before you each day. If you don’t like what you do — and there are a lot of really unlikable jobs out there — talk to Him about it, but don’t put yourself down as useless to humanity because you’re not a neurosurgeon.
Your Job Is, and You Are, Meaningful
You may bag groceries, run a coffee shop, drive a bus, drill teeth, drill oil wells, design clothes, paint artwork, teach children, wait tables, deliver mail, trade stocks — whatever it is, and whatever its level of prestige (or perceived lack of prestige), the meaningfulness of what you do depends upon how you do it: honestly, fairly, honorably, and taking advantage of every opportunity you have to “love your neighbor as yourself.”
Smile at a co-worker. Speak gently to a confused victim of dementia. Bite back a snippy retort at someone who is rude to you (service workers do this all the time; the CEOs who run their companies don’t have to). Work for Christ as your employer in whatever capacity you are in right now, and don’t put yourself down because what you do isn’t “meaningful.”
As a Child of God, every breath you take is meaningful.