Discovering what you like
What do you enjoy? What do you like? And what would you be willing to do for free?
These questions sound simple. And yet, for many they are not easy to answer. But this personal knowledge is necessary in order to move ahead and make good decisions. Without a more clear understanding of what you like, decision-making will seem random or endlessly complicated.
Chances are you will go somewhere and do something – for no particularly reason – or just stand still and stay stuck. And neither option is good.
Trying something for a while, and then reflecting on what you have tried, is one way to work towards a more accurate understanding and finally get to know yourself. And so, I am going to reflect on a few life experiences in order to follow this advice. So here we go.
Going to High School
What did I enjoy the most about the high school years?
Admittedly, high school was not a highlight in my life; I was glad when it was over. But it certainly wasn’t all bad either. In fact, compared to many high schools the Swift Current Comprehensive High School was a very good place to be. It was a fairly large school, about 1000 students, and I am thankful for the opportunity to try out a variety of different subjects and activities.
Through that experience, and others since, I discovered that I enjoy working with words and ideas. Everyone, of course, works with words and ideas but not necessarily in the same way.
English was my favorite class. In some ways, it was very difficult. But I enjoy the challenge of doing research and trying to write and communicate what is true. For I do not like being deceived or manipulated. If I have a core passion, it’s that I really, really, really, really, really (Should I add a few more or have you had enough?) want to know what is true.
Don’t tell me that everything is true or nothing is true or that there is no such thing as truth. Tell me what is true. Truth matters. Reality, and yes there is such a thing, counts. But nowadays, politics trumps truth. It might sound a little crass, but I seem to have arrived on the earth with a very sensitive B.S. detector built into my entire being.
Which subjects did you enjoy in high school? What ideals or noble goals grab your attention more than anything else?
Working in Restaurants
While I grew up on a farm, one of my first jobs – actually during high school – was working in a restaurant. Opa is the German world for grandpa, and this restaurant was called Opa’s.
When the meal was over I came in and cleaned things up, set the tables again, and sometimes did the dishes. A very glamorous job to be sure. Later on, in college, I worked in another restaurant as a waiter. Both restaurants had very good food and were also fairly good places to work.
But, to state the obvious, every restaurant is a social place – an exceedingly social place. There are all sorts of people coming and going. The employees are running here and there. There’s constant conversation in the background. It’s a loud and busy place. Not exactly a peaceful setting that would attract introverts from far and wide to come and reflect on the meaning of life.
This is to say, that this experience helped me realize that I enjoy working primarily alone as opposed to with a lot of people. It’s not that I like to be alone all the time and live in a hermitage. But I do enjoy working by myself. Some people are quite the opposite, and that is fine. The idea is to understand yourself.
Which working environment have you enjoyed the most so far? Where do you thrive?
Living in Community
Over the years, I have been a part of eight or ten (depending how you count) Christian churches or communities. And I have visited many others. It’s not that I was “church-hopping” all the time, but I have moved a lot and lived in a variety of countries and communities.
In my experience, no two churches are exactly alike. While there are all sorts of similarities, there’s also an incredible amount of diversity and variety.
Let’s face it: living in community is not always easy. If you do this for long enough, you will run into a certain amount of trouble and difficulty and hardship. Most of the problems surround making decisions together. But this is hardly unique to the Christian church. And despite the challenges I have experienced, there’s really no place I would rather be. I am very thankful for the Christian church and proud to be a part of the global Christian community.
Looking back, I really enjoy being able to make a meaningful contribution that is unique to who I am. In other words, I like to be involved in some way aside from being person #423 who shows up to sit in chair #322, volunteer in activity #129, and give to this or that particular fund. Stand up, sit down, walk in, walk out, and do it all again next week.
Who wants to feel like a nameless number? Who want to feel like they could leave at any moment and no one would really notice at a personal level?
Most pastors and leaders really want people to be involved, they want to build community, but it is sometimes a struggle to find a way to do that particularly with a large group of people. And for three years I was part of a congregation with over 2,000 people.
In might sound odd, but in a different congregation (a much smaller one) I really enjoyed working on the constitution. The goal was to make the whole enterprise function more effectively. And again, I really enjoyed that. Many people wouldn’t like that at all, but I did. Because I like to organize ideas.
If you are part of a church, what do you enjoy the most? What could you do in order to make the best contribution that you can?
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