One of my clients made a comment about a job he had one summer in high school – he said it was “soul-sucking and dreadful.”
I love that phrasing – he is really a clever guy, but it also got me thinking. I bet most of us have had a job like that, especially during our younger years – I know I did. I was a file clerk for a mortgage company one summer; thankfully it was just a month-long assignment. While I appreciated the opportunity to earn some extra money, and I was blessed to have a friend as a co-worker, it was definitely “soul-sucking and dreadful” for me.
What makes one job dreadful for one person, and fulfilling for another? It is totally a personality and aptitude thing. I think most of the time it has little to do with the work itself, but rather with the fit between who we are as individuals and the work. For me, that month, it was dreadful because I was cut off from being able to engage with people and hear their life stories – one of the things I love to do most in the world. I had to do a task over and over with no opportunity to analyze and listen and engage in people’s lives.
I want to emphasize that being a file clerk is important work – I have seen clients light up at the thought of bringing order out of chaos, of creating systems where they can find items efficiently. I honestly envy that giftedness – my office would be so much prettier if I was so wired, and I am so thankful for the gifted individuals who do that work, and do it well. But for me, it was soul-sucking and dreadful because I wasn’t able to use my giftedness and live out who God created me to be.