This month’s blog series seeks to address the struggle so many of us feel in connecting our workplace lives to our walk with Christ. Pacific Crossroads Church has partnered with PCC members Steve and Margaret Lindsey to start an exciting new project called the Center for Faith + Work Los Angeles to minister to this need. The center will launch this month and the 1st Annual Conference is Saturday April 1st. You can find out more and register for the event by clicking www.faithandworkLA.com.
No one is paying me to write this blog.
This being a guest weekly blog for a church, that shouldn’t surprise you. But what may surprise you is I do get paid to ghostwrite about 100 blogs a month, which more than meets my daily bread needs. It surprises me at least, as, two years ago, I didn’t even know this was something one could get paid for. And it’s not what I expect to be doing two years from now. It’s my classic LA “day job” as I work on my own artistic projects, and I thank God daily for providing me with plentiful freelance work that uses my talents, pays my bills, rarely if ever stresses me out, and gives me the time to pursue the creative projects that I believe God has led me to pursue, knowing that whether I ultimately make bank on those projects is an outcome I cannot control.
Sounds kind of serene when I put it that way, doesn’t it? It certainly does to me, but of course I do not always choose to put it that way. I’m about to hit the big 4-0 and haven’t had a full-time job since I left a 250k/year position with full benefits and stratospheric mobility almost six years ago to pursue a creative life of unrelenting uncertainty, no job title, and very high co-pays every time I need to roll into Kaiser. And, if I haven’t hit my 10,000 hours of doing creative work for “free” yet, I’m awfully close. Which, depending on your perspective, is noble or kind of stupid from the outside. From the inside, it’s often head-against-the-wall infuriating. When I see someone’s brand new condo or house or family vacation across the world, I wonder if those monuments of the good life will ever be within my reach and if maybe, just maybe, this six-year, headlong campaign in the war of art has been little more than a kamikaze mission in a losing battle on behalf of the unsympathetic cause of boy-who-wouldn’t-grow-up artistic vanity.
But then I remember what it was like when I was about to hit the not-as-big 3-0 this time ten years ago. I was six months into a career that I had spent years in school for and knew at my deepest core was wrong for me from day one. To put it bluntly, I was miserable doing it, and while the money was great, the job was all-consuming in the worst way.
So why did I do it? Because I didn’t know who I was back then – and I certainly didn’t give a second thought to God, much less his will and how my work might fit into it – and so “work” (with no preceding “Faith &…”) all came down to making the most money I could. Which meant no following the creative trail of breadcrumbs God has always set before me, and certainly no pro bono church blogs. To quote Lucinda Williams’ “I Lost It,” the prevailing attitude in my life back then was, “Everything’s paid for. Nothing’s free.” And the prevailing result of that approach was perpetual failure in beseeching the counterfeit gods of all-that-money-can-buy to grant me the fulfillment I so desperately sought.
How I got from there to here is too long of a story to tell here, but the most important shift was in my attitude. I’ve gone from “nothing’s free” to “I don’t want nothing if I have to fake it.” That’s a change that’s occurred in my life through learning to let go of what I thought was a need for certainty, earthly riches, and the adulation of others (all colossal works-in-progress, friends) by letting the Holy Spirit in to put the spotlight on God, not me.
That too is a topic worthy of volumes, but a line that pretty much encapsulates it for me is one I recently read in Experiencing God by Richard and Henry Blackaby, which implores the reader to stop asking, “What is God’s will for my life?” and to start asking simply, “What is God’s will?”
When I get anxious that all my “free” work won’t lead to my preferred outcomes, I have to make that mental shift away from “my career” and back to what I can do to accomplish “God’s will. Period.” It’s an hour-to-hour practice for me. Ideally, over time it will move steadily towards a moment-to-moment practice. I don’t know the future, but I hope that this will be a lifelong pursuit of true riches.