Sunday, November 13, 2011

Talents, revisited

Back in January, I wrote a Sunday post based on the Parable of the Talents.  In that case, the parable served as the basis for my Sunday School lesson that day.  I was in a pretty different place last January.  I'd just finished the holiday gift wrapping season at Williams-Sonoma and was still feeling my way through life 'post- Girl Scouts'.  I had started to think about applying for permanent jobs, but still didn't know how much I wanted to work or even which talents I wanted to share with others.

As it happens, ten and a half months later, I find myself working for the church that got me thinking about how to use my talents in the first place.  Today, the same parable was the gospel lesson.  Today was also the day of our parish meeting and the chili-brownie cook-off that I mentioned yesterday (J's turkey chili did not win--that honor went to the vegetarian chili--but I think he may have been in the running for second place).  Needless to say, there was a lot going on. In the midst of the busy day, someone commented to me that (I'm paraphrasing here) I have a lot going on in my personal life and am not doing enough for our children at St. R.

Now, maybe I would have heard this comment differently on a different day, but today's lesson about sharing our talents led me to hear it this way:  I heard someone tell me that my job should be more important than my personal interests.  I don't know if I agree with this.  Yes, I think my job, and doing my job, is important.  In fact, I think that I have this job as a result of the soul searching I did earlier this year and my desire to find something that both paid some bills and met my desire to make a difference in the life of a child.  It's tough, because this job is supposed to only be 20 hours a week (and anyone who's worked a salaried job knows you end up working more than the hours you're paid for), and there's a lot of work to be accomplished in those hours.  I feel like I have brought about some positive changes and introduced some new activities for our youth that weren't present before.

I have two big questions I'm working through now, and I would appreciate your comments to help me work through this.  First, Is it right (of anyone, including myself), to expect me to bury some of my talents because they don't directly relate to my job, even if I'm cultivating those 'other' talents outside of my work schedule?  Second, If you're being paid for a set amount of time, and you're already exceeding that amount of time, should you be expected (again, by anyone, including myself) to give more/do more to meet someone else's expectations?

I kind of feel like the answer to both questions is 'no'.  I think that it is through cultivating all of my talents that I become a mostly-well-adjusted person. Furthermore, I think my job performance is directly related to how I'm feeling about my place in the world, and when I'm well-balanced and well-adjusted in the rest of my life, I'm in a better place at work, too.  I don't think the things I do outside of work (including things I do at church that aren't necessarily work-related) take away from who I am or what I accomplish at work.  If anything, I think they add to who I am and what I do.  Second, I'm working to find balance in my life--something else that results in a generally happier and more well-adjusted JE.  Finding balance means, to me, stopping work when I've crossed off the most immediate and pressing items off my daily to-do list.  It's unfortunate that I work in a place where the most immediate and pressing items that land on my desk aren't generally child-related.  The child (and youth) related work gets done on those rare and blessed days when the list gets crossed off before I hit the four hour mark (my minimum time to be in the office on a daily basis) or more frequently, outside the 20 hours a week I'm paid to be in the office.  It happens before or after or much after, when I really should have left hours before. 

Am I right?  Or am I missing something in my thought process?  Is there another question (or an answer to an unasked question) that I'm missing altogether? 

If I am right, how does one say this?  I feel like anyone who would suggest I'm not doing my job isn't going to respond well to an argument that counters this line of thinking.  I feel like the comment is a passive-aggressive attempt to send me on some sort of guilt trip, and I'm not inclined to accomodate that.  I am inclined to address it.  I just don't know how to do that...

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