Those Early Jobs

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I will always be thankful for having a variety of work experiences in my past.  (Hmm.  I’m thankful now.  I can’t honestly say that I was thankful during the time I had these various jobs.)

 
I learned much through all of those experiences.  Much more than I realized at the time.  Years later, I often see how God has used those work experiences in a variety of ways.  These are the jobs I had in earlier years:

 
1.  A paper route for The Dallas Morning News.  My route consisted of four long streets in Dallas.  That meant getting out of bed by 4:00 AM and on my bike within a few minutes.  On Sundays, the papers were so large that my mom drove me, folding these papers while I threw them from house to house (the newspapers had to be on the porch in those days).  In the early morning hours, I began to notice much about these houses.  Different smells.  Who had a dog.  Whose lawn was manicured and who didn’t really have a lawn.

 
2. I worked for several years at a fast food restaurant.  It was a Jack-in-the-Box.  Drive through only.  However, it was on a major street in Dallas.  I worked nights and often throughout the night.  This was my first job in which I dealt with people — lots of them.  This was often dirty work.  I remember coming home at nights reeking of grease from the deep fryers. 

 
3. After I graduated from high school, I worked at Manor Bakery one summer.  This was the hardest job I ever had.  (This was a huge bakery.  Bread, rolls, buns that would be distributed to grocery stores and restaurants throughout north Texas.)  My job was working next to a huge bun oven.   A larger conveyor belt would take hundreds of buns through this oven at one time.  The buns would come out of the oven and huge suction cups would lift them out the pans and drop them onto another belt.  I would then grab the pans that had just come out of the oven.  It was a hot job in the Texas summer.  I have memories of lots of burns that summer.

 
4.  I worked for a couple of years for Hunt Oil Company in downtown Dallas.  Worked on the 27th floor of the First National Bank Building.  I worked in the file room shuffling files to this or that office.  Taking files to another floor.  Occasionally I would be sent to find a file in the archives, which was four or five blocks away.  Nice.  I would get there after morning classes and work the rest of the afternoon.   I worked with a middle-aged, single parent who lived in Oak Cliff.  She had no car and was totally dependent on the bus to get her wherever she wanted to go.   She had two dresses.  A blue and a red one, which she wore to work on alternate days. 

 
5.  For several years, I worked for United Parcel Service.  Loading trucks.  Unloading trucks.  Driving and delivering.   This was a good job.  I began working there my last two years of college.  I worked  nights again.  I have a lot of memories of conversations with the managers.  These were often people from other places who had been sent to work in Dallas from places like New Jersey, Salt Lake City, and Denver.  I begin to notice that some of these people had now been through divorces and affairs.  For some, work seemed to be the center of their world.  It wasn’t that they loved their jobs.  Rather, it seemed to be the absence of any other center.

 
No doubt you have had your own experiences.  You’ve had jobs maybe similar or quite different from these.  For me, these were valuable.  Now at the time, it didn’t seem that way.   Looking back, however, I can see how God has used some of these experiences in my life to help me connect with a variety of people.   Yet, in some ways it doesn’t really matter whether or not I see how these experiences have been useful.  (Their value is not based on my comprehension of their value.)  What matters is that I trust that God works through my history and through my present situation.

 
What about you?  Is there any particular job you’ve had in the past for which you are especially thankful now? 

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  • http://djdweblog.wordpress.com/ DJD

    I once worked as an Administrative Assistant for a Unitarian-Universalist (a.k.a., "UU") church. During that time I was a self-proclaimed UU but not technically a member of any UU church. I only had the job for 4 months. But working there showed me I really didn’t belong in that kind of community. I left without giving a two weeks notice, which may seem unprofessional in hindsight. But I really had to get out of there. I think God used that job as a way to get my attention, to let me know I was on the wrong track. (Nothing against Unitarians, they’re good people. But the religion just wasn’t meant for me.) Though I sometimes regret taking that job, I’m thankful for what God was telling me through it.

  • http://seedlingsinstone.blogspot.com L.L. Barkat

    Every last one. And I never thought I’d say that. But they helped make me the writer I am, and they taught me the humility and business sense I need to survive as the writer I am.

  • http://emmsy.wordpress.com emma

    “It wasn’t that they loved their jobs. Rather, it seemed to be the absence of any other center.”

    That’s an amazing thought… we really are called to bring out the God-colours, the God-flavours in the world… to be salt that makes people thirst for something… Jesus.

    I’ve had a few jobs so far. In one cafe I worked in for a few months, I learnt what it meant to live out ‘do everything as if it was for God’. In the last job I had (waitressing in a restaurant), I made some fantastic friends with my workmates, and learnt how to deal with people. All good/beneficial experiences.

  • http://benoverby.wordpress.com/ ben overby

    At the time I hated my 3 years in the army.  But, its a chapter in my story that I needed.  I probably would have died young if I hadn’t went into the military and learned some discipline.  Though the life of a paratrooper had its own hazards, I learned what it took to get along with people from every conceivable background.  It was uncomfortable and I wasn’t good at the "army stuff," but I’ve been able to pull from that experience lessons I never learned in the schools I attended. 

  • http://iaindonnastuart.spaces.live.com Iain L. Stuart

    The job I hated the most taught me the most in terms of culinary skills, but more, it also taught me what NOT to do when I was in the position of authority. 
    God has used every experience for good…some I recognize, some I will someday.  And some days I think that I should be a much better example of Christ than I am.  My prayer is that through all of the experiences He gives me, that I would come to reflect Him more.
    Iain

  • Jim Martin

    DJDThanks!  It is amazing the different ways God will use to get our attention.  That seems to be the challege–to pay attention to what is doing and to what God desires in our lives.   

  • Jim Martin

    L.L.I smiled when I read the words in your comment, "I never thought I would say that…"  I relate to that.  It seems to take some time (at least for some of us) to realize just how valuable so many of thoses tasks/jobs were. 

  • Jim Martin

    Thank you Emma!  You have had some very rich experiences.

  • Jim Martin

    Ben–It is interesting to hear all of the things you learned in a three-year experience that you hated at the time.Reminds me that the most valuable moments may not be in situations that I "like."

  • Jim Martin

    Iain,Thank you for your comment.  I too share your prayer for my own life.Thanks! 

  • Becky

    I didn’t even know you had some of those jobs.  Guess I was in my own little world.  One of my early influences was the summer when I was 15, I think, and Jan and I did volunteer work for Angels Incorporated, a day care for children with mental retardation.  That influenced my college major and first jobs. 

  • http://www.communityofjesus.blogspot.com/ Ted Gossard

    Jim, I can see God’s hand in all my jobs in the past. At least in helping me identify with certain kinds of people. As well as God working on me over time.