The self-employed young father checked his bank account one more time.
Still no different than it had been for the last two months. Not enough. Not enough for the bills which were beginning to pile up in the basket on his desk–Not enough for the plans he had for his struggling business–Not even enough for new school clothes for the kids. It was time for Plan B.
Plan B? There was no Plan B.
He took another job. Weekends. He worked as a security guard at the local manufacturing plant. Don’t be fooled by the title. He was a greeter. Yep. Like the folks who used to meet you at the front door of your local discount store.
“Hey. How are you today? Have a great shift!”
After the three hundred fiftieth time in an hour, he was over it. He asked his supervisor if there was something else he could do to make the twenty hours he was to work each weekend pass more quickly.
“Sure,” the answer came immediately. “You see that stack of work orders over there? You can transcribe them to computer files.”
That job was dispensed with quickly and the young man was back for more. Anything was better than waiting for the shift change and waving at people who walked by. His next request netted him the additional task of rendering the materials inventory list from the old paper forms to the computer system. When he was done with that, he had some suggestions for the IT guy about improving the program the company was using for these vital data lists.
The next weekend, he blew through the two tasks so quickly that he added the task of transcribing personnel progress reports to the burgeoning schedule of chores to be completed each weekend. He was never bored.
Then he noticed something. Notes were being left for him.
“Could you do…?”
“It would be nice if you would find the time to…”
“We really need to have this done by Monday.”
After a couple of months of increasing responsibilities which were completed each week, he opened his paycheck envelope one afternoon and it hit him. His paycheck was still written for exactly the same amount it had been the first week. He remembered his job the first day.
“Hey. How are you today? Have a great shift!”
It paid the same amount.
The next week, the stacks of paper reports remained piled against the wall. The young man had brought a couple of novels with him, along with a CD player and ten hours worth of music. The keyboard to the computer sat idle, as he did the same. He wondered if they would notice. They did.
“Were you not feeling well last weekend? The work is really piling up.” His supervisor seemed genuinely concerned.
“No. I felt fine. I just realized that my job doesn’t require me to do those things. I’ll do them again if I decide to. I’ll probably just sit here at my desk today, like you told me to when I first started.”
The storm wasn’t long in erupting. “You’ll do no such thing! I’d better see some progress on those reports when I come back in on Monday! Sit at your desk! Ha! We’re not paying you to goof off here!”
He did the reports. At least he wasn’t bored.
I thought today about a little book which was popular around the turn of this century. It was written about a prayer in the Bible by a man named Jabez. The man prayed that his territory would be enlarged. God granted his request and gave him more. The author of the book had some thoughts on how the prayer could be effective for us today.
By the millions, people bought the little book. By the millions, they also bought into the idea that by praying this same prayer each day they could have more. More money, more possessions, more power–you name it, they wanted it and demanded it.
I am wondering if the prayer was answered for many of them. I wonder if they also learned what the young man did as he attempted to avoid boredom.
With additional blessings come added expectations of the one being blessed.
The Bible says it this way: “To whom much is given, much is required.”
Some days, I think that I may have asked for too much myself. I almost wish that my territory wasn’t so large. Just last week, I actually heard myself say the words out loud:
“Stop the merry-go-round. I want off!”
How about it? Any possibility that anyone else out there is feeling the same way?
Perhaps, as the red-headed lady who raised me used to say, you too have found that your eyes were bigger than your stomach. She would say that when I put too large a quantity of a favorite food on my plate, thinking that I wanted all of it, only to find that there was no capacity for that amount in the place it needed to go. The rule at our table was that you had to eat everything you put on your plate. There were times when I hated that rule.
In recent days I’m working at putting a smaller portion on my plate–both at the dinner table and in the taking on of new responsibilities. I want to do everything I can, but I also have to know my limits.
I’m still exploring the stretching capacity in some areas, but drawing in the fence rows in others. You see, the grass isn’t all that much greener on the other side of that fence, after all.
No praying the prayer of Jabez blindly again and again for me. I think I like the words of the Apostle in the New Testament a little better.
I’m learning wherever I am that I can be content.
What’s that? More mashed potatoes?
No thanks. I’ve had enough.
“He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.”
(Socrates ~ Greek philosopher ~ 469 BC-399 BC)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2013. All Rights Reserved.
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