Musing on use(fulness)

No offense meant to anyone, but some occupations/jobs seem inherently unhelpful to humanity.

I myself was once paid to do a rather unappealing job that I wish I’d never done.  Despite being pretty good at doing what the company wanted, I don’t consider this job to have been very useful in the grand scheme:  its core activity was checking up on customers, trying to get them to do more promptly what most of them were going to do in a couple of weeks, anyway.

Many other jobs e9to5xist for no other reason than to check up on other people’s work—a human need, I suppose, but I often find this kind of “management” or “quality control” as extraneous as it is personally annoying . . . not to mention wasteful.

One of the most useful jobs I held, just ahead of newspaper delivery boy and college switchboard operator, was “Customer Service Rep” at ShopRite of Newark, DE.  To share my assessment of usefulness, you might start with the assumptions that a) food is necessary, and b) ShopRite was about as good a grocery store as there was, comparing favorably with Pathmark and Acme.  (Yes, there actually is a grocery chain called “Acme,” Bugs Bunny notwithstanding.)

Anyway, ShopRite had a couple handfuls of us high school guys who worked in the part-time CSR role, which was colloquially known as “cart boy.”  Regularly, we retrieved bunches of carts from the parking lot, long before those snifty little battery-powered engines that the guys at Walmart use these days.  76 carts was the record, held by one Bill K.  I myself once muscled 50-some carts up the incline to their resting place — before fat began to replace muscle as my predominant physique substance, that is.  In reality, we did a lot more things than push carts.  We cleaned up spills, we stacked shoprite_olddamaged goods, we helped at the receiving dock, we hung huge ads in the windows, and we bagged (that’s “sacked” in southern) groceries.  Oh, did we bag.  We had contests.  Nancy P., then a student at the U of DE, was the fastest cashier (punching every number, not scanning, mind you, and memory says she was faster than the scanning cashiers are today!).  We guys would jockey to bag for her so we could challenge our bagging skills.  Oh, yeah, and Nancy wasn’t ugly, either, so that could have been a reason we high school guys wanted to bag for her.

For the last 17 years or so, I’ve had the pleasure of being a student in, or employed in, one of the most pleasant, fulfilling vocations I can imagine:  music, leading musical ensembles, and teaching.  The effect of this occupation (and training and experience) has frequently led to difficulties in my soul viz. “church,” though.

I wonder sometimes about the various occupations held by Christians, and how those work-a-day activities come into play when the Christians gather.  Certain jobs would seem to oppose general Christian practice, while others may merely distract, and still others naturally mesh with Christian ideals.  Some occupations may involve skills and talents that can be put to use in the Christian sub-community:

  • A CPA will often be tapped to help with church finances (which I often wish didn’t exist, but anyway . . .).
  • A construction worker will be able to offer counsel when some maintenance is needed on the facilities (which I often wish didn’t exist, but anyway . . .).
  • A teacher might be asked about the local schools when someone moves into the area.
  • A medical doctor can help someone going through a health crisis.
  • A good cook (in the home or otherwise) gets prevailed upon so many times s/he might get really sick of the kitchen.

Those are all useful and used.  But what about others? . . .

A project manager?  Does he go inwardly crazy while sitting back and watching a church’s mismanaged project or an unaddressed need?  What is he to do?

A musician?  Does she squirm at every gathering when musical elements are ineptly executed by novices?  What is she to do?

And a Bible scholar (on any level)?  Does he get passed over because the masses don’t want what he has to offer?  What is he to do?

It’s not that we must have expertise in this area or that, but when expertise is right there in your midst, shouldn’t you use it?  You wouldn’t intentionally get a careless or inexperienced roofer to put on a roof, so why treat the teaching of the scriptures or musical leadership any differently?


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