A number of guest posters this month will be weighing in on “What I learned From My First Job.” Today we’re privileged to have Troy Sims give his insight. Troy has a M.Div from Brite Divinity School in Ft. Worth TX and blogs at Loving God With All Your Mind. He and I first met at Laity Lodge and sat on the River Frio devouring bowls of ice cream with fresh berries. I appreciated his sense of humor and insight into the world around him. Want to add your adventure? E-mail me!
Sorry, I Have to Work
by Troy Sims
One of the many things that make me grateful for my parent’s parenting was this. If I wanted a car in high school, I was going to have to get a job and make money. I’d have to pay for it as well as gas, maintenance, and insurance for the vehicle. My mom didn’t get her driver’s license until after me, so it’s not like I could get her to run me everywhere – or anywhere. I didn’t want to rely on the school bus or friends. I wanted my own transportation.
So, how was I going to make money? I occasionally did babysitting, but I didn’t really like it. Plus, I never made much money from it. I wanted to maintain good grades in school, so I didn’t want to work retail, having a changing work schedule – often working late at night. What could I do?
Luckily, toward the end of my 8th grade year, my dad took a job at a local electrical parts distributor who was wanting to start a new division selling, building, and sometimes designing electrical control panels to operate machinery for various manufacturing plants. Trying to keep costs low, the company decided to hire me – a fourteen year old with no experience and just an inkling of wanting to be an electrical engineer someday. I began the week after school let out making a whopping $3.35 per hour!
The job was perfect. I worked 8-5, Monday-Friday (and only an occasional Saturday). That first summer, we could have as many sodas as we wanted for free. Sometimes, there really wasn’t enough work for me, so they might have me mow the lawn or dust. Occasionally, I got a day off, too. Plus, it was cool to tell my friends that I worked a place assembling and wiring electrical control panels, because it sounded more important than it really was! Yet, I was still able to make about $700 that first summer, and after school started again, they’d often have me come by to work after school until they closed at 5 or on an occasional Saturday.
I learned a few things from this job where I worked until I was a senior in high school. Having a “good” source of income helped me to begin to learn to budget and make financial priorities. Whereas I could relatively easily avoid people at school who had ticked me off, I had to learn to keep working with people who made me mad (and I’m sure vice versa). I also discovered that even though employers wanted me to be dependable and loyal, this was often not reciprocal as there were times I could not count on them for hours I needed or for raises I felt I deserved. These insights continue to ring true today.
Here’s something else I learned back then.
My parents had another rule that I appreciated back then and continue to appreciate. Once I got my driver’s license, they left it up to me whether I went to church or not. I’m glad that they allowed that to be my choice. In hindsight, it eventually (after a few years) helped me appreciate church more, but for the first few years, I usually chose not to go. One of my excuses was, “I’m tired. You know I had to go to school and work this week. I need to catch up on my sleep. I’ve gotta keep my grades up.” It wasn’t just church that I used this excuse for, though.
“I can’t go to this family gathering. I have to work.”
“Sorry, friend. I can’t hang out with you. I have to work.”
Sometimes, it was just an excuse to do my own thing. Sometimes I let the job take priority.
I apparently learned this well as I have continued to do it. Work often becomes my “idol” that keeps me focused away from very important aspects of my life. Often it has been the love of money (or the worry of what I’d eat, drink, or wear – see Matthew 6:24-25). Then, once I went into ministry after five years as an electrical engineer, the job became too big of a priority, because I thought, “I’m doing this for God!” Right. Often, I was doing it for my over sized ego, since it didn’t all depend on me. I had not been following the guidance of the Apostle Paul who wrote in Romans 12:3 to not think to highly of oneself. And now that I’m a stay-at-home dad, many times I let the cleaning, washing, cooking, and other household tasks take priority over teaching our son.
The more things change, the more they stay the same, right? And yet, Romans 12:2 says we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. We are called to change when needed. I need to change in this aspect, because at least one thing I learned in my first job needs to be unlearned.
I have two questions:
• What did you learn from your first job?
* What do you need to unlearn from your first job?
So how about you? For the next couple of weeks I’ll be highlighting voices from around the world, reflecting on what you learned at your first job. Send me a note here and join in! Click here to subscribe and not miss a single post. The Archive is here.