March 23, 2010

Job application for Faithful servant


What started off as a fun idea for a blog post downshifted into a somewhat depressing and revealing exercise for me: There is so much more I could be doing if I were truly yearning and striving to be a faithful servant.

Maybe I'm merely worried about being a "good enough" Quaker and not putting enough attention or energy into being a true servant of the Spirit. Or maybe my few moments of deep faithfulness, humble obedience, and feeling well used are enough to sustain me in my life as a Friend.


To engage in activities where I feel well used and that help me feel good about my relationship with God and about myself as the result of faithful service.

Dutiful participation in the Jewish faith.
  • Hebrew classes at synagogue; Bat-Mitzvahed in 1975.
  •  Voluntarily attended High Holy Day services during college.
  •  Visited ill grandparents, even the miserable ones.
  •  Called my mother each week while I was in college and after I had moved out of the house.
  •  Looked for the afikomen during large Passover seders, despite the likelihood I wouldn't find it.
Crisis of faith.
1982, 1997
  •  Blamed God after significant friendships fell apart.
  •  Bargained with God, despite pain and anguish. Remained a believer.
  •  Made peace with God.
Active participation in a number of Quaker communities.
  •  Committee service.
  •  Some travel among Quakers in Canada and the U.S. to learn how other Quakers "do" Quakerism. Observed how some Quaker meetings keep Divine Principle at its center, while others allow for fair amount of secularism.
  •  Pastoral care and spiritual challenges brought to me through care-and-accountability committee.
  •  Extended myself to support a friend who was headed for homelessness; helped him maintain sense of dignity as well as practical help until his situation stabilized.

  •  My "John Woolman moment": As a pre-schooler, courageously told my mother I had used magic marker to draw on kitchen floor. Felt awful for an eternity and now always place additional paper under tip of marker when using a Sharpie.
  •  Convincement: As a college student, after questioning a series of coincidences that had occurred, involving a depressing morning and an unexpected visit by a friend, and came to believe that God had led me to that point for a reason.
  •  Obedience: Without a job lined up and no practical rationale, moved halfway across the country immediately after college, because God told me to.
  •  Deepening the well: Speak with those new to Quakerism about basic traditions and practices.  Remind current Friends of value of practices that appear to be falling away.  Offer to lead Adult Education sessions.  Communicate with Quakers who live elsewhere and practice Quakerism differently from me.
  •  Pray and listen.  Listen and pray.  


The teenage young woman whom I met out of the blue eight years ago when God told me at the last possible moment, "Get thee up and drive to thy yearly meeting session!"

The woman roommate I had immediately after college.

The Friends with whom I worship and whose buttons I push because I talk so much about God at the center, and Love as the guiding Principle.


Mark Wutka said...

Hi Liz,
There's something about this posting that just fills me. Thanks!
With love,

anj said...

Friend Mark speaks my mind.

Thank you Liz.


Aimee said...

I LOVE this post Liz! What a great exercise. I think, when I have a spare moment, I'm going to try to do my own. Probably a good exercise to do in preparation for my Spiritual Journey talk...

pwrcrr said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
earthfreak (Pam) said...

I don't get it. Perhaps because I don't strive to be obedient or a faithful servant. I'm not sure what I strive for. hmmmmm.....

A nudge to try (again!) to blog myself?

Mary Ellen said...

I was just about to type pretty much what Aimee said - so ditto for that. The lightness mixed with the absolute seriousness makes this piece especially appealing. It also helps me to know you in a new way. At core, the question: what do we yearn for? What is the work we are seeking - and doing while seeking? And - picturing the Divine Companion as potential employer - that's wonderful!

Liz Opp said...

Thanks to all of you for your comments. I wasn't sure if this post would speak to anyone's condition, but the concept of applying to God for a job got me thinking.

If any of you do in fact write your own "application," I hope you'll return here and leave a direct link to it for other readers to view it!


P.S. The comment I deleted appeared to be a rant on an unrelated topic--a rant that I deemed inappropriate for this space.

Linda (haven) said...

I LOVE this posting, particularly because I have been feeling rather down-trodden about not getting jobs for which I've been applying. You gave me a brainstorm about changing my focus, using this exercise, and getting the focus on vocation, not job! This is truly a time of trusting that we will be provided for, and listening deeply for God's answer, and this post uplifted me greatly!

Paul L said...

Your post reminds me of Herman Hesse's Siddhartha. When Siddhartha comes out of the wilderness and sits outside the home of Kamaswami the merchant, Kamaswami asks him how he will now live and get by. "What is it now what you've got to give? What is it that you've learned, what you're able to do?" Siddhartha replies, "I can think. I can wait. I can fast." Best resume ever.

Jeanne said...

This would make a great workshop exercise. But I bet you already thought of that, huh.

Robin M. said...

Hey Liz, do you think there's a problem if we're both applying for the same job? Or do you think there are enough openings at this level that we could both get it?

Hystery said...

This is brilliant, Liz.

Cat Chapin-Bishop said...

I am sad, because you say you push buttons among friends because you " so much about God at the center, and Love as the guiding Principle."

I understand that many of us need to work very hard at the discipline of "listening where the words come from"--certainly I do, when very Christian and Scriptural language is used with me.

I think it's my job to develop those disciplines, though. I think it's all of our jobs...

OK. That buttons get pushed doesn't mean that the people experiencing that aren't in their discipline, aren't working hard to hear you over whatever internal noise they, like I, have got. True.

But what is being a Quaker for, if not finding and keeping God/insert-your-own-holy-language-here at the center, and Love as our guiding principle?

Sad, Liz... Just... This makes me feel sad.

Liz Opp said...

Linda -

If this post gives you a new take on how to approach job searches, then I'm glad for you. Thinking outside the conventional box has its benefits--and its creative twists and turns.

Paul L -

Thanks for that Best Resume Ever. More for me to think about.

Jeanne -

Actually, I think it's a great idea to create use this exercise for a workshop. Thanks for the tip!

Robin -

Obviously MANY people apply for the same job all the time, especially in today's economy. What's great is that I imagine that God would want ALL of God's children to apply for the position of Faithful Servant... or Humble Follower... or Obedient Seeker...

My question to you and other readers here is What job would you apply for if there were an opening in God's kin(g)dom?

Hystery -

As with Aimee, Mary Ellen, Anj, and Mark, thanks for reading me.

Cat -

I have to remind myself, Cat, that perhaps a good deal of button-pushing is a result of my own anger or resentment that so few Friends seem to talk about what is at the center of our faith.

I've grown more disciplined over time, meaning that I speak less frequently when I feel that anger rise in me, but I still "leak." And thankfully there are still Friends who remind me that I often paint with too broad a brush.


Chris M. said...

Ditto! Sign me up for the workshop.

In California every county has its own Workforce Investment Board, which does things like sponsor job retraining for laid-off workers. Maybe we need a Godforce Investment Board?

And I agree with your comment that God would want all of us to apply for this job. And God might just accept us even if our credentials weren't as good as they might be.

earthfreak (Pam) said...

Robin and Chris, funny, cause I was just coming back to comment that I'm pretty sure we're all hired - just take it on and do your very best, no dress code, even!

earthfreak (Pam) said...

Liz - something about this has really been eating at me.

I think it's best articulated (but not completely encompassed) by the fact that I helped out someone facing homelessness this winter too (so, a point of connection) and it never once occurred to me to think "should I do this, as a faithful servant?" It only marginally occurred to me "should I do this as a good person?" - Mostly it was like "she really needs something, and I can do it"

I like it that way, but I know most people (including me) don't always think that way and trying to be a faithful servant maybe pushes us a little harder than we would push ourselves, or be naturally inclined to go.

But is it more noble, in your opinion, to care about people because we are all children of God, or just because you care about them? for me it's emphatically the latter. Which I'm thinking might be a big point of divergence from many religious folk