Friday, August 29, 2014

Focus Friday: Let's Focus on Labor

I don't have time to write this post. If you have a full-time job you probably don't have time to read this post. At least that's what I'm concluding because I've joined the workforce and I don't have time for anything lately!

In spite of our lack of time, I'm still going to spend a few minutes here and ponder the topic of "Labor." With the holiday weekend almost here and "Labor" as the theme for our writers group challenge for Tuesday night, I thought I'd kill two birds with one stone.

I probably need to apologize before I even begin. My brain feels fuzzy so I don't even know if I'll make sense. Hopefully you can glean a coherent thought or two from my ramblings tonight and we can all learn as we focus on Labor today.

On August 15 I began my full-time job as Spanish teacher at North Butler High School in Greene, Iowa. The first few days were a breeze...the students weren't there yet! On August 20 the real work began as I got in front of 7 classes. I love the students. They are all really unique and I'm enjoying getting to know each of them.

The things that are driving me crazy are...computers, online textbooks, lesson plans, keeping track of about a hundred different usernames and passwords, trying new things in the classroom with varying degrees of success (most of it is going really well).

I guess what I'm finally realizing is that this is a job. It's labor. It's hard because it's my first year back in the classroom after a 24 year break. Right now it's pretty stressful, but I need to keep plugging away. I keep thinking about how much easier next year will be because I'll know how things work much better, but that doesn't help me now.

What I've also noticed lately is that I'm not working very efficiently. I come home from school (after staying late) and I piddle my way through the evening until it's finally after 11 and I know I have to get to bed or I'll be exhausted the next day, but I still don't quite have my lesson plans finished.

How can that be? I went through several hours and didn't accomplish the main thing I needed to get done. Well, it happens like this: Sit down at the table to work and open the computer to look at the online textbook. Think about school email and wonder if I have any messages. Check that. Wonder if I have any messages in my other email. Check that. Decide to get some ideas and support from a language teachers blog. Great idea, but I spend too much time perusing posts. Click out of the browser and look at lesson plan book. Feel the anxiety rising as I realize I'm not ready for the next day yet. Go check and see if a load of laundry is done yet. Come back and sit down. Work half-heartedly for a while, then repeat the cycle. Ugh. This is work. Hopefully I will learn to do it more efficiently as time goes by.

I admire everyone who has put in 8 hour days for years and years and years without complaint (at least none I've ever heard). I guess as we focus on Labor here I just want to have us think about what's most important. Even more important than the job we do is our relationship with the Lord. I'm afraid I've been trying to go it alone too much in recent days. I'm busy and stressed and I worry too much about how I look and act. One day during lunch I finally got back to where my focus should be. I sat and read Philippians 4:6-7 about not being anxious but praying about everything so we can have the peace of God. It helped. I felt better.

Whatever your job may be, I'd just like to remind you to keep your focus on Christ in the midst of whatever tasks and challenges you may have. Keep up the good work!

"What does the worker gain from his (or her) toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in his toil--this is the gift of God." (Ecclesiastes 3:9-13 NIV)

Do you work efficiently at whatever job you may have? Do you remember to keep God your central focus so that you can find satisfaction in your toil?

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