Who's the boss?

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

Who do you work for? I used to think that self-employment was a dream come true, because if my boss tried to fire me or wouldn't give me the day off, then I'd have no one to blame but myself. So while I was juggling being a mom and finishing my college degree, I placed an ad in my local paper, advertising my services as a cleaning lady.

After several jobs, it became clear to me that there are two types of people in this world – those who want their house cleaned and those who want a servant. (I almost added those who have antiques, but that's another story.) The people who wanted to extract a pound of sweat for a small amount of money would find jobs for me to do and watch me every moment. This invention of extra work and the lack of trust, in addition to the regular cleaning I offered, made me feel cursed, like Adam, to till the soil.

It was after I spent a particularly grueling afternoon scrubbing a woman's ceiling (think: hot day, no air conditioning, head in awkward position looking up while standing on a ladder) that it dawned on me: Only work for the people who want their house cleaned. So I did. Many grateful clients would trust me to let myself into their homes, clean and scrub at whatever pace I was comfortable, and they would, in turn, come home to shiny, sweet-smelling homes. I learned of the particular areas where they wanted extra attention, and would even cook a meal and leave it for some clients.

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Several years ago I put a quotation on the frame of my computer screen: "Find a job that you love, and you will never work a day in your life." I also had a bookmark with a drawing of a child pointing her finger in an accusatory fashion. Above her head were the words "Snap Out of It!" Those two items were guidelines to me. As a student of the Bible, I cherished the words of Jesus when he told his disciples the last would be first and we all must become servants to each other.

Serving one another also means treating one another with dignity, regardless of the nature of the employment. I was happy to scrub the bathrooms of my clients. So when I went on to more traditional jobs, with bosses I had to report to, I took that lesson with me. The "Snap Out of It" girl reminded me not to drift off into a dream-like acceptance of suffering to earn my income.

Later, I worked as part of a team of people who cared for others when they were ill. I came to appreciate the qualities of the nurses, who had long stopped regarding menial tasks as work. Every aspect, from bed-making to bedpan-changing, was an act of love. A privilege. A spiritual opportunity. I was in awe of the dedication of this group of workers, and took that lesson with me into my own work experience.

The years I spent dreading my yearly evaluation, trying to please different supervisors, necessitated a change of perspective. Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Monitor, wrote, "Man is tributary to God, Spirit, and to nothing else" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 481). I began to go to my Father-Mother God in prayer for guidance and support. Looking for the deeper symbolism in each job enabled me to appreciate each task as an opportunity, as with the story about the man who is doing difficult physical labor, cutting the stone for a project. Several other workers say they are laborers cutting stone, moving stone, etc. This man says, "I am helping to build a cathedral." That larger perspective of what each of us is doing has helped me embrace every task with joy.

I am self-employed again, this time praying for others who want to feel more connected to God's love and ever-presence. Someone once told me three different views of the work I do. The newcomer says, "I'm grateful to be working for God." After a few years, he says, "I'm so grateful to be working with God." And after many years he says, "I'm so infinitely grateful to watch God work."

Join me in a revolt against enslavement and suffering to earn a living. You work for someone who will never give you a negative evaluation, never fire you, never lose sight of your true potential. You are God's beloved child, in whom He is well pleased.

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