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Doing work that matters

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Karen and I are off to Cambodia this morning. It’s an hour to the airport, 14 hours to Seoul, Korea, a two hour layover, and 6 hours to Siem Reap, Cambodia. We arrive at 10:30 pm and will probably go right to bed if we’re lucky. We wake up the next morning and immediately start debriefing our Wor…
By Seth Barnes
angkor2Karen and I are off to Cambodia this morning. It’s an hour to the airport, 14 hours to Seoul, Korea, a two hour layover, and 6 hours to Siem Reap, Cambodia. We arrive at 10:30 pm and will probably go right to bed if we’re lucky. We wake up the next morning and immediately start debriefing our World Race squad.
One of the things I worry about on travel days is this blog. It’s all I can do to put my clothes in the suitcase, make sure I’ve got a passport, and get to the airport on time. But then, I also want to try and say something to you blog readers before leaving.
 
And here’s the thought that goes through my head that I think goes through most of our heads about what we do:
 
“I wonder if any of this work really matters?”
 
I’m a pretty confident person, but I have my moments where I wonder if I’m any good. What if I’m fooling myself?
 
Take this blog for example. I wrote yesterday’s post about having poetry in life. I read it to Emily and she said, “Wow, Dad – that’s the best thing you’ve written.”
 
But then I looked at yesterday’s number of page views and it was substantially down from the average number.
 
“What’s going on?” I thought. And then, “So what if people don’t notice – what matters is if it’s good and if I’m doing what I’m called to do.” It’s a stupid internal dialogue that we’ve all got. You don’t want to care, but you do. The self-talk can turn into self-chatter if left unchecked. People get neurotic this way.
 
When we do work that seems to be poorly received, it’s normal to ask the question. Calcutta is a hard place to do ministry. Mother Teresa’s journals were released after her death. Many years she received little encouragement. And the angst she felt poured out into her journals. “Am I making a difference? Does any of this matter?”
 
To ask these questions is normal. Life is too short to do work that doesn’t matter. God gives us experiences that break our hearts and something inside us says, “That’s not right – maybe I need to change that.”
 
And maybe you do. And maybe because of that decision, someone’s life changes. Your work needs to matter to someone. Maybe you get paid for it, maybe not, but it needs to make a difference. And we need to encourage one another if the world is a better place because of our work.
 
My coworkers in Cambodia are doing work that matters. Little girls are sold into sex slavery. They need to be rescued and they need to have a chance at a normal life. My coworkers pour out every day and often feel like they’ve got nothing left. They need encouragement and they need clarity about their plans. It’s worth a long flight to have those conversations.
 
Does your work matter? How do you know?

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