The first thing I'm usually asked when I meet someone new is "what do you do?" And I'm equally guilty of asking others the same thing. Our culture puts so much focus on people's vocations, and I've fallen prey to the trap.
MORE TO THE STORY
But the things we do for our paychecks are not the only things that make us who we are.
For some of us, our day jobs aren't the things that hold the biggest places in our hearts. We may not want to be defined by them. They may only be placeholders and stepping stones and jobs paving the way to something else, allowing us to pursue what we really care about.
Perhaps our hearts have been captured by things not included in our day jobs-- in our families, our hobbies, our volunteering, our passions, our side projects, our causes, our dreams.
Those things have a way of showing more of our hearts and personalities than many of our paid jobs do. Those are the things we should be talking more about, the things we should be asking others questions about.
Even knowing this, I still find myself asking people right away what they do for a living, as if that's the most important thing I can learn about them.
I've been doing it all wrong.
I've been placing too much emphasis on what I do, and on what others do. What we do doesn't determine who we are. Who we are determines what we do.
I've been making my life and my evaluation of time well spent more about work than worship. And that's just backwards.
My life -and your life- is not merely about what work I do. No matter how noble the work, it's all pointless if I don't do it lovingly, if I don't live lovingly. Otherwise it just fades into the background behind me.
At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how many things I was able to check off my to-do list. It doesn't matter how much money I made or how much I accomplished if I didn't do it out of love-- love for the people I'm serving, love for the people I work with, love for the God I'm ultimately working for.
People don't remember what you did; they remember how you made them feel. They don't care what my title is or what your title is. All they want is our time and a piece of our hearts to be shared.
ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS
So when we meet new people, what are we supposed to ask? If "what do you do?" is the wrong question, what's the right question?
I don't think it's that black and white. What someone spends 40 hours doing every week is still obviously a viable topic of conversation. But let's not let it stop there. Let's also ask other questions.
Let's ask, "what do you like to do?" and "how do you like to spend your time?" and "if you could be doing anything right now, what would it be?"
Let's ask, "what has captured your heart lately?" and "what have you been learning?" and "what dreams do you have for the future?"
May we collectively dig deeper than each other's titles and positions to create a community of people who care about the things each of us holds dear.
I'll start. Dear friend, what has captured your heart lately? What are your dreams for the future? I'd love to hear from you in the comments! Or you can shoot me an email at email@example.com.
And if you're not sure what captures your heart or what you're passionate about, we can chat about that, and I can help you figure it out!