There are lots of quotes and half-quotes circulating which have the one mission of making everyone who isn’t in the lead or isn’t on top of the heap feel inadequate and without value. One I heard many years ago: if you aren’t the lead dog, the view never changes. Another: if you aren’t on top of the heap you are the heap.
There are others that I used to quip in response. My favorite: even if you win the rat race, you’re still a rat.
I confess that I was swept up in the ‘American dream’ of big houses and fancy cars and corner offices and vacation homes. From my childhood those ‘ideals’ were held out as goals to be attained and the only possible way to happiness. I learned the lessons well and I spent my entire career climbing ladder after ladder, changing ladders when it seemed I could go no further where I was. I maneuvered and worked — sacrificing quality time with my family for larger paychecks and longer commutes.
And then one day it hit me: I wasn’t happy. I did not like the work I did and I loathed the unethical behavior of my peers. It was at that point that I began to plan for an early retirement. EARLY. I wanted to be done with the workforce by the time I was fifty. I wanted OUT and I planned accordingly. Now my maneuvering took on an entirely different objective as I reorganized and rearranged myself out of one job after another. I could cut through red tape and abolish positions by analyzing work processes and determining which were necessary and which added no value. And I maneuvered myself right into a job that was entirely necessary but anyone could do. From there it was just a short jump to early retirement. I didn’t make it at fifty, but on my fifty-second birthday I said goodbye to the rat race for good!
I’ve been at the top. I had the huge office with panoramic views of the U. S. Capitol. I’ve been on junkets and traveled extensively as part of my work. I’ve had it all, and if I learned one thing it is this: the view at the top isn’t any different than it is at the bottom. The faces may change and the spaces may be larger, but the meaninglessness or meaningfulness of the job is dependent not upon its position on the ladder or upon the incumbents position in the pecking order — it is dependent upon the internal well-being of the incumbent: upon that person’s own sense of self-worth and whether or not they derive satisfaction from the work that they do.
I have been ‘retired’ for quite some time now, and I find I enjoy each day more than the day before. There is so much to do that it is sometimes hard to decide! But the view — the view is incredible! Because I enjoy what I do and I do it with all my heart, giving it everything I have.
My prayer for you is that you will do the same.
Colossians 3:23-24 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.