In four weeks, I will have been in business for myself for eighteen years. That’s a huge milestone! I haven’t held any other job that long.
I dove into freelance writing without a plan or formal training. I simply wanted complete flexibility to take care of my dad when he was diagnosed with an incurable form of cancer.
God honored my no-plan choice—but not just for any noble aspiration I had. He knew I would need that experience for more than a two-year season of caregiving. He got my freelancing sea legs under me to prepare me for everything that came after that. Six years later, I got sick with a “mystery illness” that almost took my life. Illness forced me to work from home because I had no other choice, and my husband left me in the middle of it. Life was a far cry from what I’d planned.
But there’s a bigger story to tell here. One that parallels a chapter in the life of Leah—Jacob’s first, lesser-loved wife.
Leah’s life didn’t turn out the way she’d planned. Her father (Laban) tricked his nephew (Jacob) into marrying her. Leah knew Jacob didn’t love her. She strived at her “job” (bearing children), in the hopes it would bring her love and satisfaction. Genesis 29 chronicles her saying, “Maybe Jacob will love me now” after the birth of each of her first three sons. Interestingly, the name “Leah” means both “delicate” and “weary.” I think Leah had a corner on both those markets.
But something changed when Leah had her fourth son (Judah). She no longer considered her “work” as a way to earn Jacob’s favor. Instead, she said, “This time I will praise the Lord” (Genesis 29:35). We aren’t privy to the impetus for that transformation. All we can see is the result. When Leah set aside what people expected of her and made praising the Lord her primary goal, it set her free from worldly striving.
Work-life lessons from Leah
You’ve likely heard that God should be your only boss. That’s easy to say, harder to do. I’ve had to decide how to walk that out with every writing project. Most of my customers are very demanding, so it’s natural for me to strive to please them. Each customer is my “temporary boss.” If I don’t meet or exceed their expectations, I won’t get paid or get repeat business. But aiming for excellence in my work shouldn’t cause me to lose sight of the only One whom I should strive to please and honor.
In the past year, that was put to the test in hard ways. I turned down two jobs because ethically I could not write what the customers demanded I write. In both cases, I suffered major fallout beyond obvious financial loss. But God was faithful to bring me better work. Not right away, but in His perfect timing.
I am utterly dependent upon Him for each month’s work, the energy to do it, and the clarity to do it correctly, with excellence. God is my boss; and whatever work I’m awarded, the true work that underlies all I do is whether I praise God in the way I do it. When I get that right, I don’t feel drained or dissatisfied.
Whatever work you do—regardless of whether you get paid for it or not—who is your boss? Choose God. He is the kindest, fairest, smartest boss you can ever have!
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