If there’s one thing guaranteed to discourage in the workplace, it’s having a sense of being anonymous; the tasks are mundane and you only feel a small part of a large impersonal system; you have little influence or authority and you feel that your job is of insignificant value. Whenever anyone writes a book or arranges a conference or even broadcasts in the media it seems to be aimed at the chief executives, senior managers or decision makers. What about the packers, shop assistants or shop floor workers? What indeed about the majority? Is it possible to find meaning in the mundane? I think so.
I regularly shop at a local DIY warehouse. There are about seven assistants in the store at any one time and most of them live up to my expectations and are not particularly friendly or helpful. They clearly consider that they are doing me a favour by letting me pay their wages. But there is one person in the checkout who asks me how I am. He talks to me about what I’m going to do with the goods that I am buying and he jokes with my daughter as he packs the items. The other day I was in the store feeling a bit low. This man’s approach to his work cheered me up immensely. This assistant was taking an ordinary repetitive task and doing it his way. He was stamping his character, style and personality on his work. In other words he was signing his own work. If he were an artist he would add his signature; if he were writing important letters he would sign his name; as it is, he is marking his work by the way he treats his customers.
So how can you personalise your work? I’ll give you three examples. Someone recently explained to me that her job involved endless mail-outs. Recently she has taken to praying for the recipients of the information. Secondly I read an account the other day of a packer who started to include thoughts for the day in his packaging and incidentally became very popular for so doing. The third and last example is all around you. “The heavens declare the glory of God” – God has signed his work. He’s left his mark everywhere that the eye can see. And he’s had some pretty repetitive work to do in making six billion of us. Look at your fingerprint – it’s God’s signature showing you that you are not from a production line. If we took a sample of DNA from you, it too would be unique.
I don’t know how you can sign your work – nor should I. You’ll have to find a way of writing your own signature. When you do you’ll be in very good company, for God will join in and allow himself a smile that you’ve picked up this characteristic of his. I’ll sign off with my usual…
1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
3 There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.
4 Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
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