When the High Muckety Muck from my organization was leaving this week and a new Muckety Muck arriving, a party followed the passing along of the muck. At that party, I met an old friend and colleague from Washington, DC, DR. He is getting ready to retire, he told me, from his influential position. Then, he asked me if I had considered retiring from my current position.
I have enough time in the organization to do that because work in related organizations in the past counts, but I am not old enough. However, I could take an exceptionally early retirement and make out okay, especially if I were to take a post-retirement, double-dip job, which is what DR had in mind.
He went on to tell me that there are not one, but THREE, positions of high status (and big money) in Washington about to open up because their long-term incumbents are retiring soon. DR told me that all three incumbents, including he himself, would like me to be their successor. I do have the qualifications and experience to hold any one of those jobs and would just have to nibble at the bait that they are holding in front of me.
Certainly, the money would be much better than I am earning now, especially if it were to be added to retirement income from my current job. Opportunities for moonlighting and consulting would be much more plentiful. So, from the point of view of $$ and what they will buy -- a comfortable retirement, a luxurious home, money to travel now and after retirement, nice stuff, an inheritance for the kids -- these opportunities are enticing.
From the point of view of excitement and rubbing shoulders with national power mongers, just thinking about any one of these positions brings a rush of power-fueled headiness. I would be associating not only with the people about whom one reads in the national news but also with the people who write about them and who would write about me. Now that brings a great sense of importance! Self-efficacy, Self-esteem! Confidence and pride!
From the point of view of making a national contribution, the work itself will be a contribution. I could leave a legacy, see my name in lights, make my kids proud.
It sounds like I could have any of the three without much competition. DR suggested that I drop by the next time I am in Washington and, preferably, sooner rather than later. Neat! I did not drive home. I floated home on some kind of elevated cloud and wisped up to Donnie, giving him the great news.
He looked at me quizzically, "Would you really want to move away from San Ignatio? I would not trade San Ignatio for Washington!"
Oh, yeah, that! I would have to leave my sleepy little sacred town for the big city of neon and naughtiness (well, and a lot of goodness, too). No, I don't want to do that. Not really.
"I have a thought," I countered. "Since they are coming to me and not the other way around, I could probably work nearly any kind of deal with them within reason, including ten-hour days, so that I could have 4-day weekends, allowing me to commute from here."
Now, I have to give Donnie a lot of credit. He did not think the idea of commuting was crazy. You see, at one time I was living in California and working in Jordan. That was quite a commute. Another time, I was living in California, working in Washington (same commute that I was suggesting to Donnie), and, at the same time, going to school in Moscow. So, my definition of commute is pretty broad compared to the general population of the USA. The only folks who have a longer commute, I would say, are the astronauts, who commute from Cape Kennedy to the International Space Station.
There was only one fly in the ointment. The town I live in is the place God planted me. The job I have is the job God picked for me (for details, see my post on this: The Jobs God Would Not Let Me Have and the One He Insisted I Take and Keep). I have already seen some reasons for both my location and employment. I assume that there are more reasons that I may or may not find out later. The reasons don't really matter. What matters is being where God wants me to be. Thoughts about these new Washington positions created feelings of excitement in me, independent of anything holy. Thoughts about my current position, San Ignatio, and Old Mission bring feelings of peace, happiness, comfort, and belonging. Ah, hah! I think that is what discernment is about -- determining where God wants us.
I suppose if I were to try to march away from here, God would close those positions, just like he did others earlier. I like to think, though, that it is much better to walk away from the temptation on my own and accept the work that God gives me.
So, good-bye big money. For what did I need you, anyway? I already have anything you can buy. My current job will give me a comfortable enough retirement. I really don't need much to be happy. A luxurious home creates the need to pay cleaners and helpers, pour money into maintenance, and spend more time in caring for the home than in other more important endeavors such as caring for the homeless. Money to travel? Puh-leez! My current job has me up in the air most of the time. My great desire is to be on the ground, my own ground. Nice stuff? And just what am I supposed to do with it? Donnie and I already once gave away nearly everything we owned when we moved in 2000 from a 13-room house to an RV. An inheritance for the kids? Well, back in the year 2000 give-away, the family sentimental and heirloom stuff went to them, and as far as any large monetary sums are concerned, that is not the kind of inheritance I want to give them. I want to leave them diligence, self-reliance, knowledge, capabilities, parenting skills, study skills, and good character, along with a sense of joy, peace, and love, i.e. the ability to make their own inheritance.
But wait, what about that great sense of importance and self-esteem that comes from rubbing shoulders with the powerful? Oh, right, I am already important as a child of God, and there is no one more powerful than He with whom I could possibly rub shoulders. Anything more is illusion and hubris. Nope, I don't need any overweaning pride or false self-esteem.
So, golly, I guess I am not going to make that national contribution, not leave a legacy. Hm, wait. I am already making an international contribution through my current position. True, I don't get a lot of personal international headlines. The contribution is known, but the contributor is not. I think that is how it should be. Yes, I can be and am happy with that. I don't need my name in lights, and, as for my kids, they are already proud of me, just the way I am, as I am of them, just the way they are. There is nothing lacking after which I have to chase across an entire continent. Better to remain still and enjoy what all that I have right here.
As I reflect on the negative sides of these tempting offers, it is easy to see the immense treasure I have right where I am. Most of my children are here. So is God, according to Doah, who announced when he first arrived at our new place, "God here," and according to a friend from, of all places, Washington, DC who announced after walking around town for a few minutes, "etot gorod namolein" (this town is soaked in prayer). So have been the tasks that God has given me in the last few years. My support, too, has been here, in the simple folk in our prayer group, in the naive teens in our catechism class, in the yearning-for-understanding townspeople in our Bible Study group. Good people. God's people.
Fortunately, it only took a few minutes for me to see the potential job offers for what they are: a temptation to move away from where God put me, step back from the taskings He has given me, and surround myself with people other than those to whom He brought me. I do get to choose, though. That is what free will is all about, right? In that case, I choose what God wants for me. I find just as much, if not more, excitement in that than in the money, neon, and power being offered by DR. More important, just the thought of choosing God's simpler, humbler way brings a sense of perfect peace.
Whew! Close call!