This week marked my 12th Anniversary of working at Consignments Unlimited and ShopCrownhouse. Twelve years ago, I never would have imagined I’d still be working for the same company (and certainly wouldn’t have imagined enjoying it as much as I do!) What started out as—and what remained for several years as—merely a way to earn a paycheck has become a true joy and passion. I love the vision and values behind our company. I love the people I get to work with. I love my boss. She models leadership uniquely, powerfully, and beautifully.
Just last week, on a slow, rainy day, my boss decided to take on a messy task that everyone else had been avoiding. She didn’t fault them for it (they were busy with other tasks); she just rolled up her sleeves and got to work. She models servant leadership and does it with a grateful heart. This week, she was rejoicing over the fact that she got to share the gospel with a woman who was attempting to steal from our store! She wasn’t angry or upset—she was literally giggling with joy! She is truly a remarkable woman.
The greatest testament to my boss’s success is the quality of the team she has surrounded herself with (and, no, I’m not humble-bragging about myself). My coworkers are some of my favorite people on the planet! They are integrous, they are incredibly talented, they don’t complain, and they work hard. Together, we make a powerful force. When I started working for the company, we had a small storefront on a side street in town. There were maybe six employees (myself included). Today, we have two locations, three businesses, triple the staff, and we’re constantly growing.
I’ve learned many things over the past 12 years. First, whatever you do, do it with your whole heart. I had zero passion for “stuff” when I started working here. I’m more of a minimalist by nature. I don’t like shopping, and I hate clutter. Go figure I’d make a living collecting other people’s stuff and reselling it! Early in the job, I remember going into my parents’ room crying because I hated my job at the time and felt guilty earning a living by “contributing to our materialistic western culture” (my humanitarian values came with a heavy dose of naiveté back then). I don’t remember exactly what they told me, but I know it was along the lines of, “This is just a season. Be faithful, work hard, and God will give you the desires of your heart.” I did exactly that, and in the process, God began growing a desire in me that has never subsided. I began to see my job as the amazing benefit that it is to my community (both local and global), and a deep love for my neighbors, coworkers, and even for the tasks I was doing began to bloom.
The second thing my job has taught me is that anything worth having requires patience. I can remember seasons of working at my job and being riddled with depression. My work at the time was a drudgery, and home offered little comfort. The hours seemed to last forever. I was suffering from a ruptured eardrum then, so I worked by myself a lot, and I avoided talking to people.
The amazing thing that happened in such a bleak season of life is I learned to hear God. While my physical ears weren’t working, my spiritual ears had this heightened awareness. I remember encountering God in the back of the warehouse doing some of the most mundane jobs I’ve ever done. He poured out His love and His grace on me and filled my mind with beautiful lyrics and melodies. I grew to crave those times of being alone with God. To this day, I look on that season of life with profound appreciation (I’m writing this through tears just thinking about it).
I’ve learned a million more things at my job, but the last I will mention is this: the difference between hell on earth and blissful contentment is a little thing called gratitude. It’s heartbreakingly tragic how many celebrities and powerful people commit suicide because their lives just aren’t what the world makes them out to be. I’ve found that the greatest joy and a peace that surpasses reason isn’t won with fame, money, or power; it’s won with gratitude.
The Apostle Paul told the Philippian church that he had learned to be content in any circumstance (Phil. 4:11). I thank God that my circumstances have never been as bleak as Paul’s. Paul experienced imprisonments, beatings, stonings, shipwrecks, hunger, thirst, and many other hardships. Still, Paul’s response to being imprisoned with Silas was to sing praise to God. One of the most frequent sayings of Paul’s epistles is “I thank God” (in some form of the phrase). His letters are dripping with gratitude. He thanks God for the Romans, the Corinthians, the Philippians, the Thessalonians, for Timothy, for Philemon, and many others. He encourages the Ephesians and the Colossians to give thanks in all things.
I can attest that genuine gratitude has been the key to genuine joy in my life. I thank God for my job. I thank God for the provisions to live, to eat healthfully, to attend ministry school in California, to buy a car, to graduate from college, to be a blessing to others, and to buy gifts for the people I love. I thank God for the amazing people I get to work with. I thank God for the sense of purpose I feel in serving a vision that I can wholeheartedly get behind.
My job comes with its fair share of stress, conflict, and drudgery … but it also comes with deep satisfaction. One of my greatest joys is hearing those I train share the wisdom, joy, and accomplishment they’ve found in a job well done. I hope and pray to God that that joy will only multiply in the years and generations to come.