It was yet another rainy Wednesday morning when I walked into the Russell Senate office building. I set my umbrella against the wall and got to straight to work. Before me were dozens of letters from 2009 with tea bags attached. My job for the rest of the day was to go through the letters, remove staples, and put the letters in order in a folder. The office did not have a proper staple remover, so I used my calloused fingers to get the job done. On this same day, everyone else around me was attending hearings, researching legislation, meeting with Senators, and giving tours of the Capitol building.
Such experiences are quite common for recent college graduates. They start their new life out, maybe even at their dream job, and they find themselves removing staples or shredding papers. They gave so much in college to going far in life; they built up a large wealth of knowledge and experience. Yet they are now using almost none of it, and they are watching the others in the office do everything that they wanted to do.
In a competitive environment like the Washington metropolitan area, there’s only so much room for accomplished people to live together and be extremely successful. This concept evokes Abraham and Lot’s story told in Genesis 13. Abraham and Lot were two wealthy and powerful individuals who could not live in the land together. In the end, Abraham let Lot select the land that he wanted first and Abraham would pick whatever was left over. Lot picked the land that was immediately more pleasing to the eye while Abraham was left with the land that would only later be blessed immensely by God. Such a decision required deep faith on Abraham’s part. He was forced to trust that God would be faithful and provide for him what he needed.
Such is the case when we feel that we are “underemployed.” Though we may have the skills to do great and important things with immediate benefits, God in his sovereign plan may give someone else the job that we desire. When this happens, all we can do is rely on the Lord and work unto Him.
This has perhaps been my biggest struggle since working in a Senate office. Though I’ve only been working there for a brief period, I have been tempted to believe that my tasks are boring and not “real” compared to what the others in the office do. I have only barely gotten to use my knowledge of public policy and history and am doing tasks that someone with a high school education or less could complete. Instead of feeling insignificant, I should be thanking God for the position he has given me and trust that he is faithful. Why not practice patience?
After all, Abraham was eventually rewarded for his patience. While Lot chose the satisfying land first, he was left empty and his city was destroyed. Faithful Abraham listened to God’s promises and was rewarded beyond all measure. He was advanced in years, but a nation grew out of his seed. Though I should not necessarily expect material blessings for waiting, I do believe that God will bless me spiritually. He has good things in store for me. Besides, shouldn’t I be working unto the Lord and not to impress men?
So, next time I walk into work and see that giant stack of newspapers to be folded and given to each staff member, I will remember Genesis 13. I will remember that God’s favor does not always fall on the one who is given much. I will trust that God has plans to give me “a hope and a future.” Why fall victim for the standards that this world sets on what is a worthy career? Doing my work with joy and excitement has to be its own reward until the Lord gives more. Besides, removing staples can sometimes be fun.
Eric Peterman interns on Capitol Hill and is a member of the 2015-2016 Falls Church Fellows Program.
Images: FreeImages.com/Tomasz Kowalczyk, Debora Prado