One of the turning points in my life was a brief note left on my desk when I was county executive.
A man came by my office, and I was not there. He left me a note that simply said, "I am praying for you in your ministry here at the courthouse."
Whoever considered a politician a minister? I dare to say most people think most politicians are crooks. Polls show they rank near used-car salesmen in the public's estimation of their character. And here was an old fellow calling my work a "ministry"!
It hit me so hard I got up and closed the door to my office and sat at my desk for several minutes pondering his words. It changed my entire attitude toward my work.
Now that I am writing an autobiography, I have seen the wisdom in his words. I can see that just about any job can be viewed as a ministry to the people. It has changed me even more because it has given me a new view of callings.
I suppose I was grown before I heard of anyone feeling a calling to any work except preaching. And I once felt such a call, but I think my mother and my Aunt Carrie gave it to me rather than some divine source, for after a brief time of experimentation, I could see that being a preacher was not for me. I was too busy trying to figure out what I believed to be telling others what they should believe.
Yet as I have been writing and looking over my life and all the jobs I have held, I have seen that I was "called" to each one by some circumstance or need. Like the time I worked as a weekend guard at a bank building to supplement my starvation-level teacher's pay.
One night in doing my building check, I found a book on a lawyer's desk titled "How To Make a Habit of Success," and I read it as I sat at my guard post. It changed me. It gave practical tips on how to find and use your major strengths. Using its lessons, in three months I doubled my salary, and in six months I doubled it again. Think what you will, but I now believe life "called" me to that job to find that book and to change some fundamental ideas in my mind.
I have even gone a step further to see that wherever we are and whatever we are doing we are called to minister like that man's note said. It is in the very act of seeing ourselves as ministers to people that we reach down and tap the deepest parts of our own selves. It ennobles our being and our work.
Writing my autobiography has forced me to test this idea across the landscape of my entire life. I cannot see a single job I have held as anything less than a calling at the time I held it. Yes, even politics. If all politicians had this view of their work, we could instantly upgrade the quality of politics in America.
All jobs serve people. Viewing ourselves as their servants imparts a higher motivation to our labor.
We are all "called" - called to give the world our very best.