These jobs helped prepare me for life and ministry.
I learned much through these experiences. Years later, can I see how God used them. The following are the jobs I had in earlier years:
1. A paper route for The Dallas Morning News. My route consisted of four long streets in Dallas. This meant getting out of bed by 4:00 AM and being on my bike minutes later. On Sundays, the papers were so large that my mom drove me, folding these papers while I threw them from house to house (the newspapers had to be on the porch in those days). In the early morning hours, I noticed much about these houses. Different smells. Who had a dog. Whose lawn was manicured and who didn’t really have a lawn.
2. I worked for several years at a fast food restaurant. This was a Jack-in-the-Box. Drive through only. However, it was on a major street in Dallas. I worked nights and often throughout the night. This was my first job in which I dealt with people — lots of them. This was often dirty work. I remember coming home at nights reeking of grease from the deep fryers.
3. After I graduated from high school, I worked at Manor Bakery one summer. This was the hardest job I ever had. (This was a huge bakery. Bread, rolls, buns that would be distributed to grocery stores and restaurants throughout north Texas.) My job was working next to a huge bun oven. A larger conveyor belt would take hundreds of buns through this oven at one time. The buns would come out of the oven and huge suction cups would lift them out the pans and drop them onto another belt. I would then grab the pans that had just come out of the oven. It was a hot job in the Texas summer. I have memories of lots of burns that summer.
4. I worked for a couple of years for Hunt Oil Company in downtown Dallas. I worked on the 27th floor of the First National Bank Building, in the file room, shuffling files to this or that office. Occasionally I was sent to locate a file in the archives, which was four or five blocks away. I got there after morning classes and work the rest of the afternoon. I worked with a middle-aged, single parent who lived in Oak Cliff. She had no car and was totally dependent on the bus to get her wherever she wanted to go. She had two dresses. A blue and a red one, which she wore to work on alternate days.
5. For several years, I worked for United Parcel Service. Loading trucks. Unloading trucks. Driving and delivering. This was a good job. I began working there my last two years of college. Again, I worked nights. I have a lot of memories of conversations with the managers. These were often people who had been sent to work in Dallas from places like New Jersey, Salt Lake City, and Denver. I begin to notice that some of these people had now been through divorces and affairs. For some, work seemed to be the center of their world. It wasn’t that they loved their jobs. Rather, it reflected seemed to be the absence of any other center.
No doubt you’ve had your own experiences. You’ve had jobs maybe similar or quite different from these. Looking back, however, I can see how God has used some of these experiences in my life to help me connect with a variety of people. Yet, in some ways it doesn’t really matter whether or not I understand how these experiences have been useful. What matters is that I trust that God works through my history and through my present situation.
What about you? Is there any particular job you’ve had in the past for which you are especially thankful now?