I spent yesterday morning in a tax accountant’s office, summing up the last year of my life in terms of dollars and cents. A rather dismal prospect, I must say.
Not only did I realize that I am living on a starving-artist budget, but I also realized that I can only keep about 70% of it, because the U.S. government is automatically entitled to the rest. Depressing.
On the bright side, it’s a blessing to have taxes to pay this year. It means I actually have work! After earning a degree in English and entering an extremely tight job market, work is a huge gift. And it means that dividing my time between writing, editing, tutoring, and blogging is more than a pipe dream. This is my job!
Which leads me to the lesson I learned from taxes yesterday.
Work is not, cannot be, just about making money. Many times I’ve thought of abandoning the writing and going to work in something more lucrative, just to have a good, steady salary. But what then? The more you make, the more the government takes (the joy of income tax). If you work hard and work is only for the purpose of making money, then poof! You lose 30% of your year’s labor every April. It just vaporizes, gone.
All that was left when I departed the tax accountant’s office were the other reasons I work–so I was glad I had some. Why work, other than for money? I think things like job satisfaction, knowledge that you’re helping people, pride in the quality of your work, good relationships with colleagues, and belief that what you’re doing matters to God and the world are what really matter in a job. No government can tax this income.
And when I started evaluating my jobs this way, I was encouraged. So I’m making peanuts? So what? I’m working with what I love (words), spending time in an environment I like, and believing that what I do with my time each day is making a difference. I’m following the vocation to which God has called me and sharing the words He’s given me with other people. I was made to do this work, and I’m doing it! Praise God!
And to top it off, I read this verse, Deuteronomy 12:7 last night, reminding me of the joy of good, God-blessed work: “You and your families shall eat and shall rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the LORD your God has blessed you.”
So is there really more to work than making money? What do you think makes a good job?