Paul lived and worked with them, for they were tentmakers just as he was. Each Sabbath found Paul at the synagogue, trying to convince the Jews and Greeks alike. And after Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul spent all his time preaching the word. Acts 18:3-5
“Remember, Paul built tents for a living.” These are the words my pastor often speaks to me as I explain how my job can be unfulfilling on many days.
But, really….some days I just don’t want to build anymore tents!
A little over two years ago, I left a full-time position-one I had held for 11 years. I left a place where I was comfortable, where I was fully vested in my retirement plan, and where I was also highly stressed, and took a part-time position in a new place, with new people, and different, less stressful responsibilities. This new position would help in many ways. It would help me go back to school full-time to pursue God’s call to be a counselor, and a minister. It would help me be able to take our autistic son to his various appointments and therapy sessions, and it would allow me time to do my homework, and be at home to help my children with theirs.
Getting this new job was a blessing. And it continues to be. I have a job with flexibility, a very understanding boss, and I have time to do all the things I have listed above.
But, honestly…there are days I am downright bored. There are days I just don’t know what my purpose is at work, and there are days when I know I just don’t want to build anymore tents.
“Remember, Paul built tents for a living.”
And on those days when I have had enough of “tent making,” I try to remember these words. I try to remember that a man as great as Paul, one who ministered to various churches, and authored 13 books of the Bible, also built tents.
“If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of people you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.” Fred Rogers (aka: “Mr Rogers”)
I came across the above quote after a conversation I had with a co-worker who had also been wondering what her purpose was at work. Both of us know we have a purpose and are called by God to do work outside of the daily grind, but we cannot for the life of us understand why in the world we are still “making tents.”
After reading Rogers’ words, it dawned on me. Maybe this part-time blessing was never about me at all. Sure, it has helped our family at a time when we really needed it, but perhaps my being here now, still building those tents, has nothing to do with my schoolwork, my family, or my life balance. Maybe it is so I can touch the life of another person. Maybe it is to help someone else in finding their purpose. Maybe it is simply to be the light of Jesus to everyone I encounter. Maybe my being in this place at this time is to help someone find Him. Find God. Enter His kingdom. And, maybe I will never know what impact I have had or who I may affect along the way. Maybe I will never know how many people will see Jesus though this “tentmaker.”
“But as for you, be strong and courageous, for your work will be rewarded.” 2 Chronicles 15:7
Though I may not see the fruits of my labor in this season. Though I may not know who I touch, or who I lead, I know God will reward me for my perseverance and dedication to His purpose for me.
So, I will steadfastly “build tents,” limit my moping and grumbling, and keep ever present in my mind that one day God will say to me, “Well done good and faithful servant.”