Wednesday, September 05, 2007


Until-Further-Notice-Peter said to me, slightly before my birthday (though not in relation to it), "Put in order, from what motivates you the most to what motivates you the least, these four things." (I think he constructed his sentence better, but I'm having trouble with syntax presently, it would appear.) The four things were Power, Relationships, Money, and Recognition. This is how I ordered them:

1. Relationships
2. Recognition
3. Power
4. Money

It is not really pertinent for me to tell you how UFN-Peter ordered them, although I might mention his order was pretty much entirely different from mine. How would you list them?

I've been thinking about this question and this order a lot over the last two months, for various reasons. One of the reasons is, naturally, because I've been feeling like the undercurrents of my life are shifting, while the details of my life aren't actually being allowed to change very drastically.

If relationships and recognition are my prime motivators, for example, it might explain why I was so distraught that tall-one-pump-vanilla-latte woman disdained my making of her drink. It might also explain why I feel so loyal toward my colleagues or why I care whether or not I remember that Customer-Angie's name is Angie and not (as I kept thinking it was for about a year) Debbie. The relationship thing also probably explains why I've been primarily happy working a job that some people would consider beneath them.

But the recognition piece hinders that, too. One time this customer, whom I actually like quite a lot, asked us how old her son had to be to work with us. "Eighteen," I told her. He was a year too young, which was disappointing to her because, as she said, "Next year he'll have to get a real job." I gently and teasingly called her out on this, and she was so apologetic that when she came in a month later she was still apologising . . . but the fact remains that very few people consider anything at Starbucks below management to be a "real" job. This kind of interaction is fairly common--even among my friends.

Heather was musing today about what happens if God called her to "ordinariness," and I guess I've been mulling over the same things. I see people I know doing great things. And I think I have the same capabilities as some of them. I don't really believe I'm meant to stay a Starbucks shift supervisor for my entire life, although I do expect I'll be there for a bit longer. But what if I was meant to? With all my motivators clamouring for my attention and desiring greatness, how would I know? And would I be able to do it?


Craver Vii said...

I haven't thought it all through, but relationships would definitely be #1 for me as well. It has more to do with God's general calling for us than the others. Love God more than anything. Love your neighbor as yourself. Love the brethren "as I have loved you." As I see it, recognition, power and money are all far, far below relationship.

Heather said...

I think I would want to put relationships first, but would struggle with recognition wanting to sneak up. They'd duke it out sometimes.
The key is to make sure the recognition I desire is from God.
As far as power and money, I don't know. Maybe money so that I could donate it to places like International Justice Mission. But then with power, you could be an influence, hopefully engendering the desire in others to love and give.

GreekGeek said...

Hmm, here I am still pondering your last post, and you go and add another post to leave me pondering... And I still have nothing profound to say. It's distressing!! All I can think is, yes, she's saying my thoughts... I agreed with your rankings, though, and with Craver - most of what I do is motivated by relationships, but sometimes I find I just can't resist from pointing out that 'oh, look, i just trimmed the hedge!' ...for recognition... *sigh* I'd like to be motivated by nothing but relationships... I htink. Actually, I suppose by love of God... see, this is why I needed to not write until I formulated my thoughts - I'm just rambling. sorry! love you, and hoping your processing leads to comfort and clarity... (quitting now, bowing silently out of the room, hoping no one notices my ungraceful retreat!) =]

David A. Zimmerman said...

I'm cynical, I know, but I have a hard time segregating off power from relationships. I will say that power comes first for me, followed by relationships and then recognition and then money. I'm just a wee bit like Dick Cheney, I guess . . .

But I'm also struck by your (and Heather's) thoughts on ordinariness. I hit that hard in the last year or so, lamenting my relative lack of power in my workplace (a Christian company, a detail that will become significant momentarily) and wondering what relationships I could exploit to change that. (See what I mean?) I took to blaming my church for a while, that the relative modesty of my church in relation to some of the more luminous ones in my area minimized the influence of my networks, and thinking the decision to join this small church a strategic blunder. The only way of coming to terms with that question was to face the ugly truth that I was actually frustrated by my limited options for exploiting my church, and to remember that I joined this modest church precisely because I wanted to localize the practice of my faith. Then I had to come to terms with the fact that to stay at the church would be to repeatedly face this icky side of myself, and to leave this church would be to indulge the part of myself I want to see dead.

Your friend's ranking question strikes me as a spiritual director's question. The thing about those four terms--power, money, relationships and recognition--is that they're all real; money may be the least real of all of them, since it's simply a medium of exchange acquired by virtue of the other three. So the question becomes something like "Of all that you see, what do you crave most?"

Jenn said...

Wow. Someone was recently hypothesising that I'm too transparent in this blog (I think she changed her mind later), but see, if I hadn't been, none of you would have said all this cool stuff. I can't stop thinking about it. Thanks for participating in the discussion, and in the thought-processes. Feel free to keep talking!

Annelise said...

I really appreciated Dave Zimmerman's thought-provoking response to this blog session--and his transparency. The other comments were also very insightful. Seems like transparency is maybe what the church needs to see more often.

Hokum Rock said...

Just a short comment about working at Starbucks, where is your life going, all that stuff...

I attended a workshop at "Congress" in Boston a few years ago. The speaker was very good, but the one thing I came away with that he said is, "Everything counts."

It doesn't matter where you're living/working while you wait for God's direction in your life. God wants you to make the most of where you happen to be right now.

I'm sure you'll move on at some point, but you'll remember people, opportunities, and how God was with you all the time.

I think of it often: "Everything counts."

Jenn said...

HR--Thanks for the helpful reminder. I am always going on in that vein, because in my head I believe everything counts . . . but it's hard to feel like that all the time when all you do is serve entitled-feeling people expensive novelty drinks. I do think what I do counts. I think I've just been torn/puzzled because I keep thinking I'm being directed another way, only to find myself back where I started.

Scott said...

that is how I feel at times. Being in the cube at work. and rarely in the cube since I am up and about researching things that are not done by others and myself. But it is the ordinariness that gives comfort and stability. And it is the familiarity of the family of people that one works for too.

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