A job, a career, a
When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”
On this Sunday after Christmas we especially honor the humble shepherds who heard the angelic proclamation and responded.
Some historians have posited that the shepherds who were called the evening of Jesus’ birth were the very shepherds who tended the sheep used in sacrifice at the Temple. In the modern day, the Hebron Road runs between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. It is about nine kilometers, about twenty-two minutes by car from one place to the other, so we could imagine that the Temple sheep and lambs were kept in the fields along that nine kilometers, six-and-a-half-mile route. It’s not that far.
The symbolism there is pretty mighty. God calls those who cared for the Temple sacrifices, the lambs offered up for the sins of the people, to be the first to visit the Lamb of God.
Dr. Amy Wrzesniewski, a professor at the Yale School of Management, established three different, defined contexts of work: job, career and calling:
A job provides you with pay and perhaps some benefits. A job is primarily about earning a paycheck. People who hold jobs are typically more invested in their lives outside of work. Work is merely the way they afford to do the things they love. They do not see their job as a place to learn, gain experience or increase connections.
A career is what you do for yourself. Career people are also working for the paycheck but are more driven to seek out opportunities for advancement. People with a career orientation tend to have a long-term vision for their future, set goals and enjoy competition with colleagues.
Those with a calling however feel a deep alignment between their vocation and who they are as a person. They feel a personal and emotional connection to their work. They are enthusiastic, have a sense of purpose and are willing to work harder and longer to make a contribution. Unsurprisingly, this group is often the most satisfied with their life’s work.
What did the shepherds have and where did they end up? It is likely that they saw their work as a job. There wasn’t much room to learn or advance. Where they ended, and where we need to end is with a calling. For they were changed by their encounter with Jesus and they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child.