Using the Word “Just”
Living as a Southern California (after 13 years I can proudly say this out of the side of my mouth) I have grown accustomed to hearing placeholder words and sounds such as “like,” “uh,” “ah,” and “just.” At times when I listen, I get caught up in these words and my inner thoughts want to share with the other what I hear…or maybe I surmise I could mimic their speech and see if they catch on?
It was in a college ministry setting when I first noticed people throwing in the word “just” and it surprised me. I was new at praying aloud with a group and I heard other students throw in the world “just” into about every other sentence. It was difficult to understand why people would speak this way with God when we did not seem to talk this way with each other.
In recent years, I have heard adults use the word “just” regarding what they do for work.
“I am just a therapist.”
“I am just a teacher.”
“I am just a mom.”
“I was just doing my job.”
In this way, this common word comes up in conversations with friends; I believe it says something about what we believe the meaning and value of our work is in light of societal expectations. Internal and external expectations about the value of our work based on the amounts of money, levels of notoriety and how we assume we contribute to the world.
When we use the word “just” in regards to our work, we tend to minimize how God is with us and working through us in different places and relationships.
Even more recently, our Flourish San Diego team has been reading a book called God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life, by Gene Edward Veith Jr. It has been a great look at vocation in all aspects of our life. Toward the end of chapter 5, Veith shares the story of people who “just do their jobs” as they save people from disasters like 9/11 and how the ordinary work of everyday people is extraordinary if we can see and hear from a God oriented perspective.
One story of ordinary work is the story of an Alaska Airlines flight attendant who spotted a young girl being trafficked and interceded on her behalf. If you haven’t seen this story, take a look here:
The flight attendant was “just doing her job” yet she saved a girl’s life. As I understand it, airlines are now training flight attendants to see and hear passengers in a specific way so they might stop additional trafficking.
To me, this sounds like the work of God’s Kingdom…to observe while you work in such a way you might intercede on behalf of others. As we reflect on our work, our daily duties, may we discover the sacredness to all of our vocations (the places and relationships God has called us to).
How might we not just hold a job or position but see and hear how we are actually doing the work of God through our daily work?