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  • Deanna Kohlhofer

What Do You Do?

What do you do? Have you been asked that question? I dread it. The stubborn part of me does not enjoy being defined by my job and the part of me that is kind of, sort of ashamed does not like to report I am a glorified secretary. Now please do not read into that. I love being a secretary and being a secretary is not bad. But the prideful part of me wants to tell you I did not go to school to be a secretary and there are many days I feel like the job I do is so easy my eleven-year-old could do it.

The other side of the coin says I know without a doubt I am where I am for a reason. And although I may not be using the skills I learned in school or tapping into the passions that jazz me up, I am making a difference. I can say that confidently because my amazing co-workers tell me, but also because I know that my work is a way to serve.

You see, I enter data all day long. I look at a student’s transcript and enter it into our system, and as I do, I can guess some things about the student. I can see if they have been school hopping. I can tell when they struggle in particular subjects – or school as a whole. I can pinpoint a timeframe when life changed. And as I see these things, I can pray. I never meet these kiddos. I don’t know if my thoughts are remotely close to their reality. But still, I pray for them because even if I am wrong, God knows their needs.

If I see a student who has been in several different schools, I pray they find their home with us. If I see a student struggles with academics, I pray our teachers will be patient. If I see a student has struggled with mental health or bullying or any number of issues that arise in schools, I pray for the counselor to see what I see and intervene. I pray for students to find community. I pray for teachers to be champions. I pray for advocates to develop meaningful relationships. My prayers are fervent for these kids and as I click the button to load their grades, I pass them on to their incredible team who I know will serve them well.

My job truly is the best job. I work from home (seriously, this is my favorite perk) and I enter valuable information the counselors and teachers use to support students. That in and of itself is probably important. But what is more important to me is the time I get to intercede on behalf of thousands of students each year. I get to pray for the friendships they will form and the experiences they will have while at our school. And after I click submit, I trust that the team in the trenches set about their work covered in prayer right along with the student.

I believe God calls us to be the very best employees, no matter what our job title is. I work hard to do my job well. I take great care in getting tasks done quickly and accurately. Nothing I do is difficult. I could easily rush through to check things off my list and collect my paycheck at the end of the week. But I believe God places us in positions for specific reasons. Sometimes we just need to open our eyes.

You may be “just a nurse” who is comforting someone in the scariest moment of their life.

You may be “just a teacher” who is imparting valuable wisdom way beyond book knowledge.

You may be “just a waitress” who is making lonely people smile.

You may be “just a bus driver” who is helping others see the beauty in a day.

Whatever your title is, I would encourage you to look beyond it a bit. What are the special touches you can provide to the people you encounter in order to make their experience nothing short of amazing? Maybe you pray like I do. Or perhaps you commit to telling jokes or just flashing big smiles. Little things make a big difference. Let me give you an example.

Anyone who knows me knows I hate the grocery store. It is just one of those chores I do with dread. When I get to the cashier, I know I am in the home stretch for another week. Most will simply do their job. They scan my groceries, place them in the bag, ask me if I have coupons, and take my money. I can’t complain – other than the way they bag my groceries, but they cannot be held responsible for my own OCD. There is one cashier at my local grocery store who stands out, Pam. I will scan the registers for her before I checkout. When she is working, I will get in her line even if it is long. You see, the wait is worth it because Pam makes handing over a whole bunch of money a tiny bit easier. She looks at my groceries and asks me questions. One day she asked if I liked the protein I was buying, and we laughed because it was for my husband and not me. It led to a conversation about weightlifting and gyms. Another day she asked about what I was going to make with a group of ingredients she just scanned. That led to a conversation about simple recipes she enjoys. Once she saw the sale on bananas (as if she had no idea) and told me she needed to buy some so she could make baby food for her grandbaby. Just take your time, Pam, I have a lot to say about grandbabies. Sure, Pam could go to work everyday and assume she is just a cashier. But to me, she is someone who eases the anxiety of the grocery store. She makes a difference in my life, and I certainly cannot say for sure, but I can guess she makes a difference for others as well. She does her job, just like all the other cashiers, but she takes it one step further and makes the experience personal.

I am not winning any awards for data entry. And Pam probably isn’t winning awards for talking to the people in her grocery line. Those things are not the motivation for working hard. Sure, it is nice to be recognized here and there. But to be honest, that is fun for about ten seconds. When the eleventh second comes, it is back to the grind chasing the next thing we think will prove our worth. But friends, our worth doesn’t come from a job title, a degree, or a paycheck.

How do you answer the question, “What do you do?”

Before you are tempted to state your title, would you be willing to dig a little deeper? Maybe you aren’t using your degree. Maybe you aren’t doing that thing you thought you would love. Maybe you aren’t working where you imagined one day you would. But, take heart. Do your job well. And know you are exactly where God wants you to be. The next time someone asks you what you do, take a minute to think about your answer. You may be “just a secretary” but your influence can be much greater than you imagine.

Working alongside you,