Why do I work? Am I having an impact? Is my work worth something? These are questions we all ask ourselves at some point in our lives. We want to know we are working towards something more than just a way to earn a living. That our work has some greater value. When I took a position in Jordan with IDEAS, I had no idea how important these questions would become.
During my time here in Jordan, I have leveraged my engineering skills to provide technical expertise and development for a farming project that provides fresh produce to about 70,000 Syrian refugees. A local friend recently asked me why I would give up the opportunity to make more money working back home. I answered that I believe God calls us to serve other people with our gifts and vocation, meeting needs and providing hope to those without hope.
My friend later shared how he is questioning the purpose of his work. He was questioning his impact. He was wondering what his legacy would be. Big questions! These questions quickly moved into more questions about the purpose of life, the source of our identity and purpose, and how our work will be measured. I was blown away that work would be the door God would use to trigger such open and honest dialogue.
Here are 5 key points I’ve learned from my time here in Jordan on the role and purpose of work in our communities:
- My work is vital to building trust with my host community. One of the most common questions I hear in Jordan is, “What are you doing here?” The capacity to give a straightforward and honest answer to this question opens an immediate door of trust.
- My work leads to questions. Good questions. Questions about what motivated me to choose the work of restoring hope. Questions about my impact. Questions about purpose and life. These questions provide one of the biggest opportunities to share the hope that motivates me to do what I do and in the most natural way.
- My work is an invitation. An invitation for others to think about how they might also consider the bigger picture and serve their community or another community. An invitation to think about their own work and its purpose. An invitation for partnership. I have seen this by inviting local people to come and see what we are doing and learn from our project.
- My work has an unmeasurable footprint. I can give metrics about the number of families who receive vegetables from us, but I cannot measure the hope it provides, the doors it opens for conversations about a greater hope, the role it plays in my relationships here, and the ways it is changing me. The footprint of my work will expand for years in unexpected ways.
- My work is an answer to the question of purpose. I have great sense of personal peace and zeal for my work as I see firsthand the effect of my work in providing hope for others. My work is also an opportunity to answer questions regarding the purpose of work to those with whom I interact.
So why do I work with IDEAS? I work because I get to watch my work bless those who are without hope. I work because I get to share with joy about why I came to Jordan to leverage my skills. I work because I get to challenge and engage with people here about the purpose of work and the purpose of life. I work because I am a clear testimony of God’s purpose to give hope to the hopeless and to serve the least of these.
About the Author: Tanner grew up in Panama and is a hydroponics engineer working with an agricultural team in Jordan to help build their hydroponics system. Click here to read more about how IDEAS Associates are working to restore hope worldwide.