Monday, January 23, 2006

Satisfaction guaranteed?

Dr. Phil Douglass, who I work with in various capacities (see #2 and #3) and whose teaching at Covenant Seminary I deeply valued, makes a bold claim regarding calling and work: he claims that you should spend at least 60% of your time within your area of primary calling and 40% or less in other areas-- otherwise you will burn out. He calls this the "60/40 principle."

He further asserts that there should be a growing increase in the ratio on the calling side. Over time, you should strive for much more than 60%, and eventually settle in at somewhere in the 80% range on average.

Last fall I was discussing seminary jobs with a classmate-- that is, the jobs that we hold to put ourselves through seminary. This particular friend has simply hated the job he held, although he is quite good at it. At one point in our conversation, he remarked, "right now I'd just be happy to be at 40/60!!!"

At times my friend has had to make changes in his job circumstances because he found he was burning out. He was living the 60/40 principle. I think this principle is a vital part of the picture when it comes to placement: if you're not certain you're going to be well within 60% or better, you should seriously question whether that placement is for you.

As I reflected on my friend's comments later, I thought of the work I was doing this fall for the school where I teach and work. What would my ratio be? I wondered. Upon consideration,
I decided that I would have to rank it somewhere around 90/10!

Now, I have no illusions that the job will remain at that level for the long-term, but even if it dropped off by, say, 10%, that would still leave me at a place that Dr. Douglass encourages students to aspire to over the lifetime of their ministry.

That's cause for careful scrutiny: dare I expect more from someplace else? Shouldn't I remain here until that ratio changes substantially?

When it comes to job satisfaction, it seems like a satisfaction guarantee.

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