Hopefully, this circumstance isn’t too obvious in your life compared to how relatively new it is for me. Let me tell you about a certain mental struggle of mine.
From 2003 until 2014, I only had salaried jobs. Four years of that were through a Naval ROTC scholarship. The following seven were active duty Navy service. So when I left the Navy to pursue seminary full-time and took on a “normal” job at a major transportation company, I’ve had to deal mentally and spiritually with a financial circumstance I had not experienced in the previous eleven years: being paid by the hour.
There was a bit of a transition period. For a time, I had the benefit of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which paid a monthly living stipend in addition to the hourly work I did on the night shift. In the twilight of my seminary studies late last year, I fractured a bone in my right hand at work, which put me on workman compensation for a time.
Finally, in April of this year, my medical recovery from the injury had progressed far enough so that I could work in my normal trade. By July, I had moved up into full CDL driving rather than just moving trailers around the company yard. The vast majority of us, including me, are paid by the hour, not by the mile.
I’m not asking you to feel sorry for me. My hourly pay rate is quite sufficient; the Lord be praised! What I do want to communicate is how this has engendered a certain mental state of calculating exactly how much my time at work is worth.
At the most basic level, being paid by the hour enables one to calculate with reasonable precision at any point in the workday how much money has been earned. This doesn’t even require a calculator. When the end of the workday nears, my mind is prone not only to calculate how much money has been made but also how much money I could potentially make if I ask to stay longer and perform extra work.
Worse, the mind may couch this in terms of how much money I am “losing” by not asking for extra work. I might ask myself this question at the end of my workday. Worse yet, I may couch this question in terms of going in on a day I would usually have off. “How much money am I losing by not working today?” Any time off that we don’t use is “sold” for its monetary value near the end of the year.
Then at its worst, it may engender a certain attitude of victimhood. Suppose someone else makes a poor decision that shortens my work day. Suddenly, what should be taken as the blessing of getting home early to see the wife and children is couched in terms of “Somebody’s stealing my money!” Sure, that might actually be the case, but God calls my response to be something above a cry of injustice.
But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.
But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
~1 Timothy 6:9–12 (ESV)
As believers, we not only have the sure hope of eternal life which has already begun and will come to its full culmination in the future. We also have the sure hope now that God will take care of us.
My particular struggle might not be yours as well, but do think about where you struggle and when a soul cry of “injustice!” isn’t the right answer.