Wednesday, September 14, 2005

As I write this I am on the first flight from Los Angeles to Oakland for a day of meetings, bleary-eyed after a long night of driving and just a few hours' sleep.

When I consider the question, I admit yes-my work is meaningful and makes an important contribution to society. I help to foster the growth of renewable energy, which is increasingly the obvious alternative to a clearly destabilizing fossil fuel market. We are truly feeling the pinch, as I paid more than $3/gallon for gas on my most recent trip to Arizona. Just a few years ago, on my last real family vacation, I was shocked when one gas station (at Chiriaco Summit, always the most expensive) was pushing $2/gallon when most other stations were around $1.60. That was in my old Suburban 4x4, which now languishes at the back of my house. It took $50 to fill up back then. That would be more like $80-$90 these days.

Most days however I don't feel much passion about this work. The fact remains that there are plenty of companies competing to do what I'm doing, and would be happy to take my business from me. Many are more successful at it than we are, some wildly so. So what good am I really doing here?

This is when the refrain of Ecclesiastes is helpful: "Folly, folly..." Through this toil and trouble, it is increasingly clear to me that my impact can only be measured by the individual people whose lives I touch, starting with those closest to me. What I collect a paycheck for is not as important. Giving love and being Jesus in peoples' lives (and yes, how very imperfectly) is what really matters. Making that service part of everything I do on my job is what infuses my work with meaning that will last beyond the inevitable wasting of this world when its creator replaces it with the next one.

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