For most of my working life I've held only part-time jobs--by choice. The few times I took on full-time employment, my limited spare time was taken up by the mundane chores that keep a house and home running. There was no time left to care about anything other than our own immediate needs, and no energy left to invest in other people.
That situation does not sit well with me, so I've purposefully chosen to limit the number of hours I spend each week earning an income. I will admit, it's a tough choice. With the extra money I would have earned working full time over the past 17 years, we could have bought a fancy home, rather than a renovator's delight; we could be driving new cars, not old; shopping at designer stores instead of op-shops; and holidaying in Europe, not Echuca.
However, by making a conscious decision to prioritise my time and talents I have been blessed many times over. Even more exciting than the personal rewards is when the blessing bounces outward to others.
Three years ago, I was employed only three days a week on a basic wage. My husband and I had some extra expenses and future ministry plans that needed serious savings, so I started looking for a second part-time job to supplement my income. This decision did not come easily. I was concerned that my effort to earn extra money would limit the energy, time and desire to nurture relationships with those around me.
During the time I was looking for a second job, the community centre operated by my local church was looking for a part-time office worker. It was not as many hours as I wanted and much less pay than I needed. But I really felt called to be part of the team at "The Crossing."
I attended an interview and it seemed my previous administrative experience more than adequately equipped me for the role. When the interviewer made a point of telling me I would need to dress down a lot if I were to work there--"you need to be relatable," she said; "this is a low socioeconomic area and most people would buy their clothes at op-shops"--I had to laugh. Ninety per cent of my wardrobe comes from op-shops.
Feeling impressed this was where God wanted me, I was excited, but stressed. If I took this job it meant the financial goals we'd set would not be achieved. I was offered the job at "The Crossing" and I asked for 24 hours to think about it.
"OK, God," I challenged, "You've called me to serve the community in this role, but You've also placed on our hearts some other ministry goals that require more income than this job pays. This is in Your hands now."
The next day, my boss at the first job called me into his office and announced I was being promoted. I would still be employed only three days a week but I would be earning more money. In fact, the raise was more than I would have earned in the two days at "The Crossing."
So the blessing bounced. I was able to call "The Crossing" director and say, "I accept the position--and I will do the work as a volunteer." They were overwhelmed. The savings they made by not having to pay me, allowed them to achieve other community outreach goals.
This was a definite case of bounced blessings. My decision to limit paid work hours so I'd have the time and energy to minister to those around me was rewarded. I received the extra income we needed and "The Crossing" received a staff member two days per week at no cost. My administrative and communication talents helped the centre and affiliated church improve their level of service both to the external community and the internal one. To top it all off, key relationships were built and nurtured that have proved invaluable as the church community moved through some challenging structural and leadership changes.
God is willing to work in and through us to achieve His purposes. But it's not until we let go and let God that we get to see and be part of it. The harvesters are paid good wages, and the fruit they harvest is people brought to eternal life. What joy awaits both the planter and the harvester alike! John 4:36.
–Kellie Hancock worked as an editor at Signs Publishing Company in Warburton, Victoria, at the time of writing. She lives in Wantirna, a suburb of Melbourne, Victoria.