What motivates us to do what we do? An example from business would be, why are we in business? Is it to maximize profit, or maximize social benefit? Traditionally that has been the difference between for-profit endeavors and not-for-profit endeavors. Or is the motivation something else? Is it to provide a service?
Padelford in his book, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Business Ethics, makes a very interesting statement about what he calls the economic man. “The caricature of economic man, a person who pursues maximum profit or wages or money returns in every situation, pushes ethical considerations into the background in modern economic studies. Efficient and increasing production seems to be the primary focus. However, physical provision, no matter how great does not necessarily bring friendship with other people nor union with God.”
The question of motivation has been rattling around in my mind since Friday. What is my motivation to be an educator? Do I want to be recognized as Rabbi as I walk down the street, or is it the pay, or is there some other reason for choosing this type of vocation? Right off the top I can tell you that it is not the pay. Our school has worked hard at raising faculty pay to a level of competitiveness with other schools in the area, but compared to my previous salary, not even close. So what is it then?
Often we look at work as a drudgery. As Christians we look back to the fall and see toil as the curse of God due to our disobedience. We fail to look at the original commandment from God before the fall. Padelford makes this statement, “The instruction to dress and keep the garden is given to Adam in chapter 2 of Genesis, so that work itself is not a punishment for disobedience, but an opportunity to be co-regent or co-creator with God.” He is careful about what this co-creation means, and by his definition I see the term innovation.
Redemption restores our ability to have this relationship. We can co-create, be creative, with God and produce new and innovative processes or services. As an educator I have come to realize that this is the motivation for what I do.
I’ve recently adjusted my life’s motto. It is now “humility, service, and professional will.” If I lose my job for any reason it will not stop the call that God has placed on my life to be humble, serve, and have the will to complete what I been given to do.
Humility to me as an educator means I recognize that I don’t know everything. It also means that I recognize my students are creative and want to express that creativity. Service means that I am there to serve my administrators, peers, and students to the fullest extent. This means that no matter how redundant the information is that I am trying get across to my students, I will do my best to make it interesting to them. If I can’t do that then I need to become a professional golfer. Professional will involves walking with integrity, and mirroring this to my students.
Ultimately my reason for being an educator is to make a difference. It is to co-create meaning for students that they can grasp and internalize, resulting with them going into the real world to make a difference. I’d say that is a pretty exciting vocation. I need to get to it.
And that is my thought for the day!