Is Love Necessary?

I was talking to Nathan yesterday as he headed off to ref five soccer games.  Reffing soccer is good money.  Depending on how many other refs are involved in the game (there can be up to three), he could easily make $100.  That’s a lot of gas and burger money for a teenager.

“I was thinking about which was worse,” Nathan started.  “Running a 3K race or reffing a soccer game.”

I wasn’t surprised that either of those choices was on his list of things I really don’t like to do.  He’s not terribly fond of running.  But he runs anyway because he loves hanging out with the high school cross country team.  And he knows it’s a good way to stay in shape.  It’s the races that are excruciatingly painful.  But that’s because he figures if he’s going to be running anyway, he might as well give it his all.

Then there’s the reffing.  It’s the long hours of standing that he doesn’t like.  He knows it’s a pretty easy job, and for the amount of money he can make in one day compared to working at a burger joint, he’s got it made.

So his comment led to a discussion about jobs vs careers.  Do we have to love the jobs we do?  I told him I didn’t love cleaning toilets but it needs to get done.  I don’t do it as my career and that makes all the difference.

“I know, I know,” he said.  “Sometimes we have to do things we don’t really like.  I would never make a career out of reffing soccer.  But it’s really good money.  Besides, my career is going to do with public speaking and I’m really looking forward to that.”

As parents, I think it’s important to encourage our kids to find the things they really love to do and help them turn it into a career.  Nathan will love his “job” when he’s older, because it’s his passion.  But I also think it’s important for our teens to experience doing things that aren’t necessarily their passion.  There’s a lot of life skills, not to mention lessons, that they can learn from those.

I told Nathan to look at all the skills he’s learning through reffing and running.  Reffing has taught him to be responsible; he needs to show up on time and in the proper attire.  It’s taught him how to deal with angry parents and coaches.  And he’s learned to trust himself and the calls he makes.

Running has taught him what it’s like to be a team member.    It’s taught him the importance of going to practice.  And it’s taught him to set goals and work to achieve them.

You don’t need to love your job.  You do need to love your career.

BTW, his answer…running, because it’s over in 19 minutes.