Navigating faith, love, and life in the Netherlands

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Job Prospects and Productivity (part 1)

Do I have a job?

In times that I've talked to people back in America (and also with people here), they have asked me as part of the conversation, "What do you do for work?  Do you want to find a job?" or other similar questions.  You've probably faced them when catching up with people or generally making small talk.

The current answer is that I am a full-time seminary graduate student, so I really don't have much time for a job.  Reading books and writing papers IS my job, unfortunately usually all from home, by myself.  The idea is that once I finish my degree (in May), I'll look for a job teaching in an international or bilingual school.  My job application process has already begun, and I will also do some substitute teaching on the side this spring.


The summer 2013 edition of The XPat Journal focuses on health care in the Netherlands.

Gregory Shapiro (page 22-23) satirizes the use of the prescription "Go home and get some rest" as heard from the mouths of Dutch doctors.  That's all they ever say, and won't give you prescriptions (especially for antibiotics) all the time.

He writes, "The frustrating thing for an American is this: the advice is absolutely correct.  For me, staying home from work and healing myself has worked every time.  But as an American, I still feel compelled to stay on the job, pump myself full of antibiotics and keep on working."  He then mentions the generous allowance of sick days by Dutch employers.

Seems like this is saying that Americans are workaholics when compared to the Dutch.  Americans, it seems, would rather continue to be productive as long as possible.  There are so many ideas to unpack here -- medical, psychological, and social.


I have often heard someone close to me complain of how another twentysomething has never worked. She complains that this person needs to go out and get a job and even get a driver's license!  This shows the idea that people MUST work.

In addition, many people dislike stay at home moms, complaining that they don't work, and (I assume) contribute to society.  The fact is that staying at home with kids IS work that can't be quantified on a resume or CV.  It would be better to invest in the lives of your children when they are young rather than try to pick up the pieces decades later.  But that's another issue.

What role does work, or a certain job, play in our identity?

I'm trained as a teacher, I spent 3 years teaching, and that's what I want to continue to do in some form.  But something that I've been wondering lately is how that comes into play when I'm in another culture.  I know I'm not an expert teacher (yet?), but I think I am qualified enough to give it a try.  This could be for teaching in a public school or perhaps for teaching through the Church.

In contrast...

I would like to say that work is not the primary way to identify ourselves.

Work is not what gives us value as human beings.

You are not your work.  You are not your unemployment.

There is more to life than work.

God does not love you less because you are unemployed.

God does not love you more because you have work.

Jesus did not die for you because of your employment status.

Jesus died for you because of His love for God's creation.

Jesus died for you and rose again so we can have a relationship with God.

The Holy Spirit will enable us to love and serve God and others no matter our employment.


Thoughts? Leave a comment!


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Part two can be found here.

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