Purpose and the Apparel Industry

I was fortunate to be able to work for my brother, Jim, for a couple of years in the apparel industry. I loved working with him and to this day, find him to be one of the smartest business guys I know. He’s also just a really great brother.

He was quite successful in the apparel business managing large brands like Ocean Pacific (Op). He knew when to be tough and when to give. I not only I loved working with him but also I loved earning big sales commission checks. That was my big driver at the time – money.

However, a bigger realization for me was that I really disliked the apparel industry. I thought it was the most vain, meaningless and shallow industry on earth. It held no real meaning for me other than commissions.

“Hi Mr. Buyer, we’ve got the new cool gray toned shorts this year, with single pleats in a cross-cut corduroy fabric, just like they have in Europe. They’re simply stunning. How many do you want?”

Pretty uninspiring. Not solving world hunger or anything of meaning, so I thought. Food is probably just as uninspiring, yet the legendary founder of Chick-fil-A, Truett Cathy, said “Food is essential to life, therefore make it good.”

Okay, maybe there is something important about making good food and good clothing.

I was not walking close to the Lord at the time I worked for my brother so my perspective on life and work were mostly around what they could do for me. Yet, even then, deep down, I wanted to do “something meaningful”, perhaps like some of you.

As I have grown closer to the Lord I have come to realize something important about work. Work is about doing things with excellence – yes – as “unto the Lord” and it’s also about people.

Now that I see that work is about how I can serve and care for others, I find tremendous meaning in my work. And my job is pretty regular….I’m a consultant and trainer to Cities and Counties.  But similar to other organizations, governments are made of people.

I love the people I work with. I invest in them. I extend trust to them. I listen to their issues. I ask about their families and their sick grandchildren. I pray for them. When appropriate, I pray with people and invite them to church and provide whatever help I can.

I’m learning that my job has meaning when I consider the needs of those around me.   When it’s all about me and what I get, the job seems to lose meaning.  Work is now more about how well I love and care for others and extend the love of God to them.  To make that work, I have to first be filled with His love, then I can give my best to others.

If you’re in a job you don’t like, be patient and trust that God has you there for a reason and continue to love and serve others.

Colossians 3:23 sums it up pretty well:

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters”.

I pray that as you think about having meaning in your work that you will consider that doing your job with excellence and loving and caring for those around you has tremendous meaning….and can impact lives forever.

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