Making the Assignment Yours


August 9, 2023

A pastor once told me that a key to building commitment in a church body was through member engagement. How was that done?


Everyone needed a job.


Those of us who’ve attended church or a place of worship have seen that initiative in action. There is the person who prepares and then guards the coffee pot. There are those who light candles. Others hand out bulletins, the order of worship. In large enough congregations there is often a kitchen. Those with oversight there invariably have plates, utensils, spices, and other condiments meticulously arranged.


If you observe these command posts closely enough you soon discover that a brand or reputation develops and often others experience a sense of almost loss or anxiety on those days when there’s an absence. “Mike’s not here, who’s in charge of the coffee?” “Who’s staffing the nursery with Louise on vacation?” “I can tell that Lesley has missed a few Sundays, the hymnals were not stacked right.”


Those lacking an assigned function will often soon fade into the obscurity of the church body, or worse, switch churches or even worse than that, cease any worship experience. The comments will range from “I didn’t know anyone,” to “it became inconvenient,” which really means “I didn’t have a place.”


The experiences in our secular environments can often be not too unlike those in religious domains. With so many individuals now working remotely the absence of belonging is even further magnified.


In career coaching, one of my oft-given early assignments for a client is to craft their ideal job description. In other words, in a perfect world, and given the essential functions required in your current job or desired one, what do you want to be doing? What duties can you check off between the desired role and the one you now have?


Seattle’s Pike Place Market is a menagerie of shops and restaurants, including some interesting establishments offering the freshest of produce, meats, and seafood. Working in the fish market is labor intensive in addition to being cold, slimy, and smelly. It could be in the running for Mike Rowe’s “Dirty Jobs.”


Those chosen for such an assignment have rebranded the endeavor into a performance. Now, visitors to Seattle make a special effort to observe the fish drama unfolding.


Besides what takes place on the field, ballparks are legendary for shenanigans off the field. From Kiss Cams to Dance Offs, “all kinds” frequently come out of the woodwork.


In Milwaukee the peanut vendor often makes an impromptu audition for America’s Got Talent, while in Baltimore the beer man pours not only frosty ones but does so in a manner that entertains Oriole fans.


Former employees have shared favorable comments:


“Great store, good fish, friendly service. Great local people.”


“This was an outstanding experience of my life. They taught me to be impeccable and patient in the real world of customer service. I never understood customer service as well as I do now because of these people.”


Those who transport others for a living not only are relied upon for safe delivery of precious cargo, but to execute that responsibility with caring and courtesy. That includes passengers who may not be the most amicable or well-behaved.


Ray St. Ray is a Chicago institution. Not only has he successfully driven now over 100,000 passengers to their intended destinations, but he has done so with much aplomb, cadence, and rhythm. You see, “the singing cab driver” considers his life a musical, living the kind of existence that he would want to read about, his life being a musical in and of itself. Each song is an original, orchestrated in between passenger pickups.

How much fun are you having during the 40 or more hours spent each week at your task? How can it be livened up and made more interesting and engaging for those relying on you? How do you reinvent and brand your work so that the “what you do” subordinates to “who you are?” Life is far too short to not allow work and play to coalesce, my friends.


The Seed Sower