Contemplation about why I work as the way I do.
9 min read
It was during the third week on January 2021, when I had an opportunity to have a chat with a friend of mine that I met in Chicago. We met each other when I was working in a co-working space in Chicago where he was a CTO of a startup company. We started to talk back and forth about how we were doing as a developer (he was a developer himself as well) and had a conversation about what we had on our minds. Then came to a topic where his company was looking for a developer to join and asked me if I am interested. I was intrigued, since I was also quite interested in on the things that he and his company were working on, also saw an opportunity to learn. Plus, I really needed a mentor and he seemed to be a perfect fit for that role. However what really caught me off guard was that the possible compensation that he offered - He offered an amount where it would be stupid to decline. I was offered a compensation that was almost a double of what I was earning right now. We ended a chat with a positive note where I told him I'll give him an update on this. But of course, my heart was already shaking.
After the call, I came right back to my wife and discussed the conversation I just had with my friend. My wife also agreed that it would be a good opportunity for both financially, and career-wise, so the answer seemed obvious. But there was one thing that was on my mind which made me hesitate to take the opportunity to my friend's new company. There were few things, actually, and those were:
- the gratefulness that I felt for the current company giving me an opportunity to become a developer;
- the promise that the company made that they are going to work on a Green Card;
- the benefits that I am getting working with a great team and amazing work environment;
Now, the first one, I believe, is going to be straight up easy answers to some people since I've heard many stories as: there is no company that will take care of you when you are going south. You are the only one who needs to prepare if such thing happen in life, thus if you have a better opportunity go for it, as you are the only one who can prepare for rainy days. Don't count on the company to save you so go for the better opportunity and don't be feel bad about it. With this one I agreed - yes, work is work and company is company, and it's not non-profit organization which will have funds ready for me when I need it. Though, in thinking of repaying the debt of giving me the opportunity to become a developer, it made me uncomfortable to leave the company right now. my conscience was telling me that I should stay at least few more years (or longer).
The second one is quite big since we are dealing with something that is going to give my family huge affect. My company promised that we are going to work on a Green Card. For a note, my friend's company also suggested that his company maybe able to offer a Green Card as well, but here's an important part: I made a promise to the current company first. I believe in life, there are certain rules that I should follow which doesn't hinder the good conscience, which is not to bail out. My conscience, again, was telling me that breaking the promise of Green Card myself, is an act of bailing out with a current company, thus I might regret this action in the future - not financially or career-wise, but as a human being. I think I might feel like a traiter.
The third one is a big factor as well since I am thoroughly enjoying working with the people in my current company, plus it's remote work. Before doing remote work, I didn't realize how much more time and energy could be saved, but after actually working remotely, I realized it's amazing. Of course, I do quite miss talking and hanging out with other co-workers in the office, but all the freedom of time and work environment is quite outstanding. It's one of the things I am very satisfied about. And to leave such benfits behind for higher compensation? I was taken by surprise that I, too, didn't know I would value these things quite highly as well. Also in terms of actual work, I felt there's more room available for me to grow and sometimes see an opportunity that will make me grow and become a better developer. By just leaving that, also kind of makes me feel like I haven't put my best effort yet.
With all things considered, I didn't want to make a decision that I will regret. Should I choose the new opportunity with better financial stability and better career opportunity? Or should I choose to follow my conscience to keep the promise and pay the debt of gratefulness that I had and enjoy the benefits that I value highly? Or find a way to negotiate to raise my income higher with my current company? I had no idea. After keep thinking about this matter, I had more trouble making the decision. To be honest, as being not too far away from becoming a newlywed I realized if I can increase my income we could manage our family budget better. So taking the new opportunity or attempting to negotiate a higher wage seemed to be a wise choice, but something was stopping me, even the negotiation option felt hesitant. I contemplated, and contemplated over and over again to think what is the right thing to do? Or rather what is the wise thing to do? I prayed to God to give me guidance, but the answer that I received back was - I needed to pray, more. My wife suggested me to pray for an hour, and she told me that that will change a lot things. So I decided to pray for an hour asking for guidance. I entered a quite space where I won't be disturbed and started praying. And while praying, God showed me few things.
My wife suggested me to instead of asking God what decision I need to make, but rather ask what are the things that are making my heart unsettled right now and, what are the things that are chaining me to prevent me to experience the presence of God and pulling me away from Shalom (the peace that God gave us as a gift)? I prayed and realized the reason behind all these struggle were actually due to my innermost desires; wanting to be rich and successful. To be rich so that I can have more control and power over my life and improve the quality of my lifestyle. And successful so that I can be acknowledged by others. In other words, I wanted to be God in my life. I realized these were the foundational desires that I had in my heart which were driving me to work harder, which is the purpose of why I enjoyed working so hard. When I sacrificed my time and energy to learn all these new things I started off because I just enjoyed them. The art of programming and learning the ability to turn any ideas to real was extremely powerful and satisfying. Eventually this power showed me an opportunity that I can turn my wants and desires to be real. Do I want to be rich? I can. Do I want to be famous? I can. All the things I imagined and wanted, I realized I can make it happen, only if I put my time and energy into getting there. Thus this resulted me to feel insecure everytime when I was not working on a side project or learning a new technology. I felt as if I was wasting time and making me to lose an opportunity that is only available for me now. This vicious cycle inevitably made me feel to not appreciate what God has given us but also unsatisfied of many things in life. This now had to stop. Even before making a decision whether to take the new opportunity or not, I realized this was the most fundamental mentality that I had to shift otherwise this thirst of unfullfilling satisfaction will consume me and destory me some day.
These thoughts may sound too extreme, but I felt this was the moment where I had to make decision and change. As a christian, I was told and I knew I can't serve to Gods at once. I kept praying and God showed me where I need to set my heart to; not power, not money, not fame, but Jesus and God's Kingdom where it will be everlasting and be there eternally. I remember someone mentioning that if you are a wise investor, you need to invest your money where it can give you a better return. If the God's Kingdom and heaven is everlasting and eternal and the life we live on Earth is ephemeral, then the obvious choice would the first option, though our eyes are blind and cannot see that sometimes (well, most of the time). I kept praying and the loving and patient God gave me a heart of being wanting to seek God's Kingdom and invest in God's Kingdom, more than the temporary success, pleasure and convenience that I may experience during my short living life. I thanked God and prayed; "Lord, please maintain my heart as such where I desire God's Kingdom more than the life on the Earth. Make me desire Jesus and God's Kingdom more than anything and walk beside you till eternity."
After the prayer, I felt free. Because if my purpose of life and work is to contribute to God's Kingdom, then the rest such as money, fame, success is taken care of. I know God loves me unconditionally. He loves me regardless of whether I make progress at work, I become successful at business, make a lot of money, nor being diligent doing side hustles. Realizing this made me feel more comfortable of being just me, and all other things that I considered as a goal became just a tool to glorify God. Nothing more, nothing less. Just a tool. Money, fame, success, all just a tool. Knowing this fact placed me in more comfortable position in deciding which option that I should follow, because now it all feels secondary. Just a passageway to glorify God.