Be Careful What You Pray For

The time of my retirement from my day job draws closer. As of this morning it’s 1 year, 1 month, and 17 days away. I’m not sure how vacation will play into that. I might actually have my last day a bit earlier.

My problem is, I’ve been having a bad case of senioritis. Yes, many school students get that both at the high school and college level. As the end draws near you no longer care about doing your work, and you slack off.

That’s how I’ve felt at work of late. My position as corporate trainer is one that requires me to be a self-starter. I have to make work for myself: figure out classes to teach; look for classes for others; have the gumption to work on our standard notes, details, and specifications. I’ve found that harder to do lately. It’s so tempting to sit at my desk and just wait for people to come to me with problems. As I am the senior engineer in the company, that happens a lot. People come to me with a design problem they can’t figure out, or a construction problem they’ve not encountered before. It’s quite fulfilling for me, actually, to help the youngin’s through these.

But all that won’t even fill an hour in a day. My work for the City of Centerton is little more than that, though it comes in spurts. Of course, I’m in the process of turning that over to another engineer, and soon she will be taking lead in our work there. That will end my 17 years as city engineer, or substitute city engineer, for that small, nearby city.

So, due to this growing senioritis, and knowing I couldn’t just sit there at my desk and draw a salary. It wouldn’t be right to work on my books during the work day, other than normal break time. I was starting to grow dissatisfied with the work and especially with my performance.

So I made it a matter of personal prayer. I asked God to help me shake off the growing lethargy, and do a good job for my employer. I began to look at the job with a little more concern. I sensed my prayer was being answered.

Then came last Monday. By 8:30 a.m. my boss, the CEO, was in my office. He said he had an urgent situation he needed me to work on. We were having problems with a certain client. The project manager over that work was overloaded, and they needed to reassign some projects to others. He wanted me to take over that client, solve problems on three already constructed projects that can’t seem to get closed out, bird dog two other projects about to go to construction, and see what could be done to improve the engineer-client relationship.

Now, I haven’t actively managed projects in over ten years. I happened to be entering two weeks with some special events in them, or with personal things scheduled (annual physical; eye exam; etc.). The timing wasn’t great, but I was glad for the challenge and the work, even if it would become all-encompassing to me.

The week was full of coming up to speed. I first tackled a project in Ohio with failing pavement. This project seemed to have the most correspondence of late. Then I shifted to a project in the St. Louis area that has a failing environmental pond, and may also have an improperly designed and constructed retaining wall. The third project is in Minnesota. I haven’t had time to even look at it yet. Hopefully I will today, with the other two somewhat in hand and waiting on outside data.

For the St. Louis project, it will likely require me to go there to observe some remedial investigations of the retaining wall. I spoke with a retaining wall expert on Friday, and he hopes to be authorized to do some drilling behind the wall. If so, it will be on a weekend, since the facility is open for business on weekdays.

About three days into this new adventure, I remembered that I’d prayed about my senioritis situation. Now, I was asking God to help me be more faithful in my self-starter work, not to load me up with new work, urgently needed. But that’s exactly what He did. I suspect He’s laughing at the situation. “Oh, so you’re worried you’re not working hard enough, that you’re having troubling getting motivated? I can fix that real easy.”

He sure did. I came home each day this week exhausted and mostly brain dead—but truly fulfilled, knowing I was working hard and making a difference.

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