"We've found a job for you," said the voice calling from the college work-study office.
"That's great," I replied. "Where do I go and when do I start?"
"You have an aide position at the in-patient mental health facility. This building has three floors. One floor is the men's dorm, one floor is the women's dorm and the lower floor is the day room. Please report to the administrative building at 8 a.m. on Monday. Congratulations!"
In 1967 this ward was created to provide a family-like atmosphere by placing less seriously ill, multigenerational men and women into one building.
When I arrived I was given initial instructions, to which I listened carefully, since I didn't want to mess up my first "real" summer job as a college student. I was assigned varying shifts. During the early shift, I was to wake the women and assist as needed, in getting them to breakfast. During the late shift I was to encourage everyone to participate in some activity after dinner and then assist patients to bed.
Other tasks might send me to the dispensary to pick up medications or deliver papers to other parts of the hospital. I might accompany patients to various treatments within the facility or take them to get a needed clothing item at our store. I might be asked to assist reluctant women in proper bathing. In addition, the hospital had equipment for playing pool and ping pong. Music activities were planned some days and outdoor excursions on others. We played table games, shuffle board, softball and horseshoes.
Reflections, a mini-sermon written by Minot and area clergy, will appear each Saturday in The Minot Daily News. Clergy interested in writing a mini-sermon should contact Religion Editor Loretta Johnson at 857-1952 or Debbie Sandvold at 857-1950. The toll-free number is 1-800-735-3229.
Finally, I was told that if I had no specific task I was to be a "link" to the "outside world" by being in the dayroom interacting with the patients. As an introvert in this kind of environment for the first time, I almost quit the job at that point! However, I needed the money and I believed quitting was unacceptable, so I walked into the day room and gave it a try. In spite of my anxiety, it turned out to be a wonderful job with friendly interactions with the patients and other employees.
In this position I arrived on time, worked to the best of my ability, asked questions when I was unsure of my assignment and learned about patient needs during staff meetings. Of course, I did make some mistakes and was instructed in how to avoid them in the future.
How do you think things would have gone if I hadn't shown up for work or paid attention to my instructions? What if I refused to connect with the patients and never interacted with fellow employees? I'm sure my boss would have asked whether I was interested in the position or not. He may have even wondered why I applied if I wasn't going to take the position seriously.
I believe this is part of what is meant by the verse that says "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven," Matthew 7:21
When I got the position, it was up to me to learn the will of my employer. I needed to demonstrate my interest in the position and patients by becoming the best employee I could. Salvation through Jesus is a position offered to everyone, but, according to the above verse, we are supposed to learn what the will of our "employer" is. Let's remember the position we are offered and take it seriously by listening to instruction, studying the employees' manual and interacting with the boss and other employees. "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth," 2 Timothy 2:15.
Helen McCormack writes the Reflections column every six weeks. She and her husband, David, are serving with Wycliffe Bible Translators.