By: Jim Mathis
If as they say, “variety is the spice of life,” you might describe my life as fairly “spicy.” One recent weekend was a good example: Saturday afternoon I photographed members of a law firm. From there I went to the local convention center to photograph exhibits I had helped to design.
Upon arriving home, I packed my instruments and equipment and left to play with my band, Sky Blue, at a popular coffee shop.
The next morning, my church was celebrating its 50th year anniversary. I sang in the choir and took photos. Then I went to a musical “jam session” presented by the Heartland Steel Guitar Association, of which I am a founding member and officer. That evening my wife and I went to a concert at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, where we work as volunteers.
Not long ago a friend asked my advice in finding a better job. Frankly, I did not think I could help him much because I have never looked for a job and would not know how to go about finding one. This is because I have always done what I wanted to do, operating on the principle that if you are good enough at anything, somebody will pay you to do it. If not, you can do it just because you enjoy it.
Currently I earn a living doing photography. As I see it, if I am not making enough money, it is either because my pictures are not good enough or I am not showing them to enough people. That is why I spend much of my time learning to be a better photographer and showing people some my photos.
I also earn money playing music and selling books I have written. In both cases, to do better vocationally, I have to be better. I have to learn to play better, write better songs, and learn to become a better writer.
Luke 16:10-12 gives a basic principle for business: “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?”
In other words, if you do the best with what you have, you will have the opportunity to do more.
I experienced a practical illustration of this principle years ago. I wanted a nice car, but could not afford one, so I bought what I could afford.
Instead of treating it poorly, I cared for it as if it were a great car. I washed and waxed it every weekend, bought a book on auto detailing, and did all I could to enhance its appearance. One day a car dealer stopped me, stating he had seen me driving the car around town and wanted to know if he could buy it. I agreed to sell it, and with my profit, bought the kind of “nice car” I had always wanted. Treating my old car well had paid off, enabling me to get a better car.
This principle – being trustworthy with whatever you have, so you can prove yourself trustworthy to take on more responsibility – is true in virtually every area of life.
So my advice to my friend that was looking for a better job was simple: If I wanted a better job, I would do a better job. That is all I know how to do.
Jim Mathis is the owner of a photography studio in Overland Park, Kansas, specializing in executive, commercial and theatrical portraits, and operates a school of photography. Jim is the author of High Performance Cameras for Ordinary People, a book on digital photography. He formerly was a coffee shop manager and executive director of CBMC in Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri.