Faithful In The Little Things

August 28, 2013 by Christopher Walker

Apologies

Apologies about not writing content for your blog are cliché. Mostly because no one reads this except for maybe some stalker I have in New Zealand (arbitrary selection). So screw the apologies, I ain’t doin’ ‘em.

Next!

I will however provide an excuse, a valid one I think, for not posting as consistently as I said I was. There is quite a shift going on in both my personal and professional life right now. We are currently moving. While it’s just (sort of) up the street, the requirements for moving in Japan are ridiculous. Among the vast amounts of money it takes just to secure an apartment, there is also some a ton of paperwork involved. With all that, we are swapping out some furniture, buying some different pieces, and getting a new washing machine in the process (yay! we’ll be able to dry clothes inside!).

In the whole middle of this moving fiasco, my wife got sick with probably one of the worst things you can get sick with when you are on a time crunch especially when you have a lot of errand running to do; shingles. If you don’t know what shingles is, look it up. They are painful blisters that occur when the same virus that causes chickenpox is temporarily unsuppressed by the immune system. The virus moves directly down the nerve cell of an affected skin area causing extreme pain. Needless to say, she has not had a fun time this past week and the week before. On top of that, the item I would like to discuss today is my changing jobs (sort of).

The Biggest Change

Currently, I work for a school district in Japan that services the children of military and civilian personnel that are stationed/working over here. My position involves doing tier 1 and (sometimes) tier 2 level system administration work along with customer support (helpdesk) within a single school. The majority of my time is spent dealing with customer’s trouble tickets sometimes however, there are moments where I can work higher level projects. I was previously working at an elementary school, but starting two Mondays ago, I was moved to a middle school.

Last year, the middle school that I was recently moved to began a “1-to-1” laptop pilot program that provides each and every student with a laptop for school use. While I was at the elementary school we had about 10 laptops total and I was mostly working with standalone, stationary desktops that fluctuated between 320 to 340 machines. Since the move, I am now dealing with about 660 laptops and another 300+ desktops. While my position stays the same (horizontal promotions are crap and non-existent so we won’t call it that) the sheer number of machines I now support increased 3 times.

Why Would You Do That?

When I had heard this program was coming to our school system, I was a little excited. It’s a pretty interesting concept. It also has some serious requirements for the person in my position to fulfill. While I had wanted to jump to the middle school last year to start off with supporting this from the get-go, I had only had a year working in this particular IT department and thus was not as trusted as some of my other counterparts. A good close friend who worked with me at the elementary school did however get moved to support the program (not in a system administration role but nevertheless, moved to support the new pilot), so during the first year, I still got a lot of information about the way the process worked. As luck (or maybe a death sentence) would have it, I was called up two weeks ago and asked if I was willing to jump on the grenade and take over the program in the system administration role. I eagerly said yes. But why?

There is no such thing as a stagnant IT employee. If you work in IT and aren’t growing in your field, then you are defeating the purpose of being in information technology. IT is a fast growing field. New skills are required daily. If your career is sitting still and you are learning nothing new, congratulations, you have the skill set of swamp water; stagnant, dirty, and rotting. While I had recently been going for a plethora of certifications that could potentially expand my résumé, I still felt I had much to learn, but was not learning. I had been at the elementary school for about 2 years and a lot of the work had become routine. I knew the machines by heart. I could tell you the ins and outs of each machine. I knew who used each individual machine, I knew where to always find them, I knew their quirks or their strengths, and I had already manipulated my site to do exactly what I wanted, the way I had wanted. I had built my empire. I was sitting around, fixing routine things, and decimating bigger problems as they came along. Suffice it to say, I was bored with the work. While I absolutely enjoyed the people I worked with, and I will always cherish the time I worked for that school, it was time to go. There probably wasn’t an employer on the entire island of Okinawa that did not have my résumé.

Along with this, I’d like to mention that while I felt I wanted something new, I will always love my comfort zone. Nobody wants to start completely over from scratch, I will always look for employment in the relative field of computers (except cybersecurity; cybersecurity is a niche market with limited options and probably the biggest goat rope degree a diploma mill university can sell).

Why This Is Perfect?

Moving to the middle school is the perfect combination of change and comfort zone. I still stay in the same position. My title doesn’t change. I still report to and get paid by the same people. I still work with the same set of tools. Most importantly, I still get to stay in Japan, which, while I have my issues sometimes with living here, for the most part it’s awesome. While all those things don’t differ, the sheer volume of work does. I’m definitely not bored anymore. I get to work with a new set of people. I get to restructure the school to how I see fit. I get to clean up a mess (because it’s a mess). Most importantly (one for future bragging rights), if I succeed, I get to say I was entrusted to handle 1000 machines and was successful at doing it.

The Biggest Point

This brings me to my biggest (and closing) point. I have 2 other siblings and whilst we were growing up, we were each given a set of chores to do. Most of the time, they were according to age and ability. For example, as my older sibling became able, he was given the chore of mowing the lawn. As my sister came to that age of responsibilty, the chore was then transferred to her (and then quickly given back to my brother when my parents realized she was allergic to freshly cut grass). Being the youngest, I was usually given the small, easily accomplishable tasks. The most common one off the top of my head was feeding the dog.

Sometimes, in my youthfulness and desire to play, I would forget to do my chore, meaning either my mother, father, or sibling would do it. This happened several times (absentminded and selectively deaf from a very early age) and it usually became an issue, especially when it fell upon a sibling. When the time came and I was the same age to be responsible to mow the lawn, I had asked to do it. I wanted to do it. There was a pull to mow the lawn as it was almost like a rite of passage. A milestone in your ability to help the household. But the time came and the time passed, and yet the chore was not transferred to me.

I consulted my father as to why I was still not allowed to begin mowing the lawn and in that moment he imparted the greatest wisdom I have ever received in my entire life. While I can’t recall the full conversation, he noted that I had sometimes failed in my duties for other chores. He noted that I couldn’t be trusted with the little things. And if I wasn’t to be trusted in the little things, surely I shouldn’t be entrusted with the bigger things (we had about an acre of land).

He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. -Luke 16:10

I took this to heart and I have kept it in the back of my mind ever since he spoke it to me that day. Everytime an opportunity arises where I can do something little yet be of great help, I try to do it. Granted this isn’t to say I am some sort of saint. I falter sometimes. A majority of the time I am the one needing the help, but for the most part I try and do what I can; be faithful in those little things.

I felt I was faithful in the little things at my elementary school. Yes, sometimes I strayed out of the direct and immediate requirements of my job, but I was faithful in the little things that I knew I could be of help with. I covered the small aspects and what do you know, the bigger things became easier and fell right into place.

Moving to the middle school means it is now time to move on to the bigger things and as I transition into the new settings, I will begin to search for those little things. Little things count. If you are too afraid, too nervous, too lazy, or too proud to take care of the little things, then what is the use in the big things?

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