I have to admit – I love Legos. I have always been more interested in putting the sets together than playing with them. When my kids were younger, I would help them build their Imaginex and Lego sets and then turn them loose on the worlds we created. In many ways, watching them enjoy the products was the highlight of these interactions.
Recently, I received a gift I had been dreaming about since I was a kid – a Lego Millennium Falcon. It was approximately a ten-hour build (not all in one sitting though). The results of which I proudly display above my Lego Yellow Submarine. Then, unexpectedly, as a birthday gift which made turning 50 a bit less daunting, I received a Lego Death Star. Twenty-hours over five days witnessed me building one of the coolest sets I have ever had. I amused my wife who listened to me geek-out over the process and who patiently, with feigned enthusiasm, allowed me to show her each phase as I competed it. “Hey, look at this trash compactor! See this? You push it, and the walls close!!”
In many ways, I had the same experience building these Lego sets as I did when my kids were younger with one crucial difference: no one is really going to play with the fruits of my builds for quite a while. At this point, they are essentially models to show off. In some ways, this is a letdown because enjoyment comes from the play, of seeing the set come to life.
Although verging on the cliché of “Life is not about the destination but the journey,” what I experienced with putting the sets together is very close to that. The fun was in the work, the building, the pieces coming together. After completing a phase, I would wonder what it would eventually become. At some point, that realization would click. “Oh, so THAT’s what makes the laser cannon move!”
Although the thirty collective hours of Lego-building, for the most part, did not seem that long, it was not without its tedium. Sorting the pieces from each individual bag, following directions which have no verbal component, and retrieving pieces which often fell off the table was maddeningly frustrating at times, but the moments of wonder, excitement, and, well, geeking-out greatly overshadowed the annoyances.
In many ways, my recent Lego builds are like our vocations. The fun is in the work, the process, the seeing things come to fruition. Whether a surgeon replacing a knee, a sculptor carving stone, a welder building a barbeque pit, or a teacher expanding a student’s knowledge base, in most instances, people will assert that the doing (i.e. the work, the process) is fun. This does not mean it is without its moments of struggle, frustration, and annoyances, but the enjoyment far outweighs those instances.
Moreover, the ultimate fun is in seeing people “play” with what one has built: the man able to walk without knee pain, spectators admiring the details of the sculpture, friends hosting a cookout with their new grill, or students going on to their own successes. The frustrations and struggles often pale in comparison to the benefits of the build.
Vocation centers on how we take our passions and interests, blessings granted to us by Divine grace, and utilize them for the service of others, so we should go ahead and face the tedium of sorting the pieces – even if some fall off the table, go through the steps – even if they are not clear sometimes, and vent frustrations when the pieces just will not stay together. Ultimately, what we build through the work will give us the satisfaction of seeing how it allows others to play.UMHB is the university of choice for Christian higher education in the Southwest. If you are looking for a place to receive an education that will help you build through the work that allows others to play, UMHB would be a great fit for you! Check out our website for more information, or stop by any time for a campus visit to learn more!