First Seven Jobs
Monday, September 12, 2016 at 2:00PM
Ben Simpson in Life, work

The #firstsevenjobs hashtag emerged several weeks ago on Twitter. The Atlantic wrote about it. I enjoyed it. I have had fourteen jobs that I can count. I have probably had more.

Here is Arnold Schwarzenegger’s list:

Ice cream salesman (age 10, at the lake)
Glass factory custodian
Hardware sales
Tank driver
Personal trainer

— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) August 10, 2016

Bill Shakespeare:

1 Mewling infant
2 Unwilling schoolboy
3 Sighing lover
4 Bearded soldier
5 Wise justice
6 Slippered pantaloon
7 Ghost

— William Shakespeare (@Shakespeare) August 9, 2016

Buzz Aldrin:

Dish washer
Camp counselor
Fighter pilot

Now Global Space Statesman!

— Buzz Aldrin (@TheRealBuzz) August 7, 2016

My list:

  1. Lawn Care Worker
  2. Retail Clerk
  3. Day Camp Counselor
  4. Grocery Warehouse Worker (Pallet-Man)
  5. Youth Ministry Intern/Interim Youth Pastor
  6. Student Aide - Department of Religion
  7. Children’s Ministry Intern

Since then I have worked as an associate children’s minister, a barista, a youth pastor, a writer, a lawn care worker, and as a youth and college pastor. Now I am back to being a writer.

Jeff Sharlet asked a question (serious or not, I cannot tell), as to whether or not #firstsevenjobs was a middle class thing where people claimed “Horatio Alger cred” prior to having “made good” in later occupations. That could be the case, I guess.

But I took it as a narrative that tells us not everyone ends up where they began, and many people share similar beginnings. Many of us worked the same summer jobs. Someone kindly gave us a shot and helped us learn what it means to work.

In one of my first job interviews I told a Best Buy manager that I wanted to work in the warehouse because I preferred being behind the scenes and didn't really enjoy working with people. After that answer, the interview quickly drew to a close and I never received a call back. I wonder why.

I learned from that experience.

I learned a little about working hard while sweating under the sun and cuttin’ grass, and I learned a great deal about good (and bad) management while working for Service Merchandise. My earliest experiences in ministry taught me about myself (I have been given some gifts and possess very real limits), but also about the basic nuts and bolts involved in good systems work and in developing personal relationships with people that are defined by love. I learned this through successes and failures. I have made a lot of mistakes.

I think I am still learning a lot about work. And I am still searching for the right “job,” whatever that might mean.

For now I am working on becoming the kind of person who will bless others, always. I won't be idle while doing so. I do have goals. We are a two vocation household and there is a way of being married, given that consideration, that we are still in the process of figuring out. Molly and I want to be responsible and generous wherever we may find ourselves in ministry.

Have thoughts on work? An odd job or anecdote? Leave a comment.

Article originally appeared on Benjamin A. Simpson (
See website for complete article licensing information.