There is a popular expression: “You had only one job!” According to an online dictionary, it is a phrase “used to express one’s frustration that someone or something has failed at the main or sole task they were responsible for, especially when that task seems very easy or fundamental.”
Saving one’s soul is the main job in life. It is not easy, but it is fundamental and the prime directive above everything else. Yes, God gave each of us unique talents to express, but we are to use those talents to find our path to salvation.
Besides our talents, we can use good works to further our endeavor. Serving others is a means to achieving our main goal of salvation. There are many examples of good works to follow in the Bible, such as the Beatitudes, and in the lives of the saints.
Martha and Mary
In St. Luke’s gospel story about Mary and Martha, we see a conflict though between serving others and pursuing salvation. When Martha prioritized serving others, she was doing good, but Mary understood that listening to the Lord furthered her main goal.
St. Luke reports that, when Martha asked Jesus to instruct Mary to help her, Jesus said, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and upset about many things; one thing only is required. Mary has chosen the better portion, and she shall not be deprived of it.”
“One thing only is required.” In theology, this concept is known as “unum necessarium” which is Latin for the one necessity, the one and only necessary thing you need.
What is that one thing? Judging by the story of Martha and Mary, it seems to be focusing on God. The housework can wait. That promotion at work isn’t all that important. What’s important is your main job: getting to heaven.
Perhaps the Martha and Mary story can be seen as a lesson in continuing education. As children, parents and other adults taught us the basics about being good. We learned about the value of manners and charitable works.
As adults, however, life gets more challenging. Our childhood understanding of the catechism is no longer sufficient. We need more knowledge. We need to go to church for guidance, to a Bible study or a retreat.
That’s what Mary was doing. Yes, our guests need food and drink, but we’ll figure it out later. The dishes will get done eventually. First, I want to hear what the Master has to say. That’s what’s truly important right now.
Goals and Requirements
We have one job. Successful people set a goal and measure everything they do according to how much it will advance them toward that one goal.
For example: you say, “I want a college degree.” Okay, then you have to apply for admission, figure out how to pay for school, attend prescribed classes and dedicate four years of your life to study. Do all that, and you will get a college degree.
Each step, each action gets you further to your goal. There are requirements you have to meet. You will not be given a diploma on good looks and charm
The same is true of your goal to get to heaven. There are certain requirements you have to meet—See the Ten Commandments. Study the Bible for instructions. Don’t put off seeking God until you are between the stirrup and the ground.
You have one job: to save your soul. You should be in constant search for ways to do that such as going to Mass and confession, spending more time in prayer, performing good works, surrounding yourself with good influences and staying away from the bad.
“That’s a lot of work!” you say. Yes, but it is your job, your one and only job.
Excuses about work and family don’t wash. Those other occupations should enhance your efforts at salvation, not detract from them. Use your earthly job to set an example for your coworkers. Love your spouse and be faithful. Love your kids.
Periodically review your life and activities. How have your choices furthered you toward the goal of saving your soul? Is there anything that is distracting from that goal such as the pursuit of money, fame, pleasure or power? Are you mentally or physically lazy?
One job. One goal. One God and one overriding commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
Don’t fail at your one job. Your eternal life depends on it.