Human Beings Have Their Limits

Series: Perspectives on Work, Worth and Faith (Article 3 of 13)

I’ve known Sephton since high school. Our first meeting was in an overcrowded SUV headed to a volleyball tournament. However, our friendship actually began years later in university.

For as long as I’ve known him, he’s always been involved in something. In high school, it was playing multiple sports. These days, it’s preaching, visiting friends, teaching in the classroom, going on field trips with his students or working security for events (like the Golden State Warriors team dinner during the 2019 NBA finals), among other things. As he gets older, resting well is something he’s learning to do. 

CHRIS-ANN: When you hear the word work, what is the first thing that comes to mind?

SEPHTON: Life. Work is a part of life. To me, life happens because of work. If there’s no work, then there’s no money, then there’s no food or shelter. I want to make sure that my family is well taken care of.

I also think of identity. The idea of being hardworking is something deeply ingrained in my family; if you don’t work hard, you don’t deserve what you get. It’s something my grandfather passed down to my dad, and my dad passed down to me.

I also think of identity. The idea of being hardworking is something deeply ingrained in my family; if you don’t work hard, you don’t deserve what you get. It’s something my grandfather passed down to my dad, and my dad passed down to me. It’s been a mindset that prospered them; it got them from a small parish in Jamaica to a home in Canada.

CHRIS-ANN: What kind of work do you do?

SEPHTON: Well, I’m a full-time teacher at a high school, a part-time Security Personnel for a variety of events throughout the city and an itinerant preacher.

CHRIS-ANN: How did your journey into teaching start?

SEPHTON: In high school, I always had a plan to become a teacher. I moved to another province for university as a student athlete and stumbled into security to supplement my income. Once I moved back home to complete university, I joined a security company when I returned to continue supplementing my income.

Close to the end of my 4th year I thought God might be calling me into ministry, so I started looking for seminaries. I consulted with my mom and she shut that down right away. She told me to apply to teachers college, and said that if ministry was where I should be, God would affirm it later when I was more mature. 

When I graduated, I had $28,000 in student debt. I worked various part-time jobs coaching but those jobs weren’t enough to make a living and I didn’t want to live off my parents. So, I took the only job available to me at that time; a job up north in the Arctic region of Quaqtaq (pronounced whuck-tack) on the border of Nunavut and Quebec for 2 years.

CHRIS-ANN: What was moving to and being in Quaqtaq like for you?

SEPHTON: While preparing to leave, I didn’t realize how easy it was to pick up and move somewhere. I thought it would’ve been harder. I needed to be there in a week and a half from the time I accepted the offer. So I went to Walmart, got some bins, filled them and left. Excess and having lots of things aren’t necessary. What you really need is food, warmth, shelter, security and community. 

As for the physical location, think: no trees, ice, rock and snow for miles from October to June. In December, the sun would go down at 3:00 PM and rise at 8:45 AM. In the summer, the sun would rise at 3:00 AM and go down at 8:30 PM.

Honestly, the people in Quaqtaq, the Inuit people, are survival artists. Many of them live below the poverty line and often go hunting for food for a week in -40 degree celsius weather. The experience really taught me to rely on God; it is really God who preserves and keeps us. It was lonely at times, having to become a part of a totally different culture, learn the language, way of life, the dos and don’ts. It was hard but I went there a stranger and left a family member.

I think there was also where I became a workaholic. I did what I could to keep myself busy in a place with very little distractions. I had 3 jobs on top of my teaching job. I was a local itinerant preacher, a daycare janitor, strength and conditioning coach for the local hockey team and a night guard at the local jail. I was pretty much on the verge of burnout, if I wasn’t already. 

CHRIS-ANN: Let’s park on burnout for a while. I think this is something a lot of people experience, not only because of hustle culture, but rising costs of living along with other factors. What does burnout look like for you? What are some lessons God is teaching you?

SEPHTON: Burn out looks like a skinnier frame and bags under my eyes. I stop eating healthy, don’t have nearly enough downtime and becoming disgruntled about everything. I’m having to change the way I look at hard work as part of my identity. While it does bring value, there must be rest. Without rest, I won’t be able to function as a human being. All work and no rest is a recipe for destruction.

CHRIS-ANN: What are some specific lessons God has been teaching you that have been really valuable?

Just because I can, doesn’t mean I should. I saw being involved in a lot of things as part of my identity. I would say yes to too many things. I believed I had more capacity to do things and then was bound by my word to follow through.

SEPHTON:

  1. I was created to be a man, not God. Human beings have their limits and those limits need to be respected. When you don’t respect your limits, you put yourself in a deficit. You’re not present while you’re present and your joy suffers.
  2. Just because I can, doesn’t mean I should. I saw being involved in a lot of things as part of my identity. I would say yes to too many things. I believed I had more capacity to do things and then was bound by my word to follow through. A friend calls it a superman complex. I’ve realized there will always be a myriad of opportunities and ministry but just because there are, doesn’t mean God is calling me to them all. 
  3. There must be input before there is output. If there isn’t you won’t be able to give anything. Your personal walk will begin to suffer because of all the time you spend doing instead of abiding. In times like this, I ended up not being any good to anyone around me.

I’m not perfect at these things. I’m still planning and implementing them. I’m learning to do this by focusing on purposeful scheduling. I’m learning to carve out time in my schedule for input.

I’m also trying to maintain an attitude of gratitude. If it wasn’t for thanksgiving, I don’t know where I would be. Be thankful for everything God’s given you. Money can only go so far. It can buy things but it can’t buy love and connection with friends and family, which is a huge blessing. When you’re overworked, you lose sight of that.


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