Professional or Amateur?

While out of town in a rented house, I exchanged an empty toilet paper roll with a new one. The manufacturer individually wrapped each roll. Rarely do I pay any attention to what they write on the wrapping, but this one caught my eye. This host provided “PROFESSIONAL Bathroom Tissue.” I wondered if I failed my family by only providing amateur toilet paper.

Then, I wondered… what makes toilet paper professional?

In this context, the word is an adjective, so I started there. Many of the definitions in Dictionary.com didn’t apply, but I found them humorous to consider.

  • “following an occupation as a means of livelihood or for gain: a professional builder”
    • While toilet paper does a “job,” it doesn’t make a living.
  • “engaged in one of the learned professions: a lawyer is a professional person.”
    • I’m not sure how much “education” toilet paper needs before “working”
  • “following as a business an occupation ordinarily engaged in as a pastime: a professional golfer”
    • I can think of better hobbies to fill my time and develop into a business.
  • “done by a professional; expert: professional car repairs”
    • Finally, one that may fit the wording…although I dislike definitions that circle back to the word I’m looking up.

Next, I checked for synonyms for “professional.” Now we were getting somewhere. Synonyms include competent, efficient, and qualified. Those are qualities I definitely want in toilet tissue! Funnier synonyms include licensed (Is there a competency test?) or experienced (Toilet paper is only a one-time use, so where does the experience come from?).

Antonyms of professional provided even more laughter to my search. If my host hadn’t purchased “professional” toilet paper, they could have subjected me to tissue that was incapable, incompetent, or inefficient. That is NOT the toilet paper I want to use at all.

Over the past several years, the hospital where I was employed joined many other corporations in embracing service excellence. You may have noticed this emphasis in talking with employees or completing a customer service satisfaction survey. Only excellence counted, and there was an emphasis on evaluating how to move customers who received “very good” service into the category of having experiencing excellent service. Some things were outside our control (elective procedures delayed because of an emergency add-on), but other things like parking, pre-arrival instructions, etc. could be addressed as issues arose.

When I served in the local church on the worship team, we also strove for excellence. Several verses encouraged us to give our best efforts. Verses such verses as Col 3:23 reminded us that whatever we do should be of the quality as if we were working for God, not man. In 1 Cor 9:24, Paul encourages us to best efforts by referencing a race and the training to win. Recently, Carrie Underwood and CeCe Winans were lauded for their impressive duet on the 2021 ACM Awards. A post by Ryan Denison on the Denison Forum reviewed how excellence leads to gospel opportunities. It is well worth reading and reflecting on the points of the author. Carrie and CeCe excel as professional singers. Some saw their duet as a performance; many, myself included, were transported into worship through their words. And, as the Ryan noted, their professionalism planted gospel seeds.

Which brings me back to the topic at hand – professional toilet paper. I know the company has standards that separate common from professional toilet tissue. I realize that sometimes it’s geared for businesses and quicker, more complete dissolution in locations of frequent and heavy use by lots of people. However, I do think it comical that I never noticed the upgraded wording until after the lowly toilet paper faced such shortages after the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Apparently, during this time, some rolls got uppity.

So, how does this apply to our everyday lives? During the pandemic, people also increased their abilities from amateur to professional. Just look at the skill sets gained over the past year. Many of us were previously unfamiliar with zoom meetings, and now we do so easily. Parents and grandparents went from homework helpers to teachers – either solo or alongside professional teachers, who quickly had to increase their expertise at online teaching programs. Unfortunately, others went from TV as a hobby to professional couch potatoes. But I digress.

As this year progresses, what activities will be my focus as I strive to become a professional in that area?

I want to leave amateur status in so many areas: cooking, quilting, writing, etc. However, the better focus might be in achieving excellence in listening before reacting, living with contentment, expressing gratitude for all the blessings I often overlook, extending grace to others when they make a mistake, encouraging others, sharing my abundance with generosity, and finding joy in the moment, etc.

In what areas do you want to move from amateur to professional?

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