Like me, perhaps you have endured seasons of job changes and career pivots–twists and turns in the road to making a living. With seasons of change we’re presented with the opportunity to see our lives from a different perspective, to step back and evaluate.
As I have experienced career transitions, and there have been a few, I have found that the first place God speaks to me is in the area of Who I am, long before He speaks to me about what He wants me to do or where exactly He is taking me (and my family, often).
When we surrender to God, just as the C.S. Lewis quote above poignantly describes, we make room for God to shape us into the image of His Son, and when that happens, the personality God has given to us emerges–not the one that’s the result of living in a fallen world. The circumstances of our lives lead us to turn our hearts more fully to Christ, and then God helps us to become more fully who He has created us to be. What a mystery it is that I am more distinctly myself when I die to my own will, when I step aside as captain of my own ship.
I recently went through one of these job transitions myself about 5 months ago, and so this lesson is fresh for me. At the time, I didn’t understand what God was up to. But looking back, two big take-aways stay with me:
— First, God reminded me that no matter the challenge we face, the most important question is ‘Who’.
— Second, God showed me again that each job I have in life is one in a series of assignments, each with its unique God-authored objectives. God is in the work I do, no matter what it is.
First, Who. At the very start of the job transition, I made the commitment to walk and pray every day, so out the door I went with Piper, our faithful retriever-mix 4 year-old puppy (as you probably know, retrievers take a little longer to grow up! :). And, boy did we walk. Often with ear buds in and listening to the Bible on my iPhone (that was me, not Piper), I walked sometimes 4-5 miles, often further. One day I returned exhausted from an 11-mile walk. What happened during that time was this: I reconnected with the most important Person in the Universe, my Savior and Lord. It was all about “Who” I reached for, not what, or where or when. I’m not sure what your best approach is to reconnect with God, but start there.
Calling is always first about the Caller.
The second big take-away–that each job I have comes from God–definitely wasn’t a new revelation. This is something I have known for many years. But the affirmation from the Lord that He is absolutely involved in every aspect of my job search gave me peace. It also helped me to stay focused on the purpose of work: just like a farmer clearly understands the connection his efforts have to the end result, so is my daily effort connected to the practical outcome of a salary or paycheck. That in itself is good and pleasing to God.
It’s easy to lose sight in our modern world of jobs and professions and careers and callings and vocation and occupation and line of work and…you get the idea…that first a job is just that–a means for working the soil God has given to us, in order to provide for our family. If we can also do ministry or pursue a passion through a job, great. Many times, however, God asks us to express our the specifics of our calling in other areas of our lives than our job or profession.
At these times, I am reminded of Gerard Manley Hopkins beautiful notion of the value of work:
“It is not only prayer that gives God glory but work: smitting on an anvil, sawing a beam, whitewashing a wall, driving horses, sweeping, scouring, everything gives God glory if being in his grace you do it as your duty. To go to Communion worthily gives God great glory, but a man with a dung fork in his hand, a woman with a slop pail, give him glory too. He is so great that all things give him glory if you mean they should.”
What freedom there is to know that God will meet us today in our work–no matter what that work is. Whether we are in our ideal job or working hard to get to a better fit, when I give him my best today and trust Him with the increase, I can rest in his confidence. That’s what it means to be a steward in God’s family. It’s all His, and because He is the one giving each of the job assignments, we can trust that He values every bit that we bring to Him through the sacrifice of our lives.
Calling is about trusting the Caller Who provides the work we’re given.
Well, to finish the story, I am thrilled to be back to work, this time with Alliance, with Don and Rodney and the team, as well as with Del Tackett to produce the follow-up to the Truth Project (more on that in the weeks ahead). I’m still walking, though not quite as often or as far as I’m a little busier these days, and sadly without our beloved Piper who we had to say good-bye to in January, too early in her short life. And I’m listening to the Caller, who I know has many more things to share with me in the days ahead. Just as He has to share with you!