“When did you figure out what you wanted to do in school/life?”
That was the text I got a week ago today while playing disc golf. I answered it and had a good conversation about it in the moment. It got me thinking though. After a week of thinking, I think I’ve finally come to an answer:
I’m weird. It’s something I came to grips with long ago. As a senior in high school, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. The only problem was I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to teach. So, in an attempt to figure that out, I did three different teaching internships that year.
I started with English. I loved to write but there were too many poems by old dead guys for me to teach English. English was out.
At the same time I started interning as a band director. I loved playing music and was good at it so maybe I could teach it. Then I tried to teach 6th graders. Definitely didn’t have the patience for it. Band was out.
Halfway through that semester I switched out of band and interned as a PE teacher. I loved playing kickball and dodgeball so maybe PE was where it’s at. Then I realized PE is more about getting the overly sexual couple to stop making out, getting the overly developed girls to put their boobs back in their shirts, and getting the overly rebellious kids to stop smoking or to spit out their dip. PE was out.
I found a major in college that I thought would be fun and did that and really enjoyed it. And I was even pretty good at it. I knew I was supposed to teach though. It’s what I’m made to do.
The whole time that I was in college I knew God was calling me to ministry. I just didn’t want to do it. Every time that I would ask the question, “What am I supposed to teach?” the answer would always be, “Me.”
“Well, yeah, God, that sounds good and all, but public school systems don’t have classes where I can teach people about you and private school is just weird.” (All said while going to a private college. Told you I’m weird.)
After graduating college our chancellor offered me a scholarship that would pay for half of my master’s degree. Then I got a scholarship offer from our football team for the other half of my tuition (told you I was good in my major). I enrolled in the Master’s of Teaching program thinking I’d teach some subject and then volunteer in a church teaching about God. After I realized that plan wasn’t what God wanted, I transferred into Seminary. I thought two things sounded cool: student ministry and church planting.
“Hey. Cool. I’ll start in student ministry, then get a job, then get my church planting degree.”
So that’s what I did. And I thought it was what God wanted me to do. I thought I had figured out what I wanted to do in life.
In December, I got a job offer. Our Creative Director was leaving and the church wanted me to shift into that role. I was scared to leave my role in student ministries, even if it was only halfway leaving for six months. I didn’t know if it’d be the right fit, if I’d enjoy it, or if it was just a distraction because I was finally about to figure out what I was supposed to do with my life. I sat in my bed on a Monday afternoon crying because I didn’t know if I was supposed to do it or not.
“God, I thought we agreed on student ministry. Why is that changing? Am I doing the wrong thing? Should I stay where I am? What am I supposed to do?”
And then I fell asleep.
The next day I woke up, walked into work, and took the job.
As my role shifted, and as I started doing more and more of the things that come with being the Creative Director, I started to become more and more excited about it. At the same time, I was becoming less and less excited about student ministries. Don’t get me wrong, I still loved my small group. I still loved our Wednesday night gatherings. It was just that the day-to-day things in student ministry didn’t excite me nearly as much as the day-to-day stuff on the Creative side of things.
“Um, God. This is weird. Why is this happening to me? Am I supposed to be feeling this way? A little help here please.”
I heard a story on the radio today about a Christian artist. I don’t even remember his name or his song or anything like that. The guy played in a band for ten years and then got burnt out. He left the band and started working in a restaurant. Eventually he thought that was what God was calling him to and started to pursue a culinary degree. Right when he thought he had it all figured out and was doing what he enjoyed and was passionate about, he suddenly had a renewed passion and interest in music. He started writing, quit school, and is now back writing and playing music for God. After that story the DJ added this one simple phrase:
“Right when we think we’ve figured out what God wants us to do, we round a corner and there’s a bigger and better opportunity that is straight from him and is exactly what we’re supposed to be doing.”
I’m supposed to teach people about Jesus.
I’m supposed to work in full-time, vocational ministry.
I don’t have to be a lead pastor or a high school pastor to do either of those things.
Each week, I have the opportunity to come up with creative ways for people to learn about Jesus.
Each week, I get to teach a group of high school seniors what it looks like to follow Jesus.
It took me nine years from the time I started my internships to the time that I finally figured out what God wanted me to do. Chances are things will all change again in a few years and I’ll look back to this post and laugh because of how I think I’ve got it figured out now.
We are on a journey. Where we are now is not where we’re supposed to be tomorrow. Tomorrow is not where we’re supposed to be today. Each day is different. Each step is different. There are twists and turns and rivers and mountains and highs and lows.There are going to be curves. There are going to be times when we don’t see where the next rock is as we try to cross a river. There are going to be mountains that seem to big to get around. There are going to be times where we set camp and enjoy the view.
Enjoy the journey.
Enjoy the times you think you’ve got it figured out.
Enjoy the times you’re crying in bed on a Monday afternoon.
Most of all, enjoy pursuing God and seeking after your calling. In the end, time spent with him is all that matters.
And maybe that’s why the journey takes so long…
Say your prayers and take your vitamins.
Have a nice day.