In March 2017, I celebrated the release of New Woman, New Clothes: Outfit Your Soul to Live, Lead, Love by delivering the closing message for a women’s Bible study. We focused on what it means to find purpose in life and jokingly adopted the phrase, “Don’t quit your day job,” as a reminder that God uses the day-to-day stuff of living to transform us into women who fulfill God-sized dreams. As I stood on stage, I was poignantly aware of when I’d been in just such an audience twelve years earlier and had felt God calling me to step forward to serve Him in new ways.
Or perhaps “waddle forward” was a better description, since I was full-term pregnant with our second child. The baby had dropped so low in the womb by that time that she felt like she’d fall out if I didn’t cross my legs. As full of baby as I was, though, what I recall most was that I was also full of a sense of God’s purpose for my life. I heaved my big ol’ self to my feet as the speaker prayed over us, commissioning us for whatever lay ahead. I felt strongly that I was stepping out in a new direction. In fact, the image that came into my mind as we prayed was from Joshua 3 where Israel’s priests carried the ark and stepped into the flood-stage Jordan River. Scripture says that the moment their feet touched the water it completely dried up. The people then crossed over on dry ground, passing by the priests, and everyone finally entered the Promised Land after 40 years of wandering.
Eyes squeezed shut, I stood there thinking, “This is awesome! I’m going to be like one of those priests, those ministry leaders that stepped into the river of the unknown and saw miraculous things happen.” I knew it was a moment of commissioning and calling.
However, I probably should’ve paid attention to some of the other details in that account from Joshua—words like “dried up,” “the people passing by,” and even “40 years”—because after my second child was born I was completely overwhelmed with parenting little ones. In hindsight, I’m pretty sure that I suffered post-partum depression, as well. While not to the level of depression I had suffered in college (that’s a story I discuss in New Woman, New Clothes), I experienced an emotional numbness that left me disconnected from others, especially my husband, for almost a year after my daughter’s birth. I was exhausted, and frankly, I felt spiritually dried up and like all the people around me were passing me by.
Just as I began to feel like myself again, things took a turn for the wacky when my husband got an offer for us to move to Taipei, Taiwan. We were moving to a country that I sheepishly admit I couldn’t yet find on a map. (Note to self: Taiwan and Thailand are not the same.) Things were exciting again, but this didn’t exactly feel like ministry or calling in the way I thought. I remember standing bewildered in my kitchen thinking, “OK, God, maybe it’s Your plan that when I go to Taiwan, I’ll become a missionary. That’s got to be it.”
Then, I heard in my heart the words, “Don’t quit your day job.” I looked down at the verse-of-the-day calendar on my kitchen counter and saw a passage relating to parenting. I laughed out loud at God’s gentle, teasing reminder. Even though I didn’t fully understand what He was trying to tell me, I knew He didn’t want me to forget the work He’d already given me while in the process of figuring out this thing called purpose and calling.
What I would learn was that being willing to show up in love and faithfully live out a day-job-kind-of-life with the people He had entrusted to me was going to be the way He transformed me into a person who could embrace her calling. And by the way, the “40 years” in the story from Joshua? Wouldn’t you know it, at age 40 was when the pieces fell in place for me to begin teaching, speaking, and writing in ways that helped lead other people to deeper relationships with God.
Don’t get me wrong, though. “Don’t quit your day job” living doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with whether we make various employment changes throughout our lives. I’ve been everything from a (very bad!) barista at a coffee house to a product manager in the tech industry to a busy, at-home parent taking writing jobs along the way. This also isn’t about foregoing the necessary work to develop skills and seize opportunities that allow us to fulfill God-given dreams. What I’m talking about is not quitting our real jobs, our daily jobs of loving God and loving the people He’s put in our lives. I’ve found that job description summarized in Colossians 3:12-14:
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
In other words, “Don’t quit your day job!”
No matter what our tasks, assignments, ministries, hobbies, or passions are, we have a day job as God’s chosen, holy, dearly loved people to put on some spiritual work clothes and go build relationships with others. My encouragement is to examine and identify ways God is using our day jobs to strengthen, equip, or mature us into people who can embrace purpose.In the following post, I discuss some practical ways that has played out in my life. See you then!
My day job!