Finding yourself unexpectedly between jobs may be the ideal time to start living out your own career goals while simultaneously abandoning the quest of trying to live up to the expectations of others.
Perhaps you’ve grown up in an environment in which you allowed others to dictate what your career and job goals should be. Perhaps someone in your own family strong-armed you towards a certain job or career as a means to receive their affection or live out a dream of their own that they themselves weren’t able to fulfill.
When I was in eighth grade (many, many years ago), all the boys in my class attended shop class. Probably the girls attended sewing or some other home economics class. Remember, this was in the pre-enlightenment era.
In any case, all the boys in the shop class had to pick a woodworking project to complete. Each of us had already completed the required gun rack project. Even though our family lived in the city and didn’t own any guns, apparently a right of passage in those days was to have a gun rack just in case. I remember hanging up the completed project in the basement and placing a couple of fishing poles on the rack. Very practical.
Well now that my woodworking skills were finely honed, I next had to make a project of my choosing. There were several books in the shop that I thumbed through to get some ideas. The shop teacher also suggested some of his own project ideas. However, none of these possibilities got me very excited.
That night I mentioned to my dad of my need to come up with a project. He replied that when he was growing up he always wanted to build a model sailboat like his friends had done, but he had never gotten the chance to do so. However, he suggested that my building such a sailboat would be a great idea for my own project. I begrudgingly decided to do so even though I lacked any passion or enthusiasm for such a project. In contrast with my father’s childhood when his friends were pushing off their handmade model sailboats out onto the waters of a nearby pond, when I was growing up, my friends were into slot-car races.
So, the next day in shop class when I announced to the teacher what I had in mind for a project, he scratched his head for a minute, reached into the back of a bookcase and dusted off a book of plans for model sailboats. Of course all the photos of the completed model boats were printed in black and white. Actually, now that I think of it, everyone back in those days probably lived out his or her life in black and white.
I quickly selected one plan (the one that looked like it would be the easiest and quickest to construct) and began the process of gluing together wood boards for the body of the craft. Over the next couple of classes the boat began to take shape under my skilled hands. As I carved out the inside of the body, I was quite proud of myself that only once did my gouge chisel break through the side of the sailboat. The plan called for the keel to be made out of real lead that was to be heated up over an open flame and then poured into a mold. I guess prior eighth-grade shop students who hadn’t yet heard of lead poisoning routinely used this step. As for me, since I wasn’t going to sail this boat, I didn’t bother to ask for a block of lead and an open flame. I also seemed to recall that the shop teacher possessed an underdeveloped sense of humor based on a personal incident when he was trying to teach me welding in seventh grade.
Finally, after a few weeks, the project was completed. It stood about two-feet high with a white sail made from an old bed sheet that could even be hoisted up and down with the aid of some fishing line. I do recall carrying the completed sailboat home where eventually it ended up in the attic without ever getting anywhere near a pond.
Well, what had happened? I had tried to fulfill my own father’s childhood dream of building his own sailboat. However, I soon learned that in this case that I didn’t derive much joy for myself in doing something only because it was something that he had wanted to do.
Similarly, if you have been trying to satisfy other people’s aspirations for your life and your career by taking a certain job or pursuing a pre-defined career path, the time you now have between jobs may be just the opportunity you need to reassess your priorities in order to beginning living out your own unique passions, interests and definition of personal achievement.
Of course, do so through thoughtful study of scripture, prayer and the guidance of others.
Don’t let someone else pick out a plan for the rest of your life from a book that needs to be dusted off. Instead, begin a new page in your own book of faith that will play to your strengths, feed your passion and advance God’s purpose for your life.
By Keith Lundquist
For more blogs and related resources on building your faith during a job search, go to www.FaithBetweenJobs.com