Tag Archives: career

[In]capable Hands

“I don’t think so, Tim.”

timtaylor

Ah, the wisdom of Al Borland, Tim Taylor’s trusted sidekick on the 90s sitcom, Home Improvement.

If you recall, Tim and Al hosted a DIY home improvement show called “Tool Time.”  Tim was a bit of a diva.  He wanted to run every project, make everything bigger and better and most frequently, give things More Power! (insert caveman-ish grunting here)

But, when it came to actually executing the project, Tim always messed something up.  His handiwork was usually accompanied by a crash, explosion or perhaps some injury to Al or himself. Despite his best intentions, Tim Taylor was completely incapable.

Honestly, I’m much the same way.  I’m quite incapable.  I am not just talking about with home repair, although, my mantra is, “a trip to Lowe’s is never complete without a second trip to Lowe’s.”  I’m referring to my ineptitude and inability to be effective at most anything.  This has been a chronic problem my whole life.

There was a part of my life for a couple years where was completely unable to care for myself.  Anytime I wanted to eat, I had to scream until food was brought to me.  Often, I would even soil myself and have to writhe in it until someone would change me.

I’m kidding, of course.

My example being an infant may seem a bit of an extreme, but a good one when it comes to being incapable.  As an infant, we are unable to care for ourselves.  We can’t walk.  We can’t talk.  We can’t entertain ourselves.  We can’t make decisions.  We all had that experience in common.  We had to rely on our parents to care for us.  We require someone with capable hands to provide for us, nourish us, love us, hold us, clothe us, bathe us, change us and make sure we healthy and growing.

It’s no different 3+ decades later, except that I can go to the bathroom by myself.  I still need to have capable hands to guide me, help me make decisions, provide money and food for me, keep me healthy and love me.  I require the capable hands of God.

Over the last several posts, I’ve been highlighting my transition from a wonderful secular career to a career in ministry as a missions pastor.  It’s by God’s provision that I had a successful career filled with friendships, accolades, nice bonuses and top-notch opportunities for growth and advancement.  It is also by God’s provision that I was convicted by the Holy Spirit to desire a career change.  As I responded and began seeking where God would have me go next, He brought forth an opportunity with our home church.  I was baptized at that church as an adult.  I was discipled by the leaders of that church.  I was invested in by the community of that church.  Soon, I was going to have the privilege of being on staff serving the people at that church and helping fulfill the Great Commission.

I’ve made a lot of great phone calls in my lifetime.  Here’s a top five list:

#5: The call to a girl I was dating to let her know the Fraternity I was interested in offered me an invitation to join.

#4: The (collect) call to my dad to let him know I scored my first point in a high school basketball road game.

#3: The call to my parents after I proposed to my wife.

#2: The call to my parents when we were expecting a baby.

and my favorite call of all time:

#1: The call to my wife to let her know we were moving back from Florida so I could become the missions pastor at our church.

“It’s happening,” I said.  The rest of the call was somewhat of a blur.  I know I heard tears.  I withheld mine until I was alone in my hotel room in North Carolina and then I unleashed my emotion in prayer on my knees.

None of that would have been possible without the capable hands of Christ.  It was because of his death that I had the opportunity to be saved.  It was because of the conviction of the Holy Spirit that I was saved.  It is by the Word of God that I continue to be sanctified.  God is responsible for creating me, converting me and completing me.  Without Him, I would have remained an unwashed sinner and someone who deserved death instead of eternal life.

Over the last 32 years, God’s capable hands molded me.  He stripped out insecurities, he removed some imperfections (there are still a lot left).  He is making me into the purpose he intended.  God’s capable hands provided others in my path; mentors, pastors, friends and a wife that aided in my discipleship.

“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of God.”  — Ephesians 4:11-13

It is God who prepares us for our careers, equips us to handle situations and provides opportunities to excel.  I was happy with my former career because God used it to build me up. He used it to provide for my family.  Now, I am elated to be in a ministry position where my job is to share His love.  It is a tall task, because Christ provided the example, one that I’ll never reach.

Ephesians goes on to say, “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” (emphasis added)

Without Christ I was just incapable.

Now, I’m in capable hands.

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It Started at Bojangles

“If we moved back home and made substantially less money, would you go?”

Well, technically, I suppose it all started years ago, but for the sake of this part of our journey, it started at Bojangles’ in Walterboro, South Carolina on April 8th, 2013 – where all religious experiences happen.

Image_Bojangles

So, there’s that. With one loaded question, our future changed. Our finances, our status, our savings, our reliance on a job to sustain us, all changed forever.

By asking Elizabeth that question, it was more of an admission that we needed to change the focus of our lives than it was an actual question. With as much certainty that I knew the answer to the question when I asked her to marry me, I already knew her response to my latest life-altering, stress-inducing, excitement-wielding, freak-out-making question.

Luckily, she said yes.

And with that loaded question and simple answer, our lives would forever change.

Now, a little more of the back story.

In 2008, I found out about a cool mission trip that was going to East Asia to share to Gospel with people on basketball courts around a mega-city.  I was hesitant because I had never been on a mission trip before, and frankly, didn’t think that I was qualified to actually go.  But, I started feeling like God wanted me to go anyway.  Then, Elizabeth said that she thought I should go and that she wanted to go, too.

Here’s the first sticky part.  We needed to make a decision in a about 24 hours.

I was traveling out of town for work the same day we found out about the trip.  I found an office to tuck away in and Elizabeth and I prayed about it over the phone and decided to go on the trip.

Here’s the next sticky part.  We needed $4000.  In fact, we needed a $2000 deposit that week.

I’m guessing God really did want us to go on that trip because just a few days later on February 14th, I showed up to our Valentine’s Day dinner in tears.  A wonderful couple from church had sacrificially donated the exact amount we needed for the deposit.

Fast forward a few years and nine international mission trips and I still get the same feelings I got on that first trip.  I vividly recall standing on the side of a busy road in this mega-city talking to Elizabeth and our trip leader and saying how I could do this all the time.

In early 2012, I was restless with the path of my career.  I had a great job and was very good at it.  I never intended my career to be in digital advertising sales, but I quickly learned that I liked it quite a bit.  Every single year in my working career I had made more money than the year before, either by selling more or getting a promotion.  But, I continued to feel like that would not be my “forever job.” So, I started praying that God would do something so amazing in my life that it would be unmistakable that he was behind it.

Well, God answered that prayer pretty quickly.  I prayed that prayer for the first time on a Friday and the following Monday my publisher called me into his office.  “The CEO wants to talk to you,” he said.

Our company had been purchased at the beginning of the year and the corporate director of digital advertising was not planning on relocating to the new headquarters.  The CEO asked him if he knew anyone in the company that could do the job.  The former director gave him one name.  Guess who.

“Can you be here on Thursday?” the CEO asked me.

“Ummm…yes,” I replied.

On the afternoon of March 9, 2012, I was offered the promotion that required a move to Florida.  On the evening of March 9, 2012, I witnessed the birth of my daughter.  I suppose you could say that was a big day.

The 18 months working as a corporate sales director was a great experience.  I traveled, I worked with fantastic people, I learned and I grew.  Being away from South Carolina, our friends, family and our church was extremely challenging.  Emotionally, the two hardest things I have done in my life so far are leaving home for college and leaving my church for the new promotion.

At the time, I thought this job was the answer to what I had been praying about.  This type of promotion does not happen everyday.  After consulting with friends and coworkers, time in prayer and much discernment, we felt it was the right step for our future.  The income would allow us to continue to let Elizabeth stay at home with the children and take care of our future planning.  The on-the-job training would allow me to continue to grow personally and professionally, and it did.

But, a funny thing happened.  During the time at this new job in Florida, I went on two more mission trips with my South Carolina church.  I had the same feelings upon returning that I had following every single other trip.  I wanted more.  I wanted to give more, invest more and be more obedient.  In time, we learned that the promotion was not the end of God’s big plan for us.

That takes us right up to Bojangles in Walterboro, SC.  Our new plan was to start looking for a job that would bring us back to South Carolina, get enrolled in seminary and one day, upon earning a master’s degree in a few years, find a job in ministry full-time.

Here’s a text message between me and Elizabeth a few days after our life-altering chicken supremes lunch:

J: I called a friend who is a strong believer and owns a business, he didn’t have any jobs right now.  We need to figure out how much it will take for us to live.
E: You’re really serious about this, huh?
J: It’s time.
E: I’m scared, but I trust you.
J: Me, too.  It’s not me we need to trust though. 🙂
And so it began.
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