Growing up (not that I'm finished by any means!), I always had an answer for those who asked what I was going to be. Like most little boys, I started off wanting to be just like my Dad in every way, including growing up to work at F&H Food Equipment. Granted, I really had no idea what my dad did at F&H, but that's where I wanted to work. After all, he went on sales calls to places with fabulous names...like Milwaukee.
Then, and I remember this vividly, when I was six, my dad and I were driving around in his Bronco II when he put a tape in the stereo that would forever change my life: Garth Brooks' No Fences. From that point until around sixth grade, I wanted to be Garth Brooks. I had every song memorized, started learning the guitar, had a big Garth Brooks poster over my bed. Some boys memorized baseball lineups and statistics; I memorized the track order of Garth Brooks albums. I was going to be a country music star.
Sometime around the sixth grade, I developed an interest in medicine and decided I was going to go to school at UMKC and become a pediatrician. I even shadowed my pediatrician in eighth grade and it was a great experience...I even got to wear a lab coat. But in eighth grade, I had the greatest social studies teacher in the world, Jim Wood. I've always had a passion for history and Mr. Wood ignited that. My tenth grade world history teacher, Jeremy George, taught me to pursue my passion and my passion was history; why not teach it? So that was it. I was even voted most likely to end up teaching at Hillcrest by my senior class.
That lasted until I randomly took a New Testament class at SMS and had so much of what I thought I knew about the Bible and religion turned on its head. Talk about a paradigm shift. I even learned what a paradigm shift was. I immersed myself in the study of religion and found the intersection of my two biggest passions: history and Christianity. It was beautiful. I remember how long I wrestled with whether or not to change my major from history education to religious studies, a switch I've never regretted. I was still going to teach; it was just going to require a PhD.
But like my other career paths, my confidence over the last year and a half has wained regarding becoming a professor. See, I firmly believe that God calls each of us to a vocation. As in all other things, I believe that we choose whether or not to accept that calling. I could be perfectly content as a high school history teacher and I know that I could do a PhD program if I wanted to do so. But what is God calling me to do? Is it something else entirely?
Ever since I was little, my GaGa (that's Mom's mom, for the uninitiated) has told me that I was going to be "her little preacher", so that's been in my head too. Every year at Camp Galilee, there would be a special call for those who might feel called into full-time ministry of some kind and I always wrestled with God as to whether or not that was me. I've wrestled and wrestled, warning God that if God was truly calling me to ministry as a vocation, God would have to start moving some mountains or burning some bushes to prove it. I haven't seen any yet. But the thought's been creeping up a lot more over the past six months.
I'll be 24 in November. Not old by any means, but perhaps not so young either. Hopefully I'll be finishing up my MA this year. And I'm getting closer and closer every day to marriage. But what's next? I love my job and have no intentions of leaving any time soon, but I don't want to be a youth director for the rest of my life.
The freak-out part of this is that growing up, regardless of what it was, I was always incredibly confident of what I was going to do in life. The last year and a half has truly been the first time I've had doubts about what I wanted to do with my life. And there's the rub; I could be perfectly happy teaching (at either level) or preaching. But where is God calling me?
For now, I'll just keep singing.
Lead me, Lord
Lead me in Your righteousness
Make Thy way plain before my face
For it is Thou Lord
Thou Lord only
That makest me dwell in safety.