Competing Ways: Gurus vs. God

 The Guru track to career success.  Whose missing?

The Guru track to career success.  Whose missing?

In the rather convoluted job/career track I’ve been on since 2008, 16 positions in nine years, my current job has by far been the most enjoyable.  It seems I found something new I flourish at - customer service!  

Might have something to do with the workplace -  a hardware store - essentially a toy store for a Do-It-Yourself guy like me.

It’s a great work environment - a knowledgeable, patient boss, supportive and friendly co-workers and a growing and appreciative customer base. I also love the part-time schedule that has allowed me to work a little more on some long latent creative longings like this blog, writing in general, maybe doing something more with my ornaments...

Unfortunately, the variable schedule pushes against the rhythms my creativity thrives best in and then there’s the compensation issue.  Retail pay is notoriously poor and I’m at the lowest rung possible.  Although we gave this a go, we’ve been tapping into our modest savings to cover our bills.

We already live frugally but we managed to find a couple small costs to cut back on while keeping a closer eye on spending.  Meanwhile we lean heavily into what has become our primary life strategy - to trust in, abide with and wait on the Lord.

 Me as a True Value, "Customer Service Associate"

Me as a True Value, "Customer Service Associate"

This "Trust-Abide-Wait" focus finally locked in with me in 2016, a few months after I was “downsized” from position #15.  During eight or so years of career-searching, I basically vacillated between following the “Guru” career-search track and seeking/depending on the Lord.

“Guru” is my term for the generally advised career-search strategy that involves crafting a plan with tailored materials and pitches that feed a relentless campaign to aggressively promote yourself to hiring managers who make the call about who gets the job and who does not.

Some of the Guru mantras are: “Go big or go home… Just do it… If you want it, you gotta go get it;” and,  “Don’t turn back until you hit your mark.”

In stark contrast is God’s way along the line of Jesus’ striking teaching in Matthew’s gospel:

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
— Matthew 7: 7-12, ESV

Notice how individualized God’s advice is.  “EveryONE who asks receives, and the ONE who seeks finds, and to the ONE who knocks it will be opened.”  

So how does God work out what happens when each of us ask, seek and knock along different lines?  EXACTLY!

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps...Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.
— Proverbs 16:9 and 19:21, ESV

When I finally peeled myself away from Guru to give myself over to trust-abide-wait, I was able to hear God’s voice a lot better.  This hardware job surfaced during that time and I accepted it with full knowledge of its variable hours and meager pay.  While our bank account dwindled a bit, my wounded spirit was restored.  

In the last three weeks, two job opportunities were made known to me, both bearing God’s fingerprints. While neither were perfect fits, I applied for both.  The second one resulted in my next job that offers stable hours, better pay and a growth track I can pursue if I want to.

Now I have to break the news to my current boss and colleagues.  Store staffing is delicately balanced and my departure is going to upset that balance during our busiest season. After I accepted the offer for the new job, I decided to also trust-abide and wait for a couple days to seek God’s guidance about the conversation with my boss.  

I’m glad I did because God reminded me that my duty is to listen for and follow only him and let him take care of everything else.  

“He is before all things, and in him ALL THINGS hold together,” wrote Paul in his letter to the Colossians  (1:17, NIV).

“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27, ESV)

God holding ALL THINGS together includes my boss and colleagues, all our customers as well as everyone at my new workplace.  Such “holding” as only God can do is behind Paul’s bold, “no stress” statement in his letter to the Philippians:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
— Philippians 4: 6-7, NIV

Ideally, obedient believers have no stress whatsoever when we follow the path the Lord opens no matter how unusual or irrational it may initially seem.  Even so, God recognizes that this life is far from ideal and we all are stuck in it to varying degrees. For our "stuck" moments," Jesus offered these words of comfort:

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
— John 16:33, NIV

No matter how stressed we feel about what we know we have to do, "Trust-Abide-Wait" is generally a great course to take.