This Changes Everything

When I was five, I wanted to be a fireman.

You get the idea.
You get the idea.

When I was ten, I wanted to be a lawyer.

This would have been me.  Without the skateboard.
This would have been me. Without the skateboard. Maybe shoes.

When I was thirteen, I wanted to be a playwright.

Goodnight, Duane-Boy.
Goodnight, Duane-Boy.

When I was seventeen, I wanted to be a journalist.

The romantic ideal of a journalist.
The romantic ideal of a journalist.

I’ve wanted to be a lot of things in my life.  I’ve been a lot of things in my life.  Since my first job, entering people’s names into a mailing list via typewriter at Evangel Bookstore in Bellevue, Washington, I’ve been many things.

Christian bookstore clerk.  (As a high school boy, I loved arguing with people who would come in looking for a Bible and demand the King James Version, since that was the “original language.”  I also enjoyed when people would come in asking for a particular book about sexuality for couples.  They would ask, “Do you have The Gift of Sex?” and I would say, “Not yet.  I’m not even out of high school.”  Yes, I at one time I actually believed that was funny.)

Writing Lab Tutor.  (At good ol’ Biola University.  I worked in the Writing Lab for three years and loved tutoring students who needed help with writing papers, etc.  It was right in the heart of the English department–my major–so it felt like being home when I was there.  I got to be chummy with my favorite professors and help Korean students learn the joys of articles and Western logic.)

Assistant Director at A+ Learning Center.  (My first job, post-college.  I remember in the interview the co-owner of the place told me that he goal in life was to make a big pile of money and tell the world to, well, eff off.  “You should aspire to that, too,” was his sage advice.  Sadly, I did not heed his words and have not made a big pile of money.  I did, however, enjoy the job, which was more tutoring and teaching.  I enjoyed the high school kids, loved working with them on papers and comprehension, but I did not enjoy teaching phonics to four year olds.  After one particularly trying day, when I made faces at the little boy who could not understand the sound “c” made, I knew I had to quit.)

Greeter at The Disney Store.  (This was not my official title, but this was what I did for nearly all of the Christmas season as a seasonal hire in 1993.  I loved it.  I stood at the front of The Disney Store at Southcenter and said, “Hi, welcome to the Disney Store!” as people came in.  I won the “gregarious greeter” award that Christmas and eventually was offered a part-time job.)

Lead Cast Member at The Disney Store. (My transition into full-time Disney employment was as one of two full-time non-managers at The Disney Store opening in Bellevue Square in 1994.  It was a great year to be part of Disney, what with The Lion King brand-new in theatres, a new store design, better costumes.  And I got to train all the new employees in Disney Traditions and Guest Service.  Loved it, and eventually did this job at the Disney Store at Northgate.)

Assistant Manager at The Disney Store.  (Started at the Northgate Store, where I worked with incredible people like Alice and Julian, and eventually moved to the Alderwood Store, where I learned retail management from two of the most amazing women, Stacey and Katey.  Loved it, love working there, and loved being part of such an amazing company.  I eventually went back down to Northgate and won the Disney Spirit award, for being a “living testimony” to everything that makes Disney “Disney.”)

The Disney Store watch.  I have three of these.
The Disney Store watch. I have three of these.

Creative Director at Overlake Christian Church.  (From retail to church work was a big switch.  I made a huge number of mistakes.  Learned a whole bunch.  Was able to write and produce musicals and work with amazing actors, singers, dancers, and musicians.  But man, did I learn a lot about people skills from my boss.  Dave taught me so much about the importance of people and relationships.  I didn’t realize it then, of course.)

Marketing Manager for Worldwide Partner Group/High Performance Computing teams at Microsoft.  (Big change back to the “real world” from church work.  Loved the freedom to work as I pleased, whatever hours I wanted, and with all the Diet Coke I could drink.  Did not like being a cog in the wheel, a replaceable entity that would not be missed when I was gone.)

Creative Director at New Life Church.  (Back into church work, at an amazing place with a truly wonderful staff and leadership team.  They took me in spite of myself, loved me and saw what God has been doing in my life instead of what I have done.  Blessed to help create the church’s new identity and to speak into everything from children’s ministry to small groups, Sunday mornings, and more.)

It’s funny, because everything I’ve listed here is a job.  And yet, when I started this post, I said, “When I was five, I wanted to be…”

What we do and what we are are not the same thing.  We so frequently confuse our profession with our position.  Our value and our worth become intertwined with what we do for a living, and yet God says to us that is not the case.  We are something, we have value, because He has placed value in us.  He has created us for a purpose, He has gifted us for a reason, and our worth comes from the fact that a loving Creator put certain passions and purposes in our hearts long before we were born.

I had an interesting, humbling, and altogether amazing conversation yesterday.  It reminded me that God puts value on what we are, and helps guide what we are into what we should do.  He put a passion in my heart years ago that I thought was gone–or if not gone, shut off and kept quiet.  But He has reopened that passion.  He has spoken into me through others that my purpose has not yet been fulfilled.

This changes everything.

After today, my life will never be the same.  My passion will soon be my position.  And all I can do is ask the God who gave me that passion, and the people who have fanned that spark back into a roaring flame, to stand with me and guide me and direct me.  I believe I am up for the challenge, only because I know God will go before me and say, “This is the way.  Walk in it.”

More info to come.


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