“I want to be a fire truck when I grow up, mommy!”
Yes, those words were mine. I was 3 years old, I think, when I emphatically made this announcement to my mom. (Takes me back to one of my all-time favorite comedies, Tommy Boy. “Did you eat paint chips as a kid?” Ha!) Eventually I gave up my lofty goal of being a fire truck and moved on to other dreams.
I bring this up because I recently was asked about my career dreams when I was younger and how they evolved as I aged. After illusions of Transformer-esque qualities, I discovered a deep passion for music and developed aspirations of being a rock star that hung with me for many years. I enjoyed music, was good at it, and figured it would be a great career path. As time went on and my relationship with God deepened, I also developed a desire to be in ministry, specifically in serving as a missionary. This particular desire overtook my rock star delusions after I arrived at Belmont University in 1996 and realized that I was a dime a dozen in the music world. So I shifted my focus on graduating college and going to seminary to pursue life as a missionary.
Again, my plans were forced to change as my new wife and I discovered we were expecting my oldest son just three months into our marriage and two months before graduation. So I secured a job with my dad’s company, Bechtel Group Inc., as a project analyst in their Houston office. During this time, I never gave up on my goal of working in the ministry, but, now, my focus was on being a full-time worship leader. I finally achieved that goal in 2006 as I resigned from my position with Bechtel and joined my church staff as the full-time worship pastor. Three years later, we decided to move from South Carolina to Tennessee to help start a church, and, to accomplish this move, I got a job at a Department of Energy facility in a role I had previously performed with Bechtel.
So here I am. 2013. Four years after moving to Tennessee, that new church has fizzled away and I am working as a strategic infrastructure planner for DOE, something I never dreamed I would be doing nor enjoy as much as I do. Funny how God works.
It’s common for the “what do you see yourself doing in five years” question to pop throughout life. I look back on my life and see the futility in this question. How can one plan what they want to do that far in advance? As Woody Allen once said, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” This is because we don’t know the curveballs that life is going to throw at us. The Bible cautions making specific plans for tomorrow when we have no clue what it is to come. Instead of living life with a closed fist around our plans, I think the prudent approach would be to be open-handed, to relinquish control to the Lord and live your life.
I believe a better framed question for the future is “who do you want to be in the future”. This question inserts vision into the equation. A Bible proverb says that without vision a person will perish (I’ve paraphrased to fit this thought stream). Do you have a vision for your life? Or are you perishing as life relentlessly hits you with curveballs? I can more readily answer this question of who I want to be, though I have learned to be open-handed with it as well.
Who I want to be in five years:
- A man that presses into God more than I do today
- A better reflection of Jesus to those around me than I am now
- A better father to my four children than I am now
- I want to be married again, so a better husband than I was in my first marriage
- An increasingly humble learner as knowledge can lead to pride
That is all I have at this moment. Maybe that is all I need. After all, it’s a big vision, bigger than anything I can accomplish on my own. I guess time (or more specifically God) will unveil the answer to me when I need to know it. But the point is this. A RESOLE life is more focused on the “who” than on the “what”. Plans will develop as vision comes into greater focus.