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Pray and Do the Next Thing

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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Dee Mitchell was all about law school. In our undergraduate years, she was the front-row student in freshman geography with all the right answers. In campus government, she was the senator who missed parties but turned in a definitive report on university traffic congestion. Her only non-A was a B in tennis.

By the end of law school, Dee was on law review and third in her class. Within a month of graduation, she showed up at a prestigious firm in a large city and began to work days and nights and Saturdays and . . . within two years she was burned out and bored. Bored? By the shining path? She hadn’t set up a category for “bored” and was ashamed not to excel at what she couldn’t put her heart into. Mentally she surveyed every female attorney five and 10 years ahead in her firm and saw no one she wanted to be.

Uh oh. Rule-following had gotten Dee this far with praise, promotions, and paychecks. She hadn’t wondered if God had ideas for her life because her own plan was running on autopilot. Now the firm was aimed to run over her if she didn’t perform. About that time, someone took the time to explain Jesus Christ, and she took the time to listen. She un-clenched and sagged into His unconditional acceptance and love—two principles underwhelming at her firm. She started reading the Bible and said with wonder to a Christian friend, “You have so much wisdom at your disposal.”

But how would God tell her what to do next? Would she hate it but follow out of duty? Would she dream it? Hear a voice? She didn’t know, so she did the next thing: she bought a book on changing careers, and chapter-by-chapter she did the exercises. She defined regions of the country, tasks, and categories she did like by eliminating the ones she didn’t. She wrote paragraphs about problems and challenges in her life that she resolved and enjoyed. She interviewed people in professions she might like.

An outline emerged around her interests, which seemed to lean toward teaching. If she had an interest in teaching, God gave it. She did the next thing. She attended an annual convention where colleges look at potential professors, and (after fearfully closing her eyes and leaping) she took a position teaching ethics at a distant law school. Three years later, she was restless again and admitted that teaching wasn’t it either. Law itself bored her. This time she drew from her savings to attend a two-week seminar led by the career-change book author himself, and she worked hard. She worked until she identified the very field that benefited from a law and teaching background, but was neither law nor teaching. Not by chance, but through methodical personal information-gathering, she found the field that combined many of her loves.

She moved back to her hometown and paid bills teaching night law school. By day she took finance classes. Then, because she lacked experience in the new field, she worked six months in it for free. At the end of the six months, the company hired her. A year later, she moved to its competitor.

Dee will tell you now that she attended law school because it was the clear path. She would also say that the uncertain path, which forced her to trust God and do the next thing, led her closer to her real gifts—closer to daily work as a high calling.

Few people can jump into big change, but anyone can pray. And anyone can do the next thing. Then the next. The most breathtaking view of a change comes not from squinting hesitantly at the future, but many, many next things later, pausing gratefully to look back.
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