Dearest Rachel –
So yesterday, I mentioned how I rarely ever consulted with God about my plans for the future – or at least, I don’t really recall having engaged in in deep, prayerful discussions with Him on the subject. I know I never heard His voice on any major decision or turning point in my life. Life just sort of… happened, and I basically assumed that – barring an obvious closed door – what was happening was what His will was for me, and left it at that.
In high school, we were encouraged pretty early on to look into fields of study in preparation for college and beyond – after all, what we studied would eventually lead to what we would do for a living, and for the rest of our lives. I knew I hadn’t the people skills of my dad, so sales was right out (not that there’s actually a major for sales, anyway – and what he studied in college didn’t go anywhere near where he ultimately wound up, career-wise. But that’s a whole raft of other stories that aren’t necessarily mine to tell. Maybe I will tell those eventually, as they could stand telling. Look, they’re pretty interesting in their own right). I had skills and talents in a fair number of disciplines, but to decide on one to focus on…?
To be honest, at the time, I dreamed of being in the arts, specifically the performing arts. An actor, a singer, whatever – the idea of having the spotlight appealed to me. Something that would allow me to be on stage before millions. Really, who doesn’t at some point in their life want to be famous? If nothing else, sometimes you just see the dolts that pass for celebrities from time to time, and you think, “gosh, I’m sure I could be a better public voice than this schmendrick.” These days, I watch the folks in the praise team as they deal with the responsibility of being the face of the church in the lobby, and realize I couldn’t have handled it, even if I actually had that level of talent and luck. But hey, what did I know? I was a high-school kid, and I wanted to be famous.
But with that in mind, I was already aware of my relative lack of world-class star-level skill. I concluded that, given the odds, I’d probably be stuck struggling in poverty and obscurity for most of my life if I took such a path. Better to surrender my lofty dreams and soaring ambitions for a career that, while not necessarily rolling-in-millions lucrative, would always be in demand.
Ultimately, rather than going to God about it (at least, as far as I know or remember), I observed my cousin Dennis. Okay, he was my dad’s cousin, but come on, who refers to someone as their “second-cousin Dennis?” Just drop the ‘second’ bit, and move on. Knowing him from outside of the business sphere, I saw him as a happy-go-lucky, hail-fellow-well-met kind of guy, and I concluded “well, if that goofball could make it in the business world, so can I.” And so, I studied to be an accountant. And I did well – passed the CPA exam straight out of college, which did wonders for making me that much more marketable.
Now, I have to admit, I still had a lot of that wannabe artist inside of me. I knew the reputation that accountants had of being dull and boring, and I had no desire to feed that stereotype. In a way, perhaps, I acted more like my cousin Dennis then I might’ve thought I had, insofar as I tried to act more like the creative bohemian type than like a bean-counting logic-driven Vulcan. In fact, I considered a point of pride when someone would find out what I did for a living, and remark, “I would’ve never guessed you to be an accountant.”
What I hadn’t realized about Cousin Dennis, though, was that he was as much a business owner as he was an accountant. That glad-hand personality he had (and I didn’t) served him well in networking and making contacts throughout the business community in ways that socially awkward me could never hope to accomplish. I’d wind up working for somebody, rather than having people working for me, which was how he truly became the business success he was.
And yet, I think I was fine with that. After all, I had no real intention of making this my identity, like so many people do with their profession. This was a way to pay the bills, not something that was going to define me.
All of which is particularly weird, considering how this skill has probably been used more for his service – especially in the last couple of years – than any other talent that I might’ve had, either now or in the past. Perhaps this skill is either just that rare, or it’s a case where nobody ever gets called upon to use theirs like I have – or nobody has the level of opportunity to use it in a volunteer capacity the way I have. Again, it was never something that I meant to do, or heard any calling for. It just sort of… happened.
It was the early 2000s, and our church treasurer was moving away, and he approached me about taking over his position. Basically, all it involved was reconciling the bank statements and assembling monthly financial reports. I wasn’t particularly keen about it, but after some thought (and maybe some prayer? Again, I don’t remember, so for all intents and purposes, it didn’t happen), I acknowledged that to not take up the task would probably be defying some form of call. I never actually heard or felt any such call apart from Bob’s request, but I will admit that it seemed a task I was supposed to do, and I shouldn’t refuse.
I tried to expand on what techniques I had used at my job to compare budgets and actual figures, not to mention previous year’s data, to show how the church was doing financially, and whether things were improving or failing, what needed attention, and where we were prospering. The board seemed pleased with what I provided, and I’ve been doing the job ever since. Indeed, now the role has been expanded to cover the camp – although my work had nothing to do with bringing you to meet your fate, much as it sometimes seems, if I think too long and hard about it.
So whether He meant for me to go into the this profession or not, He has at least been able to use it for His purposes. And I suppose that’s all we can ever ask for whatever path we choose to take.
つづく (to be continued…)