Questions and answers, but mainly questions.

Can you hear Me now?

Talk about a wild week. On Tuesday I received/accepted a job offer from Level 10 Design. We’ve been searching/praying for a new job for me for about a month. Today I negotiated a continuation with Love A Child on a part-time basis (which I discussed with my new boss during my second interview – he’s cool with it). This means that gigantic prayer number 2 for the month of March – namely that upon finding another full-time position, Love A Child would want to keep me on at about 20 hours/week – has been answered. The process of seeking employment is sort of exhilarating to me. After reading 48 Days to The Work You Love last spring, I’ve adopted a super pro-active approach to job searching. A couple of quick tips, then I’ll get to the point of this post:

1. To conduct an effective job search, it is essential that you first define what you want to do, what kind of organization/entity you want to do it for and why. The reasons for this are two-fold. One, nobody (worth working for anyway) wants to hire someone who is just looking to do anything. Good employers pick candidates with goals and passions. Second, if you never make time to discern your skills, interests, gifts, and how they align, it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever wind up in a fulfilling career. You’re positioning yourself to be a slave to circumstance.

2. Job postings in newspapers, employment bulletins and online represent about 8% of the job openings out there. If all you’re doing is scanning the want ads and filling out online applications, you’re wasting your time. When I’m looking for a job, first I define what I want to do, whom I’d like to do it for and why. Then I search like crazy for companies and organizations that meet the “who” criteria. I find out who would be the most likely person in charge of hiring for the job I’d like to do and I do three things – three things no matter what. FIRST I send them a cover letter and résumé (preferably snail mail, because a lot of these people get over 100 emails a day and I WANT TO GET NOTICED). In that letter I explain what I want to do for them, why I’m qualified to do it for them, how I’ve made a difference doing it for others, and why I want to do it for them. I don’t ask them to contact me for an interview. I ask them to please accept my call on such and such a morning to discuss any opportunities they may know of. SECOND, I call them just when I said I would. Whether an interview is arranged at that point or not, my THIRD step is to follow up with another letter thanking them for taking the time to speak with me. The only person I’ve never made contact with was the Advertising Creative Director at JC Penney, and that’s because the gentlemen I thought held that position no longer worked there. I got a job somewhere else before I had a chance to find out who the current Creative Director was.

The fact is, most job openings never get advertised because the employer already knows someone who might fill it. Be that someone.

Embarrassingly – that was an aside. The reason I sat down to write has more to do with “hearing” from God. There’s been a lot of discussion about this in our home group and, in light of my career activity, the subject has been on my mind a lot. Let me give you a very practical example of where I’m at. During my job search, an opportunity was presented to me that, had it worked out, it would have required us to move again. Having moved about five times in the past four years, we cringed at the prospect of packing up our life again, pulling up roots again, looking for a church again, and (most of all) being the new people – again. However, the opportunity would have given me a massive head start in Art Direction, which is what I see myself doing in a few years. It also would have likely paid very well. We’re not the kind of people to chase money all over the country, but we are still under the burden of some significant debt.

Naturally, the thing to do here is “pray about it.” This is where I get honest. I’m struggling with what this means exactly. What do I pray for? Some have suggested praying for a closed door or an open door – some kind of “clear guidance from God” as to what road to take. While a closed door is sometimes a helpful discernment tool, I have some problems with this mentality. What if the door isn’t shut – it’s just really stubborn? What about persistence and fight? I mean, don’t get me wrong. If God Almighty shuts a door, it’s shut. I just feel like this ethos yields itself to passive pursuits, which, in my experience, are not very effective or rewarding.

What if both (or multiple) opportunities remain open? How do I pray then? I think it’s good to ask God to help us discern our desires. That’s how I’ve suggested to Kristin we begin praying concerning whether to adopt our next child or try to conceive again. We suffered two miscarriages this year. Both pregnancies were unexpected. The losses were very hard on us. We really want to adopt, we really want to conceive and really want to avoid doing both at the same time! Which do we pursue first? Well we’re going to pray for God to help us see more clearly what it is we want.

Hiccup number two (at least for me): How do I hear from God? Some have suggested that The Holy Spirit will give me peace about things and that’s how I know God approves of or is leading me in a certain direction. The problem is I’ve very peacefully made some stupid decisions in the past. Can we really hear from God outside of reading/meditating on/praying over and about Scripture? I don’t know – maybe, but I’ve never experienced it. Or I have and I’m just not aware of it. For some reason, I get antsy when someone tells me, “God’s telling me to tell you that (insert something encouraging)” or “I think the Lord is speaking to me about (insert some kind of decision).” Couldn’t it be that you just really want to encourage me because you love me? I mean – it’s not like that would be an act of disobedience. And why do decisions made by Christians have to be made by some intangible nudging. The truth is, we’re always acting out our deepest desires. Can’t we just look to scripture to shape them and thank Jesus for redeeming our dark hearts?

What do you think?


7 responses

  1. That has to be the best blog post I have ever read… my comments must come later after I let it all sink in!

    March 24, 2006 at 4:58 pm

  2. i… oh man. well we’ve talked a bit about this in conversations. i have a hard time with this topic in my life – i always have. what you wrote is really resonating with me.

    i think our desires do play a big part – i know that’s what happened for me. the good thing about my crazy job situation is that it was long-stretched out. because of that i had a lot of time to truly evaulate what i wanted. although the job was offered to me, i saw in the end that the ony reason i really wanted it was for more money. then they gave me the offer, but it wasn’t with the money i was hoping for. so with that piece of the puzzle lost forever, it was easy for me to know i wasnt supposed to leave where i am now – and i felt peace about it.

    i hate to say it, but for me feelings do have a big role. if i feel nauseous every time i think of something, its usually not right for me. lol.

    this was awesome – thanks for the thoughts.

    March 29, 2006 at 9:23 am

  3. Oh Matt… where art thou?

    April 3, 2006 at 3:42 pm

  4. I’m waiting for more people to leave a comment!

    April 3, 2006 at 8:30 pm

  5. danielle

    here’s a comment.

    April 11, 2006 at 6:24 am

  6. Hi Matt

    Just like night my wife and I were reading Ps 37 – commit your ways unto the Lord…

    Such a simple act of passing our cares across in prayer has such a profound response from the Lord! Praise God that you got the job, greater praise to Him that he is opening your ears wider to hear more and more 🙂

    April 12, 2006 at 4:33 am

  7. Congrats on your new job. Be thankful for your blessings

    May 23, 2006 at 6:20 pm

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