Four Lessons I’ve Learned through a Major Life Change

The past year has been a roller coaster for my family. God had been working in my heart and mind for years about the direction of my career and the implications for my wife and kids. My calling is Christian education, and I don’t see that ever changing. However, I began to reconsider a move I made a few years back from teaching to administration.

I felt an inescapable desire to get back into the classroom—as a teacher and a student. I began to pray fervently about returning to a teaching position while also furthering my education. More than anything, I was intensely burdened with maximizing my fruitfulness for the kingdom of God.

Sparing the details of the year-and-a-half-long process, God has guided my family and me through a major life change. I now sit in a different house, in a different state, with a different job, heading down a different path. And I could not be more excited!

It has been said that the only constant in life is change. But, no matter the size or number of changes we face, it is good to know we serve a God who never changes.

God has taught me countless lessons through this process. The following are four that I hope will be helpful to share.

Lesson 1: The right thing at the wrong time is the wrong thing.

…or so our realtor told us.

We had to pass up on a house we really liked. We had to come to terms with reality. We were not in a position at that point to put an offer on any house—no matter how much we liked the floor plan. While it was a tough pill to swallow, it was a lesson that I had been learning for some time.

Going back to teaching was the right thing, but there were things I needed to accomplish as a vice principal. So, it was the wrong time. Pursuing a degree in apologetics was the right thing, but it was not financially feasible until recently. So, it was the wrong time. The job I found was the right thing, but it was too much change too quickly. So, it was the wrong time.

A year and a half ago, I found an amazing Christian school that had an opening for a high school Bible teacher. I applied and got a couple of interviews. However, as I mapped out what it would mean for my family, I realized we were not ready. As amazing of an opportunity as it was, it was the wrong time, therefore it was the wrong thing.

After about a year of continual prayer and preparation, I found that the position was still open. I applied again. I got the interviews again. The wrong thing became the right thing at the right time.

Just think of how often people in the Bible, which are eventually used by God in a great way, must go through a time of learning, struggling, and growing. Moses works as a shepherd. Jacob makes good on a bad employment contract. Jonah spends three days in a whale.

The reality was tough, but it was reality. Moses was not ready to lead. Jacob was not ready to receive his birthright. Jonah was not ready to preach. But, they would be ready in time.

God has taught me that I should seek his will not just in what I do, but also when I do it.

Lesson 2: The little steps I know impact the big steps I don’t know.

My family and I have taken a big step, the kind you (hopefully) only make a handful of times in life. There are countless questions that come with such a transition, and each one carries major consequences. I don’t know how many times my wife and I have asked ourselves, “What are we supposed to do?” But, it seems like most of the time the answer has been, “I don’t know.”

Nevertheless, there were a few things I did know.

I knew that we were supposed to commit what we were doing to the Lord, and in doing so our plans would be established (Proverbs 16:3). I knew that we were supposed to ask God for wisdom when we found ourselves lacking it, and God would be happy to give it (James 1:5). I knew that as unclear as each next step seemed, there were clear commandments of God to be obeyed throughout the process. (1 Corinthians 7:19).

Every day for the past year, I woke up not knowing what major change the day would bring. However, every day I was comforted with the reality that God never changes. So, I did the things I knew to do, small though they were.

Just think how James and John were so concerned about where they would be seated in Heaven that they totally missed how they were supposed to serve before they got there (Matthew 20:20-28). In doing so, they sort of missed the point. Jesus came, not to be served, but to serve. He was sending them to do the same. For them, greatness would be found in service, because in service they would find Christlikeness. 

God has taught me that the small steps that bring me closer to him are just as important as the big steps that take me further in his will.

Lesson 3: God will not be replaced by his blessings.

I found an amazing teaching job, the best opportunity I had come across. In my first interview, the hiring principal held up a stack of over a hundred applications to let me know where I stood. I gave the best interview I could and waited. I got the call back. The stack of a hundred plus dwindled to five, and I was still being considered. After another round of interviews, it went from five to two, and I was still in the running.

However, at some point in the process, I got tunnel vision. This job was it. The place, the school, the position—it was all what I had been praying for, and God had answered! Getting this job became the most important thing in my life. This job would be the solution to all my problems. This job would be the thing that made me complete. I simply could not see my future without this job!

Then the call came. They went with the other guy. Door closed. End of story.

In the type of irony that only God could orchestrate, around that time I was teaching in my church about—wait for it—idolatry. I had shown my class where the Bible teaches us that our hearts are idol factories. I had taught that what makes an idol is not the materials with which it is made, but the place it is given in our lives. I repeatedly taught that the most sinister thing about idolatry is that we often make idols out of good things God has given. I warned that God will not tolerate being replaced by his blessings. The entire time, I was living my lessons.

I realized that God will not use a person in whose heart he does not reign.

I prayed. I fasted. I repented. I moved on. God showed me in a deeply personal way that no job could be the answer to my problems—but he could be. No job would be the thing that made me complete—but he would be. No job should be the center of my life—but he should be.

A couple of weeks later, I got another call. It was the principal asking if I was still interested in the job. With all the humility I could muster, I accepted.

Just think how Abraham, after waiting for decades, finally received God’s blessing in his son Isaac. Soon after, God commands Abraham to give him up. As difficult as it had to have been, Abraham was willing to obey. Not because he loved Isaac less, but because he trusted God more. Abraham knew that God’s blessing is only a blessing when God remains on the throne of our lives.

God has taught me that if he is going to do anything through me, he must be the most important thing to me.

If God is going to do anything through me, he must be the most important thing to me.

Lesson 4: Seeking God’s will is more about confidence than about certainty.

Moving is hard! There are so many details. So many questions. So much uncertainty.

From the job search to home shopping, these are the times you would want to be the most certain about your decisions. However, after all the research and consideration, mulling over every detail we could cover, my wife and I still found ourselves asking, “Are you sure?” Too often we found ourselves answering, “No.

Oh, and did I mention that in the middle of the entire process, this small matter of a pandemic happened. So, there was that. It’s hard to be certain about anything when everyone is living in “uncertain times.”

I suppose we all value certainty. When making decisions, everyone wants to move forward without a shadow of a doubt. But, when is that possible, if ever?

For the past year, I have woken up not knowing what uncertainty the day would bring, what document I had forgotten to sign, conflict I had overlooked, or requirement I did not know about. 

I had very little certainty. But, I have learned of something better—confidence.

In life, shadows of doubt are cast by corners that you can’t see around. You don’t know what lies ahead. You can’t. You can, however, trust the one who is telling you to make the turn.

God knows what is around the next corner because he’s the one who put it there. So, we proceed, not with certainty as to what we will find, but in confidence in God’s ability to map out a path that will lead us to himself.

Just think how often in the Bible God calls people to a task, and about the only information they have to go on is that it is what God wants. Abraham was sent away from a place where he was certain of everything to a place where he was certain of nothing. Gideon was sent to battle uncertain of how many men he would even have with him to fight. Nearly every task the disciples carried out for Jesus, they did so uncertain of what their Master was doing.

God knows what is around the next corner because he is the one who put it there.

But, the people of God live by faith, not by sight. We move forward with faith—in Latin con fide. Our confidence does not come from our ability to foresee our path. It comes from trusting the author and finisher of our faith.

God has taught me that confidence in him who never changes is infinitely better than certainty in situations that always change.


As my family and I begin this new chapter in our lives, we are overwhelmed by how God has guided and provided.

Here’s the thing…

He will do the same for you! I do not know where you are in life right now. However, for every twist and turn God places in our way, he promises to give the wisdom, mercy, and grace we need. Great is his faithfulness!


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What’s a Student to Do?

COVID-19…social distancing…quarantine…

These are all words that we seldom, if ever, heard before a couple of weeks ago. Now we see and hear them several times a day. The fact is, we have never seen anything like this before. The spread of the Coronavirus is the type of event that will be in future editions of history textbooks.

We are going through a season when everyone’s pattern of life is being disrupted. Events cancelled, businesses closed, schedules trashed. We are having to find a different way to do just about everything.

Most adults have worked from home before, just not for this extended amount of time. It is unusual, but not entirely unfamiliar.

This is uncharted territory for most students. They have never done school from home. High school students are having to learn geometry with their teachers as a distance. College students are having to write papers with libraries closed. Even homeschoolers are now confined to home, no doubt more than they prefer.

So, with the world turned upside down, and everyone confined to their homes, what is a student to do?

Here’s the thing…

Many have pointed “blessings in disguise” that we can find if only we look. For students, this moment presents unique opportunities for growth. I would suggest three.

1. Read

With the extra time you have on your hands, tolle lege! Read a book…or several.

You may be one who thinks they hate reading. I understand. Reading is not easy, but it can be worth it. You probably just haven’t found a book written well enough or about a topic important enough to make it worth your effort. So, by all means, keep looking.

You may be one who loves to read. I understand. Reading is great, but it can also be a waste of time. You may not have found a book written well enough or a topic challenging enough to test your mind. So, by all means, keep looking.

During this quarantine, you have a unique opportunity. You can read, not just to earn a grade, but to learn a lesson. You know the difference! You can read, not just for enjoyment, but improvement. Not that the two are mutually exclusive.

Closed bookstores and libraries shouldn’t be problem. We live in the digital age! Load up Kindle on whatever device you prefer and dive in!

If expense is a concern, there are plenty of other options. You would be amazed at how much is available online for free. Amazon.com will let you “Look inside” and read part of a book, several chapters in some books. Then you will be able to decide if it is worth purchasing.

Depending on how old or popular a book is, not to mention copyrights, you may be able to find a PDF version to save to your preferred reading platform. The PDF section of my Kindle library is full of classics that I have found online for free.

One of my favorite tools is Hoopla, a platform for digital content from public libraries. The app can be downloaded on any device and offers access with only a library card number (which you can also get online if you don’t have one yet).

Suggestions? Of course! Here are several books for students that immediately come to my mind (affiliate links below):

(For more specific book recommendations, contact me on Instagram, Twitter, or in the comments section below.)

And if I could be so bold as to suggest one more book to read during this season of social distancing: the Bible. All sarcasm aside. I have already heard from several of my students that one of the blessings in disguise of what we are experiencing is that they have been able to spend more time in God’s Word.  

2. Observe

Students have a particularly unique opportunity during the quarantine to observe their parents as they never have. Many parents are being forced to work from home. So, now you have the chance to see them in action.

Generations ago, children observed their parents at work on a regular basis, whether it was on the family farm or a family-owned business. In fact, children often participated in the work. Then our country industrialized, and many parents began working away from home where children no longer could observe, much less participate.

Senator Ben Sasse describes it this way:  

“Today’s children are likely to conceive of work as one job, and yet less likely to work the same job as their parents—such as on a family farm or ranch or in the same trade—than ever before. They no longer see up close a broad range of their parents’ work struggles, and they do not daily observe their parents’ work ethic the way their great-grandparents did. Most kids’ hours are spent chiefly in age-segregated environments.”

I am not against industrialization, but I think our culture lost a lot when children lost the opportunity to see the work their parents put in day after day to provide for their families.

Well, guess what, in all the weirdness of this moment, you have regained that opportunity!

Take this time to observe your parents at work while at home. Ask them questions. What does their daily routine look like? What are the products and services they provide? What are their customers like? How many meetings do they attend? What is the most frustrating thing about their job? What is the most rewarding thing about their job?

When you get a front-row glimpse of what your parents’ work requires of them, you will more than likely get a whole new level of appreciation for them. You and your family will be all the better for it. And, who knows, maybe you will get some guidance toward your own vocation.

Take advantage of this blessing in disguise. You get to observe what your parents do to give you the life you enjoy. Watch and learn.

3. Build

The type of habits that make a person successful in life do not happen by accident. They are built.

What time did you wake up this morning? Or possibly, this afternoon? For many students, the morning is something that happens to them. However, you have an opportunity during this time at home to build patterns and habits into your life that will enable you to get up each morning and seize the day.

John C. Maxwell, author of dozens of books on leadership, says, “The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” Your daily routine is simply the series of positive habits that builds you into the person you ought to be. In other words, building good habits builds you.

They say it takes 21 days to form a habit. Well, guess what? You have time!

I would suggest that you focus on your morning. I have found personally, and in conversation with many others, that the day is often won or lost in the first couple of hours. At least the rhythm for the day is set by then.

You will be amazed at how a morning routine reduces your stress, clears your mind, and maximizes your energy.

I don’t know what your regular morning looks like. Perhaps, you already have a set routine. However, I would strongly recommend that at least three features be a part of your morning.

Solitude

Social media is great for many reasons, especially during this time of quarantine. However, it shouldn’t be the first thing you concern yourself with in the day. The first thing you set your eyes on each morning should not be a filtered and posed picture of someone else.

My advice would be to practice solitude by avoiding social media first thing in the morning. Instead, work more healthy habits into your morning.  

Prayer

Prayer offers so much more than the mindfulness practices that are so popular today. Prayer is more than meditation: it is communication with God. Prayer does more than focus your mind: it directs your heart. Prayer does more than bring clarity: it brings you into the presence of God to live your day by his grace and for his glory.

My advice would be to begin each day praying for your day, expressing your dependence on God for a good day.

Scripture

One of my favorite metaphors in the Bible is in James 1:22-25. James compares the Bible to a mirror. I would dare say most of us would not go through our day without looking at a mirror and doing something about the mess we see. It is infinitely more important that we look into God’s Word, the mirror of our lives, and put to practice what it teaches.

My advice would be to spend a substantial part of your morning reading the Bible and finding some command to obey, correction to make, truth to ponder, or promise to claim.

Each of these no doubt deserves a discussion/blog post by themselves. Nevertheless, they are worth the effort to work into your morning, as is building a morning routine in general. The best part is, because of the quarantine, you are currently able to build a morning routine without waking up that early! Talk about a blessing in disguise.

For many students, this quarantine will be an inconvenience of boredom instead of an opportunity for growth. They will spend more time admiring other people than examining themselves. It will be a time of amusement instead of a time for improvement.

Which will it be for you?