Career Limiting Move

Many years ago now a friend of a friend helped me get a job doing contract work for an exciting company doing training and team building programs. Many of my fellow employees were active in churches which made for some fairly profound conversations driving to and from programs.I loved the work and corporate culture, I was consistently affirmed as being a valued member of the teams I worked with, and I was imagining the possibilities of moving into more steady and significant roles. Then I asked the wrong question. After a particularly challenging event one day a bunch of us were traveling together back to the office and one colleague was sharing with m some of the important aspects of her life story. At one point she used the phrase “God told me…” to explain a decision she had made that some people might find somewhat controversial. Perhaps assuming to much, I interrupted her and asked her to tell me how God had communicated to her. What was the experience like? How did she know it was God? It was clear she didn’t appreciate the question at the time, and became even more clear the next time I was in the office when I was called in to meet with a senior person in the company who informed me in no uncertain manner that I had greatly offended this coworker, who also happened to be his spouse. I tried to explain that I wasn’t challenging her experience, just sincerely wanting to understand what was behind the seemingly simple, but truly powerful claim the “God told me…” I didn’t get fired or have any direct problems as a result, but it did seem that some of the behind the scenes support I had been receiving dried up. It’s been many years and I don’t regret that things didn’t work out with that company. I still have good relationships with many former colleagues and would encourage anyone to consider them for a program. But I still think back to the conversation that day in the van and wonder what really happened. It frustrates me that those of us who identify ourselves as Christians have developed a language to explain our faith that is inaccessible to others. More than that, it bugs me that we aren’t willing or able to give a simple explanation or description to those wonderful moments when we truly believe God has communicated with us. It’s not criticism to ask how we know that God told us, it’s an opportunity to share one of the most profound and powerful things any human being could ever claim to experience. And yet we react defensively. Recent blogs by Rachel Held Evans and Fred Smith add more to this conversation than I can. Read them. And please, if you ever believe God has guided your life, remember 1 Peter 3:15 and be ready to explain what happened.