I had always believed and said to people that God was at the center of my life.
Only, I realize now that for most of my adult life, that was mostly just lip-service.
Yes, I would go to Mass every Sunday, quickly pray before sleeping (especially when I needed something), and always tried to do the right thing. Me and God were “good,” I thought.
In the meantime, the decisions I made in my life never involved Him. I would go from job to job never thinking about what God would want from me. I formed relationships in my life with nary a thought on faith. I had always been fiercely independent, leaving my parents’ house to forge my own path as soon as I could’ve. This would partly explain why decision after decision would involve only what I alone felt and thought. I would buy what I want, spend my time doing what I wanted, did what I want. It wasn’t really God who was at the center of my life, eh?
Not that I thought there was anything wrong with how I was doing things. This was no prodigal son story, right? I mean, I wasn’t really doing anything inherently wrong. But when I think of it, I ended up straying from the right path anyway. I was so intent on following my own way I just went around in circles. I conquered my corporate professional dreams, but felt empty. Left to my own devices, I found myself alone, frustrated, and confused. No, I wasn’t leading a ruinous life. I was, however, leading a mediocre one.
In some ways, I think this can even be more dangerous because mediocrity tends to subtly creep up on you. I can see how some people would only realize one’s presence in the mediocrity mire after decades have gone by – but you can even chalk up this late realization as a blessing. Some people never get it.
I guess life phase-triggered crises occur when we realize that the decisions we have made has resulted in a life that’s missing something, and existential desperation sets in. You can call it a search for meaning, or purpose, or pagmemeron, or saysay, or happiness, or joy, or peace, or even searching for yourself.
All along though, I realized I was searching for God. My infinite hole could only be filled by something, someone infinite.
It was only a few years ago that I truly, fully realized this. It was when my heart caught up with my head. So I resolved not to waste any more time. (why do we waste so much time?)
I had always heard holy people on TV say repetitively “Do you have a personal relationship with God?!” It was only recently that I truly understood this.
If I talked all the time with my close friends, got to know them better, and read their updates, I figured I would do the same thing with God. I endeavored to talk to God everyday during prayer, get to know Him more, and read His teachings.
I endeavored to make Him the center of my life. As in REALLY make Him the center of everything in my life.
This of course, includes career choices.
At first I thought, huh? Really? Careers and God don’t seem to mix. I had never encountered God in the corporations I had been in, save perhaps for the obligatory prayer said before Christmas parties. No one has ever told me to “pray,” when I asked for career advice.
But aren’t “careers” so inextricably linked to WHY GOD PUT US HERE ON EARTH?
God uniquely made each of us, endowed us with a specific set of gifts, for a purpose. And you know what? I bet that if you just find that purpose, more than anything, it would make you incredibly happy. So I prayed to God fervently to lead me to that purpose.
My big mouth.
One day, I found myself in a very difficult career decision point (detailed here) that put everything that I had resolved to do for Him against everything I held dear. It was one of the two most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to do.
In my gut, I knew it was a seminal moment. The decision I made here will determine how the rest of my life would unravel. To the world, it was a blatantly clear decision. To my God, it was a clear decision as well: Take the leap. I will take care of you.
It took guts which I didn’t have, but I took the leap no other career advisor would have recommended.
It was difficult going through that process, but God showed me a career path I never would have thought of in a million years – building startups. And oh boy, I can’t tell you how wonderful the fit is between what I do and who I am. In finding God, I had found myself.
Another interesting side effect is that my life was suddenly integrated. You see, before I would live a life divided into silos. I had my life at work, my family life, my love life, my life with my friends, and so forth. I noticed I was a different person in each silo. So during the times when worlds collided, I would feel very uncomfortable at the risk of being “discovered.” I don’t know if this makes sense to you. I didn’t do anything wrong, but I was projecting a different self, probably because I was trying to live in accordance to what each “world” expected of me. This has all changed. I am now one person. I feel integrated, complete. And the necessary foundation for this was and is, God.
A couple of weeks back, I posted this on a particular online forum. I was told by a reader that he had trouble believing how faith can determine the success and failure of a business endeavor. Friends, my whole happiness with where I am career-wise is a result of my faith and nothing else. The whole “business endeavor” would not even have existed if God had not intervened.
Not only can faith and work mix, but I would posit that NOT doing so would lead to something incomplete. The easiest, most direct way to find yourself is through God.
Of course, you can always do something part-time for God, like build houses, or help street kids, and stuff. This is all good, right? Think about that phrase though: part-time for God.
Hey God, you are my everything! I would give PART of my time to you!
Why not the alternative? I mean, you don’t necessarily have to be a priest or something, right? Why not be a full-time politician for God? An full-time entrepreneur for God? A full-time lawyer for God? A full-time website designer for God? The important thing is you follow that voice which calls within. Then you can still build houses and minister to street children in your spare time.
So, how exactly do you know what God wills for you? Three quick suggestions: One, it would help if you TALK to Him for starters, right?! Take a designated 30 minutes (say, 6:00am-6:30am) of your morning to pray. Everyday. Can’t overemphasize this. Second, search within yourself for your DEEPEST desires. I can guarantee it isn’t money. Our deepest, most intimate desires were put there by God. He sometimes can talk to us through our desires. Third, notice what sort of work you do makes time speed up remarkably fast. Notice what work you do brings you complete joy that you can do it for free, that you would PAY someone for you to do it. What did God put in your DNA?
Be warned though, that oftentimes in your journey, you will find that there will be a conflict arising between what God wants and what can bring in money.
So is following God truly strategic then?
It will depend on what you determine to be your ultimate end goal is.