“What have you failed at recently?”~Dave Ramsey
When I first saw the above question posed on social media, it caught me off guard. As if failing was a good thing! But why would failure be a good thing? The answer is simple: If we are not sometimes failing then we are not taking risks. A risk-free life is a life of unrealized potential. A failed life. Fear is one of our main barriers preventing us from taking risks in life.
Many of us harbor desires and dreams in our own minds and hearts about the kind of work we would do if we could do anything. But few actually take any meaningful steps to accomplish those dreams. The vast majority, even while wishing to be doing something they enjoy, spend their years in merely tolerable jobs, never moving closer to realizing their fullest potential. Most people choose the slow torture of a job they hate, or at best tolerate, continuing to age along in their life.
Why do people choose to suffer in this way? Yes they may gain a sizable retirement account, and there is certainly great value in the daily plodding of faithfulness in one place over many years and decades if that is what the Lord has called you to. But so many of us are hiding behind a mundane job at the costly expense of suppressing the gifting and calling The Lord placed within us. Is there any reason for us to believe that we should enjoy our work? Do the deeply suppressed dreams within ourselves bear any legitimacy? If you love your work then keep crushing! But many of us have given up on the idea that we could do work we enjoy.
Let me be clear. As a Post-millenialist Christian, I believe all work is God-glorifying. I am not saying that working a job you hate is inherently wrong or sinful. In fact, I have spent much of my life struggling through jobs that I did not enjoy but taught me valuable skills. There is a place for that in life, especially when you are a young man. But God has planted within each man a mission, a calling, a set of skills and giftings. And it is our job to work hard to figure out what good works He has planned for us, and boldly step out in faith to accomplish them.
In Ephesians 2:10, when discussing the salvation and work that God has done in us in Christ Jesus, Paul writes, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Before I discovered the biblical eschatology of Post-Millenialism- something about which I am still learning- I interpreted Paul’s words to be primarily referring to invisible, spiritual things. But now I believe that the good works which God has prepared for us to walk in should be applied to all of life, including the kind of work we pursue.
Maybe you don’t need to be convinced that the desires, strengths, and giftings within you are from the Lord. But you are still not pursuing them. Why not? What excuses have you prepared to explain why you are neglecting the good works which God has prepared beforehand for you to walk in? I would argue that if we really drilled down deep, most of your reasons could be boiled down to one thing: fear. You are afraid of something. There are a lot of things to be afraid of when considering stepping out and trying to find a way to be productive and glorify God with your gifts. In future posts I will write about each of the possible things we are prone to fear and give some tips about how to overcome those fears. The remainder of this post will address the fear of failing financially.
The Fear of Failing Financially
If you are like most men, you may feel hindered by your fear of financial ruin if you were to leave your current job to pursue a job that better fits your strengths and passions. You may fear that it will require all your hard-earned savings or maybe that the endeavor you pursue will take so long to monetize that it will cause financial ruin while you are pursuing success. All of these are wise things to consider. But they are not without solutions.
I often tell my children that when we are afraid of something what is often going on is that we are believing a lie instead of truth. As Christians we truly have nothing to fear because we serve the Living God and King of Kings. He is the sovereign and omnipotent One. Our worse fears pale in comparison to the eternal hope secured for us who are in Christ. However, sometimes we still need practical steps to help guard us against our fears. One approach to guarding against such fear as we move toward pursuing our dreams is to take incremental steps. Instead of leaving your job outright, it can be wise to begin pursuing your dreams as a side hustle, gradually developing it into a growing income that can sustain your family over time. This could take 6 months or it might take 3 years. It all depends on what type of work it is, your vision for it, and how much of your resources you are able to give to the project. This approach will test the genuineness of your interest in such an endeavor without costing you your current career. In his book, Durable Trades (see https://thegrovestead.com), Rory Groves suggests that while we may not be able to drop everything and leave our current job to pursue other interests, we certainly can begin the process of picking one or two interests with our wife and children at our side and begin the process of learning some new skills over time. While this approach may be necessary for many, some people need to consider making a hard break from their current job.
Build Multiple Income Streams
While gradually building your dream job as a side hustle may be a good approach for some, others may feel the need for various reasons to make a hard break away from their current job. If this is you, one way to guard against financial struggles is to set up multiple income streams. By doing this, you are insulating yourself from major problems if one income stream does not work out. There all kinds of ways you can do this. I am doing this right now while I grow my Inspired Resolve motivational business. I teach part time for an online Christian school; I work as a Realtor helping people buy and sell homes (something I have done for the past 8 years); I drive for the Lyft ride-sharing app; and my family and I are working on growing our property into a productive working small farm. We recently purchased 18 chicks that will be laying eggs soon. We hope to sell the eggs for a small profit to our household. Other things I have heard of people doing are running an e-commerce store, tutoring, teaching music lessons, buying and selling things on social media or eBay, editing/proofreading, or building websites for people. If you have multiple income streams flowing into your household that are not too time-consuming, you will be able to be freed up to pursue your dream job around those other projects as well. One word of caution for this approach is to not commit yourself so much to side income streams that you have no time to work on your dream job.
One of the best ways to put yourself in a position of success with your career goals is to talk to people. Find people who have figured things out already and are doing well in the type of work you want to be doing and ask to talk to them. Offer to buy them lunch or a coffee and prepare them that you will be asking them a lot of questions about how they got to where they are today. Bring a notebook and take notes about your conversation. Ask if you can meet them to shadow them or watch them work. I know a man who left a career as a corporate trainer. He had a passion for making useful and beautiful things out of reclaimed wood. He opened a small store front in a growing small town, stocked his store with wood material and things that others and he and his staff have made out of reclaimed wood, installed a wood shop in the store, and hired staff. His business is doing very well. If you have a passion for wood working, you could walk into his store, introduce yourself, and ask to meet for lunch to learn how he got to where he is today. He has paved the way for you. He learned mistakes along the way that often times guys like him are ready and willing to share with others. You will find that most people love sharing their story and the lessons they have learned along the way.
The Key: Move Forward
While there are many reasons one can give to stay where you are and never move to pursue your dreams, we are called to something greater. The Lord created you with a purpose in mind. He carefully and lovingly made you with certain skills, strengths, desires, and passions. We have a responsibility to cultivate those into long term meaningful work that brings glory to God. Take time to pray about and consider how you should move forward to honor God with the gifts He has given you to bring Him honor and glory.