my career discernment process

i’m going to post in the next few days (or week) what i’m planning to do for 2010. but i thought i’d start by sharing the process i went through to figure it out.

let’s back up to december of 2008. i’ve blogged about this before, but in mid-december, a year ago, i found out i had to lead ys through a major downsizing. in that meeting, i misunderstood some things my boss said to me, and thought she had said i should resign. in the midst of thinking of the ys stuff, this put me into somewhat of an identity crisis. i realized that “who i am” and “what i do” were too enmeshed, and that i couldn’t even fathom the possibility of a non-ys life. in hindsight, this was a massive gift from god, because it launched me into a process of seeking, clarifying, thinking and discerning.

by mid-year, 2009, i was more comfortable with the notion that there might be a life for me outside of my role at ys; but i was still actively pushing away thoughts of what that could possibly be. i brought this up at one of my monthly leadership coaching sessions with dr. john townsend, and he gave me the counter-intuitive input that i needed to address what i could do square on, so that i could set it aside and focus on my current role. as a result, in june, i spent a good deal of time processing what kinds of jobs/roles might give me life. at that time, i came up with four buckets:
– something where i could leverage my passion for and knowledge of teenagers
– something involving social media and the internet
– a ceo (or other exec) role in a business that i could, in some way, tie off to my understanding of the gospel
– and, while i thought it wasn’t as likely, a role in a church

and i did set these aside, until october, when i was let go.

since i had the cushion of severance, i knew i needed to lay low and not dive into a job search immediately. that first month was so nuts in terms of my own anxiety, loss and hurt, that i could barely breathe, let alone discern. i had a few soft inquiries right away, which, at least, made me feel like less of a failure (“at least someone might want me”). and my time in the desert (that was a literal desert, btw), provided a good deal more clarity about what i am and am not called to.

i entered into my second month of unemployment sensing a handful of things:
1. i am called to the church. i have sensed a renewed passion and calling to help the american church and the global church. but, as i’ve sat with a few soft offers from individual churches, i do not sense that god is calling me (at this time) to “employment” in one church.
2. i don’t want to do the corporate ceo thing, or the internet thing
3. i sense god’s calling to encourage and influence, but i really don’t sense a big need to have a public platform
4. i am more and more drawn to helping in areas that have global influence, and that will make a difference for people with less resources and opportunity
5. i still love youth workers, and i think i would lose something of myself if i don’t have an avenue for engagement on that level

with that in mind, i put together a list of a dozen people i wanted to have conversations with. i called it my “career discernment list”, because i really do see this as an act of spiritual discernment. the list was a wide variety of people i thought would be willing to have a conversation with me, but who might have something to say about the kind of work i was feeling pulled to. i started having these conversations in early december, and have taken lots of notes on every one. my questions have continued to morph as i have more input and more clarity. and the list has swollen, also, to about 25. as i write this, there are only two left on the list.

i’ve tried to prayerfully sit with the ideas that are slowly taking shape in my mind and heart. i’m paying close attention to my excitement and energy — kind of an ignation prayer of examin approach (though not with actual practice of these things, but with the ideas): as i consider options, which ones give me life, and which ones feel life-draining in some way.

and here i am in mid-january with an only-somewhat-pixilated picture, in my mind, of where god is leading me next, in terms of my work. the description of that i’ll leave for another post!

9 thoughts on “my career discernment process”

  1. Wow Marko. I’m excited to see where all this is going and what your next step is going to be. I have such respect for the way you have handled this whole thing.

    Thank you.

  2. Ummmm… am I the last one on that discernment list? because I don’t remember talking to you about this.

  3. Okay…for real? You are leaving me hanging like this? I’ve been praying for you on a weekly basis and all I get is a “the description of that I’ll leave for another post.” Thanks! Seriously though…I really can’t wait to see where God is leading you…no doubt friend you have been covered in the dust of our Rabbi these last few months…

  4. Great stuff dude.

    I hope you take a second to realize how fortunate you are to be able to work through all your strengths and desires and wirings and work to come up with some sort of career path.

    Lots and lots of people in the world have to just do a job that is doesn’t hit all their sweet spots…

    Blessings on the journey….

  5. As Steve the Monkey would say…. “Excited! Excited! Excited!”…
    Can’t wait to hear. I have a plan that involves lamb and cigars and hearing all about it!

  6. It’s good to know what was going through you head before you were let go, seems like a gift to me too.

    I also appreicate the buckets and the career discernment process.

    hmm, lamb and cigars. Can’t imagine that, but the patio’s got a foot of white stuff on it, so that’s probably roadblock for me for giving those a go.

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