What do you do when you need career direction and you don’t know where to start? Woman Alive’s Deputy Editor, Jemimah Wright, shares her experience in finding her vocation without a clear path to follow.
When I was a teenager, the idea of getting a job, and having a career seemed a responsible and important thing to nail. I decided to get one-step ahead of the game, and studied publishing and history at university, mainly so I could then go into publishing.
However, after graduating, I got a job in publishing, and I hated it. It was academic publishing, so probably not my genre, and as I had just started I was at the lowest end of the pecking order, my mundane jobs accounted to shuffling paper around and answering emails. I was grateful for a job, but it was mind numbingly boring.
I cried out to God to guide me, but all I heard back was silence.
My friends were teachers and nurses, people called to their professions and making a difference in people’s lives every day. I was doing a job I hated, and with no sense of what I should be doing, or even what I wanted to do.
My future loomed ahead of me, without hope or inspiration, but deep down I knew God had a plan and a purpose for me. I just didn’t know what it was.
Eventually I felt God speak. He said, ‘Will you serve me anyway, even if I don’t give you this big vision and calling?’ I was reminded of the words of Simon Peter in John 6:68 “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.’
Where else could I go? I knew He was God, and He was good. So I said, ‘Yes.’
Not long after I was made redundant from my job.
They told me in the April the job was ending the following December.
‘What shall I do?’ I cried out to God.
People would helpfully tell me, ‘God can steer a moving ship.’ I just didn’t know what ship to get on.
However, at the back of my mind I had a thought, that if money was not an issue, I wanted to go to South Africa to look after AIDS orphans.
I don’t know where the idea came from, but it would not go away. I told myself it was irresponsible and I needed to be a grown up and get a proper job. But then I read James 1:27 ‘Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…’
If that was what my Father in heaven was asking me, then I would go.
I moved to South Africa when I was 24, open and willing to be there forever, but very soon I realised I was working myself out of a job in the township, and nothing else was opening up. After six months, as I was driving home one day, a thought popped into my head, ‘be a freelance journalist’. I suddenly had vision for journalism, where previously I had seen it as a ‘dodgy’ profession. I saw how you could be a voice for those who were not heard. I saw how you could make a difference, and I realised it probably was my area of gifting.
I returned to England, did a journalism course, and after working for a press agency, became a freelance journalist. What struck me is the verse in Matthew 6:33 ‘But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.’
As I put God’s kingdom first, He opened up the way ahead of me. He opened doors for me to travel the world writing biographies. If in all those years of not knowing what to do, if I had written down my dream job, I would never have known that it was possible to do what I ended up doing and loving.
The same thing happened about ten years later. I was at a career crossroads, I was not sure of the way ahead, but I was convicted by the story in Matthew 25 - where the king says to those who looked after the poor, and visited prisoners, ‘whatever you did for the least of these, you did for me.’ So I made the jump to go to Hong Kong for six months and work with drug addicts. As I took time out to serve others, God spoke to me about my next steps, and opened up the way to return to London, providing me with a job in the charity sector that was a real blessing to me.
This isn’t a formular, but it’s a reminder that God knows you. It may take longer than you expect to find your ‘career’, but God will direct your steps as you put Him first. If you are at a crossroads today and have no clear sense of what to do for a job, I would encourage you to seek first His kingdom, and watch to see what He does in your heart, and in your circumstances.