30 January, 2013

You just never know what you're going to use

This week I've been putting together our monthly prayer/news letter. The way I do it, is more a mini magazine or newspaper style, rather than a long letter. There are different "articles" or "columns". (Why am I a little surprised that I've ended up a real magazine editor, I've been doing this style of news/prayer letter 11 times a year for more than 12 years now?) In any case, my husband writes a "column" every time called "Spotlight on CAJ". Yesterday he wrote this:
My grade 12 students are currently wrestling with thoughts about life after high school. They are looking forward with a mix of excitement and concern. They think it will be good to be out in the wide world, but they are not sure what that means. Just today, the discussion centred on how much more education do they need? I wonder the same myself. There are literally millions of people in the world who don’t have a high school education, let alone a tertiary one, and they are doing just fine. 
So how do we help our students figure out where to go from here? I believe that through helping students discover and develop their gifts, we also help them discern God’s leading. It seems logical that if they are good at maths, or English, or music, or sport, or art, then that indicates a starting point. Try applying to a university that will teach them more, or a ministry training course that will prepare them. If God wants them to use that gift, then He will open doors that way.
It may be that they have to start something to find out it does not work for them, but I believe that is part of God’s work as well.
Please pray that God would make His desires clear to our students. They all show potential to serve Him, whatever their gifts.
As I pondered what I'd write here today (while I worked out at Curves, no less), these words came to mind. I'm more than twice the age of the students David is talking about here, so I have the luxury of looking back and seeing how God has used various gifts and learnt-skills in my life.

Here's a list

  • This week I used my Occupational Therapy (OT) skills to assess a student and give the parent's advice.
  • My experience as a parent of my particular boys gave my OT advice more content and wisdom than I could have done as a single 22 year old.
  • I learnt the piano from the age of 4 until I left school. That skill has enabled me to help people worship on numerous occasions over the years. It is also now helping me supervise my youngest son as he learns the piano.
  • Later in life God gave me experience in writing and editing other people's writing. That's now transferred into a significant ministry as a managing editor of a magazine.
  • My mum taught me how to cook. I learnt at her feet, from the days when all I could do was lick the bowl, she allowed me into the kitchen. Now, I'm feeding a small tribe of growing boys, and enjoying the challenge (for the most part).
  • Mum also taught me how to sew (along with my home ec. teacher plus one other short course one summer). I'm no great seamstress, but can do some basics that helps when one's raising a family on a tightish budget.
Then I think of a list of things that learning some of the above taught me:
  • Persevering at piano all those years taught me to stick at something. To work at it and you gradually see progress.
  • Occupational Therapy gave me many skills that I can hardly articulate because I've internalised so many. The way I approach parenting and life in general is shaped, in part, by my OT training.
  • My first job as an OT taught me a lot about taking initiative, balancing many vastly different priorities, and being able to be productive without having someone looking over my shoulder. All skills that I'm using to this day.
And then I think of some of the things that I tried or enjoyed, but didn't go on with (for various reasons):
  • athletics (or track, as Americans seem wont to say)
  • maths and science
  • history
  • youth group/camp leadership
  • English teaching
  • acting in a musical
  • choir
I'm sure that each of these endeavours taught me things too, even if it was, "This isn't really for you." 

Now what do I conclude? 
  1. I'm grateful for all the things God has given me opportunity to try or learn during my life so far. 
  2. You never know what you try that God will later use.
  3. Even if you don't end up using whatever it is that you've tried, you'll can learn life lessons from that experience.


Remya said...

Wendy, it was very encouraging to read this post, especially as I pray and plan for my future. Remya

KarenKTeachCamb said...

Well said Wendy! God uses all our experiences in different ways. Throughout my school years my one goal was to be a primary school teacher. In 12th grade some "guidance counsellor" told me I was too smart to be a primary school teacher and should go to university. My TE score wasn't high enough to do Physio, OT, or Speech Therapy and I ended up doing a year of Applied Chemistry before dropping out and working in retail for almost 3 years (including management training). I then worked in libraries, got my B. Bus. Comm. with a PR major and moved into admin and commuications. Then I moved into data management, tried my hand a volunteer coordination, and then working in research ethics and scholarship admin. Sometime during my data management career God led me to do a short term mission trip, and from there He finally led me to primary school teaching in an international setting. There were ups and downs along the way, but God continues to use all those experiences. Some of the skills are getting a bit rusty these days, but who knows when God might need me to use them again.

I think one of the great things about living in the 21st century is that we do have the freedom to change careers as God leads.

Having just celebrated another birthday tends to make me a little thoughtful. I remember my 21st birthday. If anyone had told me then that before I was 50 I'd have worked in a heap of different jobs including primary school teaching overseas I wouldn't have believed them. Isn't God awesome how He unfolds His plan one step at a time, in His time!