When I started working at the bookstore as a part time cashier in the fall of 1994, I considered it to be a good job that would help me pay my way through college. After I dropped out of college, I put all my focus toward excelling at the bookstore so that I could get as much experience as possible until I figured out what I wanted to be now that I was growing up. At some point along the journey, I realized that the bookstore was a great place to make a career.
The company had (and still has) a lot to love. They company and I shared a lot of the same values, it had a very good retirement plan, good health insurance, I earned a very nice annual bonus, I earned a very nice salary, I got to meet many interesting authors and musicians, and nearly all the people at the company were wonderful. I was going to be there for 40+ years and eventually retire.
Now, seventeen years into that journey, everything changed. I knew I wouldn’t be staying at the bookstore, but I had no idea what I would do. But now figuring out my next career path was consuming much of my thoughts. The more I thought about it, I realized that all of my favorite ideas centered around becoming an entrepreneur. This was a shocking epiphany for me because I could recall several moments in my life up to that point where I’d looked at entrepreneurs and thought there was no way I’d ever WANT to do that. It wasn’t that I didn’t think I COULD do it, I just simply never had any desire to start my own business. That had now changed. The only question to answer was what it was I would do.
I approached this dilemma much like I did when my old boss asked me what I wanted to do and told me to go get the education necessary to do it. I began evaluating my skills and my enjoyment from exercising all of those skills. Obviously, I knew a thing or two about building websites and SEO, so my first thought was to start a company that worked to build websites for small businesses. So in 2012 I started a company called Dramatic Traffic. I found a local business that allowed me to come in and teach on the subject, and I joined a local networking group.
It didn’t take long to find my first few clients. However, I quickly learned that I really enjoyed making websites for myself where I had full creative control, and I did not like building websites for others. I was really surprised by this. Each of my clients were very happy with their websites. But I really didn’t like them at all. I thought that it was probably something I could get over, but it showed me that I should probably keep looking for my next career path. Fortunately, I hadn’t quit my day job yet.
It was about this time that I was really struggling with guilt and turmoil. I hated going to work everyday. My attitude there was not good. I really wasn’t taking pride in my work any longer. I still did a good job, but I just did what was necessary to maintain things. My countenance was downtrodden. I thought I was hiding it, but after a few people called me out on it, I knew I wasn’t hiding it well. But that’s why I felt guilty! I just listed all the wonderful benefits from working at this company. I mean, most people would be thrilled to have a job at a place like I described. Put differently, I had what many would consider a dream job, and here I was wishing every day that I could leave it. And for that reason, I battled guilt.
Remember my story earlier this season when God told me to go to Yemen…I mean, Lubbock? I said then that there were two times in my life when I felt like God was speaking directly to me. Here’s that second instance. One Sunday in November of 2012 my pastor preached a sermon, and at one point he quoted from the book of James that says, “You do not have, because you do not ask.” I felt in my heart that I should be honest with God in prayer and ask Him directly for what I wanted. No. I have a dream job. To do so would be ungrateful.
The next day while listening to the radio, the DJ took a moment to share a portion of scripture. You want to guess which passage she used? Yup, it was that passage from James again. Again I felt I should be honest with God about my heart. Nope. Guilty feelings.
Again, either the next day or the day after that, the passage from James came into my ears again. This time I’m not sure if it came from a coworker or friend, but the point was FINALLY made. I GET IT! FINE, I’LL PRAY ABOUT IT.
So the next morning during my prayer time, I finally got honest with God. I poured out my heart. I confessed how I should be grateful for my current job, but I asked him to give me something else. I wanted a job that I could pour myself into. I wanted to serve others, express my creativity, not be hindered by corporate bureaucracy, and provide a stable income for my family. I didn’t know what that meant, I only knew that I felt like sharing my heart with God was the right thing to do.
Now, I promise God doesn’t always work like this, but what happened next was incredible. Less than 24 hours after sharing my heart with God, I got an email from a podcasting friend. He told me about a friend of his who was starting a new podcast network and his friend was looking for hosts. My friend thought I would be a good candidate. That friend was Cliff Ravenscraft, and his friend turned out to be Stuart Crane. The network Stuart was starting was called TV Talk.
I began learning more about the project and Stuart’s background. It occurred to me that he would likely need someone to produce all of those podcasts. So I reached out to Stuart and told him I was not only interested in hosting a podcast on his network, but I was interested in taking care of all the post-production. My intuition was right. Stuart did need help with production, but he also needed help with tech support, finding hosts, training hosts, brainstorming ideas, and other leadership responsibilities. A month later, Stuart hired me to help launch TV Talk.
It’s funny, until Cliff reached out to me, I don’t think I’d really given much thought to making a career with podcasting. It should have been the first thing that came to mind. Building websites certainly shouldn’t have been my first thought! I’d NEVER had anyone come to me and ask to help them build a website. But I’d had several people come to me and ask me to help them launch or improve their podcast. Podcasting was my biggest passion. Podcasting was what I spent most of my free time doing. How was I so blind??!!
This is not a lesson about how we can ask God for anything and he’ll give it to us. That’s not an accurate interpretation of scripture, even though some theologians would say otherwise. This is a lesson about honesty. I truly believe that God answered my prayer in the way He did because I was willing to be broken before him and pour out my heart honestly. I’m still surprised that God answered the prayer the very next day. God simply does not always work that way. His ways are not our ways, and his thoughts are not our thoughts. Certainly our timing is not his timing. But this time it was.
God does love and care for every single one of us, including you. He rewards honesty and authenticity. He took a woman he met at a well that had had 4 husbands and was living with a man who was not her husband, and turned her into an evangelist that same day. Why? She was honest. God is not too big, and we are not too small. Don’t ever believe otherwise. Don’t ever be afraid to approach him and pour out your heart.
I know some of you listening don’t believe in God and think that prayer is nothing more than speaking into air. Some of you may believe in God but you’re not ready to buy into what I’m sharing. I’m not here trying to convert you. I’m simply telling you the very real and authentic ways that God has been present in my life. When you’re ready, share your heart , your questions, your frustration, your pain, your unbelief with Him. Be honest, be authentic. He honors that.
I’m Darrell Darnell, and this has been Stuff I Learned Yesterday episode 569, “The Spark of a New Dream.” We’re nearing the home stretch of this story, but we’re not done yet. Next week I share a story that taught me the importance of seeking wise counsel. There are just 3 episodes remaining in this season, and I’d love to hear how this season has inspired you. Please reach out to me and let me know. And if I get enough responses, I’ll put together a bonus episode in between this season and the next one. You can reach out to me on Twitter at GSMPodcasts, Facebook, or our feedback page.