“Thy will be done…..” – Matthew 6:10
I began 2012 with some goals. Some personal (read 40 books, teach again at church), some professional (inject my values in my work life, work more selflessly), and there was one thing I wanted to learn. What I wanted to learn this year was “surrender”.
Surrender isn’t easy. It means giving you what I want for where He wants me to be. It means that I accept every setback, every hardship, every difficulty as part of what I need to learn to be the man I need to be. It means that I prepare for the unexpected because His plans trump my plans. True surrender is a living faith, not just living in faith. But surrender is hard. Surrender sometimes, for lack of a better word, sucks.
I have been on an interesting professional journey the past few years. I work in a competitive environment- competing for jobs, competing for opportunities, competing to advance one’s career. It’s a difficult environment; it’s one where you can lose yourself and your values very quickly in order to advance. It’s an environment where gossip and innuendo have equal weight with accomplishments and achievements. It’s an environment where “who you know” trumps “what you do” with great frequency. It’s easy to sacrifice values to gain friendships, separate from what’s right in order to pursue what’s wanted.
I have been guilty of this at times. I am not proud, but I have been caught in the undertow of this environment. Fortunately I have the ability to learn, evolve, and build upon mistakes. I am stronger from my shortcomings because I have learned from them and improved. I will never be perfect though. I will always be challenged by the trap of becoming the caught up in the negative side of work. I must always “beware the undertoad”, to quote John Irving.
And all this is a precursor to “surrender”. This year I decided I would surrender my career dreams and goals to God. I would continue to apply for jobs, but instead of trying to pursue my will I would leave it up to God. My prayer was that I would do my best to put myself out there, and I will let him determine which door I would walk through. I surrender to Him, and asked Him to put me on the path He wants me to be on.
Surrender is hard. I have applied for many positions here at work. There was one where I was told that I had the best interview, but I was not selected. I interviewed for a job where I was overqualified and was not considered. I applied for the job I have been doing temporarily on and off for four years, and the two people selected had different experience but less time in the position. And there were other disappointments as well. Each disappointment is humbling; each humbling in a different way. Disappointment has its own callous, and each job passed was one step closer to the door I am meant to walk through. I continued to pray that God place me on the path He wants me on. I wasn’t happy all the time, but I strengthened my faith that He would place me where He wants me to be.
I applied for a job in June. It was a higher manager position than the job I’ve been doing for 4 years; it was the position that had been my boss. I applied because I wanted feedback from the ranking process, to find out how close I was to moving up to the senior manager ranks. I wanted to get feedback on what I was lacking and then spend the next year adding the experience I needed. I was not optimistic, but as with every application I did two things: I discussed it with Randi regarding how getting the job would impact us, and secondly I prayed that God gave me peace with the outcome.
I forgot about the job. Actually, I got an email saying I didn’t qualify for another job, and I thought it was in reference to this specific job. I’ve sent so many applications that this one just slipped my mind…. until August 29. I got a phone call that morning that I was selected to interview. I was shocked. I didn’t expect an interview. But I applied and would be interviewing, though my dreams did not include getting the job. My hope was the same as the application process- get feedback on what I was lacking and then spend the next year adding the experience I needed. And I did the two things- discussed with Randi, and prayed for God’s peace. I prayed that at the end of the interview I would feel good about how I presented myself. I didn’t pray to get selected- I wanted to be at peace with the how I did. I did not expect to get selected, but I prayed that if God wanted me in that direction that it would be His will.
I’ve interviewed six times this year- this would be the seventh. You get comfortable in the process; you get good at it. I’ve done the practice; I’ve received feedback from the interviews. I’ve taken notes, applied learning, and was very prepared to sell myself and my skills. At the risk of sounding boastful, I’m good at the interview. I like the moment, the nervousness. It’s a rush, it’s a game, and it’s a challenge. It’s story telling, and the main character in the story is me. While I don’t feel comfortable talking about myself, at least I’m familiar with the subject matter. But I also tell people when preparing for interviews that it’s fun. If you go in having fun, them your enthusiasm and personality will show through. This interview was going to be fun because I was prepared, but also because I did not expect to get selected. This was to be a litmus test on my experience; I did not expect selection. There was no stress because there was nothing to lose.
The interview was fun. It was a phone interview in a conference room. Just me and a conference phone. I was in a room that I knew- the conference room that I held meetings in for over three years. It was the most comfortable space for me to have an interview. And I did well. Very well. I knew I did well. I was relaxed, prepared, answered every question with examples, focusing on actions and results. My stories were polished, succinct, and I felt good. One of the worst feelings after an interview is the “oh, I should have said that” feeling. I didn’t have that this time. I left it all on the playing field, felt I did my very best, and was looking forward to the feedback because I wanted what I could ADD to what I already gave in the interview.
You all know where this is going.
God has plans for all of us. He has a plan for me. Who I am, what I do, what my family does- it’s all intertwined in His plan. Since the day I got the call about being interviewed, I have seen His work in preparing me for this transition.
Last week I was expecting a call regarding the job. I knew I was being seriously considered for the job, which was very flattering. But still, I’ve been disappointed many times and was not going to get my hopes up. Waiting was difficult to the point that I started praying for a decision- not a specific decision, just any decision. But I also laughed when praying, because I know God will reveal things in his time, not mine.
Last Friday I wanted the call. My day came to an end, and yet no call once again. My day ends at 2:45, and that 2:45 I was standing at my desk, computer off, bag on my shoulder, and looking at the phone. And I said, “well, maybe Monday”. I turned around and at that exact moment the phone rang. Life changed forever.
I was offered the Operation Manager position for the IRS in Austin, Texas. The service center has 6 operations- I will be responsible for one. I’m supervising 4 Department Managers, up to 40 front line managers, and approximately 1,000 employees. I’ll lead teams in both Austin and San Antonio. There is a big responsibility to my employees, to my managers, and mostly to the taxpayers. While the position has my name on it, my responsibility is those I serve. I am a big proponent of that “S” on IRS. My responsibility is that those working for me remember that “S” and give their best each day. It’s not any more complicated than that.
So surrender has led to surrender. Ian, Randi, and I will be moving to Austin. I don’t know what date exactly, but by the end of the year. I believe this is the path God has laid out for me. If I had been chosen for any of the previous jobs, I never would have received this. I have felt His hand guiding me, and I willingly accept what lies ahead. I look forward to how He wants to use me. I know there is a plan.
The hard part is you. You are a part of my life, my family. You have invested in me and my family, and that is a strong