My goal in sixth grade was to be an Olympic runner, and to win the gold medal in at least three track events. I ran nearly every day for several months in preparation for a local race — I was going to run the half-mile. I was sure that this would be the start of my illustrious running career. I finished fifth place out of six contestants, over two minutes behind the winner. The results of that race let me know that a career in track and field was probably not God's will for my life.
As I have grown up, I have at various times been interested in different careers. When I was around 13 years old, I was interested in a career in dentistry. My gifts and talents seemed to match very well with dentistry — I was good at school, had good eye-hand coordination, and liked to help people. My dad arranged for me to interview a Christian friend who had been practicing dentistry for over 15 years. After interviewing him, I was impressed with the field, and I continued to read books about the profession, and thought a lot about it. Then came my high school biology lab in homeschool. It completely devastated my plans — I hated the imprecision of biology — if the manual said that the worm had a stomach, why wasn't it there?
Biology lab deflated my dream of becoming a dentist. After some floundering, I began to consider journalism as a possible goal. The idea of being a foreign correspondent especially piqued my interest. I seem to have a gift of writing well; I have learned to speak, read, and write Cambodian, and have also learned some French. I thought journalism might be a good way to use these abilities. While in the state of Washington for a visit in 1997, my dad took me to interview Mr. Otto Scott, who worked for many years as a newspaper correspondent and corporate writer. I found from Mr. Scott that, in order to become successful in the humanist world of journalism, I would probably have to compromise my morals and my Christian beliefs. As a Christian, I knew I could not intentionally put myself in that position, so I let my dream of journalism die an untimely death.
I had now changed career options several times before I even held a job. I was having a difficult time finding a goal in life to aim for, and I needed some help. My parents suggested I take a Personality, Interests, Skills, and Values (PISV) survey to aid me in my search for a career. The survey is written from an explicitly Biblical point-of-view. Christian Financial Concepts in Gainesville, Georgia (www.cfc.org/education) put out the PISV. I found it to be a valuable tool in evaluating my gifts and interests. I discovered that I might be suited for a career in a technical field, such as engineering. I had not seriously considered engineering before this point, although I knew something about the field. Some years ago, my dad took me with him to visit a practicing civil engineer, and I was able to ask him some questions. At the time, I thought civil engineering sounded interesting, but didn't pursue it any further. After taking the PISV, I began to reconsider civil engineering. I took some time to think about all the different angles, and I decided engineering looked like a solid fit for me. My dad took me to a levee reconstruction site along the Sacramento River, where I saw actual civil engineering work being done. I fell in love with civil engineering at that point.
God's providential hand began to move shortly after I decided on a career in civil engineering. I got some great SAT scores, which in turn led to some scholarship offers; and I was accepted at the University of the Pacific (UOP) in Stockton, California. UOP has a good engineering school, and its proximity to Modesto allows me to live at home as well. I have been very successful in my studies up to this point, and I am also employed part-time in a civil engineering testing laboratory. I am thankful I discovered God's call for my life, and I have learned some important things that also apply to other young men who are looking for the career that God has called them to.
1. Learn to trust God's providence. When you recognize that God is in control, and learn to trust him, everything will work out in his time.
2. Seek your parents' help and advice. My parents (but my father especially) have been very supportive of me as I sought God's will for my life. My dad was an invaluable help as he encouraged (and sometimes prodded) me to seek God's will for my life. He did not give me any "pat" answers or pious platitudes.
3. Take the Personality, Interests, Skills, and Values survey, or something similar. Develop and follow a plan to investigate various career and calling options.
4. Learn about a career and calling from someone with experience. There is no substitute for searching out someone who can tell you what it is all about, the good, the bad, and the ugly.
5. When you find a career, pursue it with all your might. Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do [it] with thy might; for [there is] no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest."
- Tim Bailey
Tim Bailey is a 19-year-old civil engineering student at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA. Tim and his family are members of Reformed Heritage Church in Modesto, CA. Tim is firmly committed to courtship, but still has four years of school and three years of work before he will be ready.