We worship what we fear. If it’s God, that’s a good thing. He should be feared. He’s God. But my own journey to find my calling forced me to ask myself a question that may be helpful for you. Do you worship your next paycheck?
One of the biggest challenges to stepping out in a new life direction is money. I’m going to unpack some strategies and insights about that challenge in the coming weeks.
Let’s start by thinking about this statement: “I don’t know where my next paycheck is coming from.”
Does it strike fear into your soul? Pity? Or joy at the possibility of amazing opportunity?
I found myself making that statement to myself a few years ago when I left the school I had led, because, candidly, there was no next paycheck. [I talk about this more in tomorrow’s podcast, Episode 10 — What No One Will Tell You about a New Life Direction]
I discovered what Shakespeare would call “the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns.” Some of you — maybe all of you at some point — have been there before. You might be there now.
Consider the example of Paul, or Saul, as he was called at the time. God broke into his comfortable world on the road to Damascus. “Saul, whoever or whatever you think you’re worshipping, it’s not me.”
In a moment, Paul lost everything he had known — everything he had devoted himself to worship — including his next paycheck. But what a story he was freed to tell! The kind of story that turns the world upside down. (Acts 22)
What I Learned When I Walked Away from a Paycheck
I confess that the fear — dare I say worship — of the next paycheck kept me transfixed in awe for far too long.
If you’ve seen the action flick Cowboys and Aliens, think of the hypnotic gaze on the face of the captives as they gazed at the light. You’ll get the idea (“Don’t look at the light!”). If not, think of one of those bug-zapping gizmos, and you’ll end up with the same mental image.
The thought of losing the perceived security of that next paycheck mesmerized me into staying safely in the boat for years. I don’t mean to trivialize money. As Zig Ziglar said, “Money isn’t the most important thing in life, but it’s reasonably close to oxygen on the ‘gotta have it’ scale.”
What made the decision to step away from a steady paycheck more challenging for me was that I had only had three primary jobs in my nearly twenty-five years of being in the workforce. (Unless you count my paper route. Do they still have those anymore?)
When I commit to a direction, I tend to stick with it. I suppose that bodes well for my current direction. But it does make for a rather uncomfortable season of transition when fear seeks to take hold.
Walking away from that next paycheck forced me to deal with my own fears and inner demons through those legendary dark nights of the soul.
And it still continues now as I build a new business and explore new avenues of influence for Christ.
But as Steven Pressfield says in Turning Pro: Tap Your Inner Power and Create Your Life’s Work, reality and humility are two powerful forces. Gifts, really.
When those two are present, all that is lacking is the will to move forward in answer to the call.
Walking by Faith
It’s one thing to say you will walk by faith when you’re pretty certain the next paycheck is coming. When you know it’s not, you come face-to-face with what you fear — and what you worship. You’re forced to choose.
No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. (Matthew 6:24)
It is in uncertainty that we can finally embrace the adventure to worship the One who is our true security:
Most of us will have no idea where we are going most of the time. And I know that is unsettling. But circumstantial uncertainty also goes by another name: Adventure. ~ Mark Batterson, Wild Goose Chase: Reclaim the Adventure of Pursuing God
What about you? If you weren’t afraid of losing your next paycheck, what would you be free to do?
Listen closely to the answer you give to that question. Maybe it’s God speaking through the fog of the ordinary to call you to something extraordinary.
I’m not telling you to quit your job today.
But maybe you should begin crafting a strategy to get there from here. In the weeks to come, I’ll offer what little wisdom I have learned from going through the process in the hopes that it will be a help.
You won’t be alone. I’ll be here waiting for you—out on the trail….
Question: Go ahead. Dream. We won’t tell. What would you be free to do if you no longer feared your next paycheck? Do you have a story of your own to tell about how you stepped away from a steady paycheck? Share your thoughts by clicking here.