“In their hearts… the Lord establishes their steps.” Proverbs 16:9
I vowed to never do it. It didn’t interest me. I didn’t study it (I double majored in French and History, after all). It actually really confused me. I did not want a career in it. So, in 2009, fresh out of college, I got a job in it.
The world of finance and investments was to be a large part of my existence for the next several years. I didn’t know why God had put me here, but I was thankful for gainful employment as a graduate right into the Great Recession. I hit the “I believe” button and pressed on. I tried to reassure myself along with thoughts of “welp… I must be doing this for some reason.”
I moved through a couple different positions at a couple different firms, continuing to learn and grow along the way. It wasn’t my passion, and I honestly spent a lot of my time quite bored. At my final role in this field, though, I was blessed with a truly exceptional boss, who to this day remains a close friend. A faithful follower of Christ, he has been an incredible mentor. I still consider it a miracle that he trusted to hire me, as I know my few years in the industry paled in comparison to his decades of experience and incredible knowledge. Undoubtedly, God brought this leader into my life with great intention and purpose, and for that I am most grateful.
It was during these years that I truly started to grow and see things outside my own self. He taught me more than any formal classes or any other position ever had. I learned about tax strategy, investment discipline, financial management, and the like. He taught me fine attention to detail (even when it could be “boring”… but now it’s my favorite!). He instilled in me a genuine but humble confidence and demonstrated true service to others in all circumstances. Two sentences stick with me and I think of them daily: “Always remember whose money it is” and “Just… handle it”. Seemingly simple, these mantras speak volumes and have become wonderfully applicable guideposts for so many aspects of my life. His example of relentless servant leadership and selflessness will forever be an inspiration. His close involvement with local philanthropic organizations was an added “bonus”. I certainly never thought I’d need to know details and analysis of endowments and how they function, gift-giving strategies, how to process in-kind stock donations, what an RMD is, or the importance of building relationships at our local community foundation.
But you know who did know? He knew. He knew what He was doing … during these many years doing what (originally) did not interest me.
And then in 2017, I left. I was given an incredible opportunity to work in France for a year. With great encouragement from family, friends, and yes – my boss, I sold my house, sold my car, and moved to Paris. I only admitted to myself then (and haven’t shared this with anyone until this moment), that I had been in search of healing from some recent turbulent and tragic events. I wasn’t running away from problems, but I was seeking a kind of solitude and time for reflection, outside my comfort zone. It was a tremendously difficult time, which brought incredible challenges but also incredible experiences and new, life-changing relationships.
Two in particular were with a church family at Emmanuel International Church, with campuses in Rueil Malmaison (a suburb of Paris) and at Ternes (a new church planted and opened during my time there, inside the Paris city limits), and one with Bible Study Fellowship at the American Church in Paris. Both brought great fellowship and friendship, accompanied by rich studies together of God’s word. It was with these groups I first felt the deep authenticity of God’s omnipotent love and presence in His people, no matter where in the world you are or where you come from. Elsie, an elderly lady in my BSF class in Paris, was from Barbados but had made her life in Paris. Elsie was an instant and constant beacon of Christian love, kindness, and joy. The different perspectives she shared were eye-opening and thought-provoking. A strong woman with a spunky sass but a Godly perspective to back it up. What a blessing to know and learn from her! And what a blessing this time was, full of healing and peace.
Upon my return to the U.S., I began looking for a job. I knew I wanted something different. I knew I wanted to move into the non-profit world. I knew I wanted this different approach to my career. I was looking for something that moved me on a personal level. Something that utilized my skills and passions. A career that gave me energy, gave me life. This was the desire of my heart and it was strong. It felt natural, it felt absolute; there simply wasn’t another option for me. He was acting here, but at the time I didn’t recognize it as His hand. I now understand this was Him calling me to and preparing me for ministry and missional service.
I was blessed to win a job fundraising for Orchestra Iowa. Now, this is a job where you learn a lot and in a short amount of time! Who knew I’d participate in union negotiations, write hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant applications, help prepare and analyze organizational budgets, learn the ins and outs of donor relations, form relationships in the community, and help build a cohesive development department in just two years? Not me! But we know who did know.
My time at the Orchestra was rewarding, enriching, and always full of meaningful challenges. I learned the importance of coupling great passion for a mission alongside business savvy and fiscal responsibility. I will always have a heart for the Orchestra and what the organization brings to the community. But I felt unsatisfied and was longing for more. God had a plan. And thanks to encouraging counsel from a lifelong (I literally think he was there the day I was born) family friend, I pursued a position at Bridgehaven.
Now, as I move into my new role as Development Director here, I recognize His plan and His purpose behind the last 10+ years of my life. I am humbled by the training I’ve had, and I recognize the unique challenge He has set before me… the challenge and training for which He began 10+ years ago. He has been shaping me, He has been transforming my mind and my heart. And I could not be more in awe with deep appreciation for His plan. My heart is for Him and for the ministry of genuine love (and life!) found at Bridgehaven, and how blessed I am to play a part in it. And guess what – I get to use all the knowledge and skills I learned in those first 10 years! I am blessed to be able to apply it to a godly mission that drives me.
My prayer is for you, Lord, to use me in this ministry, to be a blessing to the organization. This role is resource- and funds-focused, and I pray you remind me daily that this is all yours and I am but a faithful and trusted steward of these gifts. The funds are one of many tools we need to do your work. I am here to serve as part of your kingdom, with Christ-like love and vision for our community. I thank you for the blessings you have poured out, and we know you are here with us.
God is always working to train, shape, and develop us for His purpose. We may not always recognize or understand it, but with each experience, each nugget of wisdom, each heartbreak, each joy, He builds us for missional living. It is up to us to allow, follow, and embrace this challenge. But we can take great joy in and find incredible peace knowing He is always at the helm as our Lord and savior and is always walking alongside us as our father and friend.
One of my grandmother’s favorite hymns (What a Friend We Have in Jesus by Joseph Scriven & Charles Crozat Converse) reminds us “…what a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear! What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!”
His plan is so much better than anything we could ever imagine on our own. When we trust in Him, the story, the experience, the life will be exactly what it is meant to be: His plan, His glory.
Lord, my prayer is for you to be present with me in every moment. Take over and allow me to be a tool of service, love, and encouragement. I am yours; this ministry is yours. Break me so I may serve Thee.
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” -1 Peter 4: 8, 10-11