What Proverbs taught me about my career
When I was in college, I had no idea what I wanted to do for a career. I was an English major and loved poetry, but I wondered if this could translate in any practical way to the “real world.”
Fortunately, having grown up attending a Christian Science Sunday School, I knew to turn to my Father-Mother God for guidance. I felt comfortable doing this, knowing that God is the one Mind that directs and governs us all, and that we are the expression of this Mind.
In high school, I had begun to live closely with these verses from Proverbs, which I applied to everything from relationships to summer jobs: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (3:5, 6).
Those verses provide steps for praying about direction: Put aside your own understanding, or human will, which can be mistaken and limiting. Acknowledge God in everything you do. Turn wholeheartedly to God, good, whose will for you is always good and is never mistaken.
Webster’s Dictionary defines acknowledging as recognizing the authority of something, and also as expressing gratitude. Gratitude for God’s direction opens our eyes to the possibility of even more good to come.
In my sophomore year of college I wanted to get a meaningful summer job that would point me toward a career. But I didn’t know where to look. So I again followed the instruction of Proverbs and actively listened for God’s direction.
It came in a most unexpected way. One day after class, I saw a stack of new alumnae quarterly magazines in my dorm entryway. I took one to my room and read it. The cover story was about graduates of my college who had gone into journalism.
A little mental light went on. Hmmm. Journalism. It’s not poetry or literature, but it does involve writing.
Even though I had never been interested in politics or paid much attention to the news, I wrote letters to every person featured in the article and asked to be considered for a summer internship.
Everyone wrote back messages of encouragement, for which I was so grateful. But only one person offered me a job at a newspaper. It was in Alaska—about as far away from my home in Maryland as I could get. When I called my dad to tell him the good news, he said he’d heard of the editor who had offered me a summer job and that he thought she was a Christian Scientist.
That summer in Alaska turned out to be a pivotal one for me. It provided blessings beyond my wildest dreams, which is the way it works when infinite Love is in charge. It turned out that I loved journalism and was good at it. Some of my stories even landed on the front page!
That was also the summer when I began to read the Christian Science Bible Lesson daily and pray regularly for myself. I had my first instantaneous healing that summer.
It turned out that the editor who hired me was a Christian Scientist. After I graduated from college, I went to work for The Christian Science Monitor, and a few years later, she became the Monitor’s editor and a lifelong mentor to me.
You might think the story ends with my happy discovery of journalism. But when I got to the Monitor, I was confronted with something I hadn’t expected.
Praying about a career is not a “one and done” kind of thing. The world of journalism, like any field, is big and full of choices. I wondered: Should I become an editor? A reporter? Work in a domestic bureau? Work overseas? I realized I needed to keep praying.
As I studied and listened, it occurred to me that I was asking the wrong questions. I was viewing my career in a limited way. What I really needed to be asking was something much more fundamental: What is God’s purpose for me?
In a letter to the members of First Church of Christ, Scientist, in New York, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, throws new light on what we should be striving for: “… may each member of this church rise above the oft-repeated inquiry, What am I? to the scientific response: I am able to impart truth, health, and happiness, and this is my rock of salvation and my reason for existing” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 165).
I realized my purpose was not to one day become a foreign correspondent or to cover current events in Washington, DC. Rather, I was meant to express God’s truth, health, and joy every day—in other words, to acknowledge Him in all my ways.
At work, I began to give much more thought to how I was doing my tasks, rather than what they were or where they would lead me. My first job at the Monitor was a lowly one, but I strove to perform my duties with vigor and to express God-given cheerfulness, helpfulness, efficiency, clarity, intelligence, and love.
Opportunities began to present themselves, and I followed as I was directed. I’ve worked at the Monitor now for more than 25 years, and I have had the joy of being a foreign correspondent and a White House reporter. But I never prayed with the specific intent of getting those or other jobs. Instead, I was led to them, or they found me.
Over time I have come to see that continuing my career is nothing more complicated than daily listening for how best to express God. Or, as Mrs. Eddy puts it in her poem “Christ My Refuge”:
My prayer, some daily good to do
To Thine, for Thee;
An offering pure of Love, whereto
God leadeth me. (Poems, p. 13)