Thrive: Guess What Else? – Erin Robinson Hall

As Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the lake—for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.
—Matthew 4:18-22

Sometimes Jesus comes to your workplace.

My friend Emily and I can each point to the time this happened for us. We were in a small discussion group for women. Our conversations often made their way to confessions that our work just wasn’t cutting it as far as our callings were concerned.

Emily was a polished professional in the world of public relations and commanded board rooms full of big dollars and big ideas. I was a ninth grade teacher in an urban school and spent my days convincing struggling teenagers that reading mattered and they mattered, too. Emily and I were each busy at our work and both pretty good at our jobs. The jobs had become familiar territory; we knew what was expected of us. Yet we both began to sense that Jesus was calling us to something unfamiliar.

“Jesus saw them casting a net, for they were fishermen.”

Those words are what I love about this passage. There is plenty to be said about Simon and Andrew dropping their nets and heading out with Jesus. That is sermon-worthy stuff, for sure. But for me, the game changer happened when Jesus went to the place where they were doing what they did every day. These guys were busy at work and probably pretty good at their job.

I wonder what they were feeling before Jesus’ invitation. Had they had been looking for something more? Had they been thinking about their gifts or wondering if this was the place God wanted them to be? Is that what made it easy to say yes?

For Emily and me, it was not an easy yes. It was more a series of ten thousand questions, each one strewing out pebbles along the career path we had carefully charted until the path veered in a completely new direction. We each asked our spouses, pastors, and friends, “Who, me? How? What will it cost? Should I go back to school? How can I step away from this paycheck? What will my family think?

Parker Palmer writes about recognizing one’s calling: “When I follow only the oughts, I may find myself doing work that is ethically laudable but not mine to do.” Following the oughts became, for me, just not quite enough. When I began to look seriously at the idea of following the Christ who walks into the places people are at work, Jesus nudged me in a new direction. I followed that nudge to seminary and educational ministry in the church.

Emily was perplexed about whether God wanted her to attend seminary or begin work in a new field. She began to discern that her calling was not for a change of work altogether but a change in context: a place where compassion and care could be her driving force. Emily now works faithfully and tirelessly for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Emily and I have been cheerleaders for each other since those days of calling. Emily’s prayers for me and her excitement were felt on the day of my ordination, and I could not be more proud of my friend who makes big things happen for children who are ill. I will always remember her as the friend who leaned over a cup of coffee and said, “Who cares what they think?!? That’s stupid. Do what God wants you to do.”

Even now, as it seems there are more “oughts” than ever, I am trying to remember not to be surprised when Jesus walks up beside me, points to the work I am doing and says, “Guess what else . . .”

Resource

Parker Palmer, “The Heart of a Teacher,” Center for Courage and Renewal, http://www.couragerenewal.org/parker/writings/heart-of-a-teacher.

Erin_Hall_c_xsmErin Robinson Hall holds a Master of Divinity degree from Candler Theological Seminary, Atlanta, Georgia. She has served as minister of congregational life at Heritage Baptist Fellowship in Canton, Georgia, and for nine years taught in the public school systems of North Carolina, Texas, and Georgia. Erin is currently working on a Doctor of Ministry degree in Christian Education at Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta. She lives in Macon, Georgia, with her husband, Jake, and their almost-two-year-old son, Logan.

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Comments

  1. Erin,
    Your words today remind to be open to the nudging of Jesus in my own life. Thanks.

  2. LeAnn Johns says:

    Beautiful words. Thank you for sharing your gift. So glad you said “Yes!” to the “Guess What Else”….