Monday, October 27, 2014

“Being fired was the best luck of my life. It made me stop and reflect.” —Jose Saramago

I have been fired many times.  I was fired as the driver of a mail truck in Los Angeles.  I was fired as the head janitor for an office building in Los Angeles.  I was fired as the General Manager of a large psychiatric facility in Los Angeles.  I was fired as the Vice President of Mobile Medical Industries in Los Angeles.  I was fired as the associate pastor of a very large United Methodist Church.  Here’s the thing—I thank God every day that I was fired from those jobs.  I could still be driving a mail truck under the kind of pressure that causes ulcers and heart attacks and never pays well.  I could still be a janitor even though it paid fairly well, but my self-image would never have improved.  I could still be running a mental facility but the stress would have probably have made me an inpatient in the same kind of place.  If I had not been fired as the vice president of that medical company, I would have gone to a federal prison with my bosses and partners.  It was because they fired me and stole my investment that the U.S. attorney was sure I wasn’t in on the scam, and we would have never moved to Arkansas where I became a church goer.  If I had not been fired as the associate pastor, I would never have become an evangelist and later a missionary.  The last ten years of my life have been my happiest, my most productive, and the most rewarding in terms of service to my Lord.  Had I kept my position in that big church, I would never have been free to follow God’s continuous call to mission.  We would never have sold everything and moved to the continent of Africa to carry on the expansion of God’s Kingdom and to help make the changes we have made here in sanitation, hygiene, education, clean water, pastor training, church growth, vocational training, Bible distribution, and becoming part of the lives of so many Tanzanians who turned to us for help.  You could say that each time I was fired, I moved on to bigger and better things.  It was like being fired was the best thing that could have happened to me at the time.  It is hard for us to see at the time that when bad things happen to us, they may just be an open door to become better people and to serve God at greater levels than we ever thought possible.  I am not ashamed of the times I was fired.  More than once, I knew that illegal or immoral things were happening and was afraid to say anything because I didn’t want to lose my paycheck.  That was my weakness, so I am grateful that each time I was fired, I was freed to become more of the man God wanted me to be.  We can get so frozen into thinking that we are what we do that a threat to what we do is like a threat to our personhood—but it isn’t.  If you love teaching, losing a position as a teacher in one school system doesn’t mean you are not a good teacher or no longer love teaching.  You just have to look elsewhere to find where God really wanted you to teach.  Being fired may feel bad at the time (it did for me) but as time passes wisdom comes.  Feel not dismayed at the loss of a job—look for the door that God just opened for you.  If you don’t walk through that newly opened door, sometimes God will throw you though it (it happened to me), but you will always benefit.  We never know what is ahead of us, but we are never just what we do for a living--we are always more.  We are always servants of God, and you can trust that God will take care of you and guide you if you will but let Him.  
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