My husband is turning 40 tomorrow. We celebrated with a few friends last night, and have plans to enjoy a fun day out tomorrow. It is a milestone birthday, but I don’t expect any monumental upheaval.
We met during college, so I have now known him about half his life. We have lived in five homes, in three states, during our sixteen years of marriage. We’ve enjoyed much more health than sickness and more prosperity than financial struggle.
We haven’t ended up exactly where we thought we might, but we like where we are. Eric enjoys his job and is excited about new opportunities to choose job experiences that closely align with his talent at work. He enjoys our daughters, and makes time for his favorite activities: running, weight training, fantasy football, and eating homemade ice cream.
About eight years ago, though, he made a major change in his career. To outsiders, it wasn’t a minor adjustment; it was an almost complete turn-around.
It started with daily, dehabilitating stress headaches. He visited various doctors, filled a series of different pain medication prescriptions. No relief.
His headaches ended the day he decided that he should look for a different type of career. By allowing himself to envision a different life, he freed himself from the pressures and strains of the day.
Even though nearly two years elapsed between his decision to pursue a new career and his first day on the new job, something even greater than his physical pain lifted the day he did his first Google search for new job possibilities. It has not returned.
At first glance his two careers are about as far removed from one another as most people can imagine. Once a pastor, he now works for a federal law enforcement agency (though he has kept the nickname “Preacher”).
Yet, friends who knew him before recognize that he is essentially the same man now as he was before. His reason for living remains unchanged. His values and priorities are constant.
As a pastor, and now as an agent, Eric has had careers that allow him to impact people for good. First in ministry, and now in upholding the law, he is fulfilling the same calling. He especially appreciates this sentiment from a police chaplain he works with: “Remember, you do God’s work.”
People with a strong sense of purpose and a clear vision for the future they desire can change their vocation without abandoning their raison d’être. Eric did, with no regrets.
It also makes for a great conversation starter. Raised eyebrows, “You did WHAT before?”
I don’t expect Eric to have a mid-life crisis as he passes this milestone birthday. He he’s given careful consideration to his life’s choices and made course corrections as needed — leading self with character — so that the next 40 years will be as purposeful and full of adventure as the first 40 have been.
This was originally posted at Mountain State University LeaderTalk and is re-posted with permission.