The Opportunity in Failure: Why You Haven’t Found Your Calling Yet

Note: This is a guest post by Rachel Miller, who is the Executive Director of Forbid Them Not Ministries and the author of three books. She is the happy aunt of 10 amazing nieces and nephews, and slightly addicted to life in Montana.

A year ago last week, I climbed a set of wooden steps and reached for a door that would change my life. With each step and each tightening knot in my stomach, the opening phrase of The Art of Work echoed in my brain:

A calling is not some carefully crafted plan. It’s what’s left when the plan goes horribly wrong.

Why You Haven't Found Your Calling Yet

I knew those words to be true. I had lived them.

Twenty years of nonprofit service for orphans, widows, and single moms had crashed down around me at the moment my own dad and pastor unexpectedly left this earth. He was gone, and little by little, everything normal in my life began slipping away — everything but that one passion.

But while my world crumbled, my calling grew stronger. My understanding of the need deepened. When everything else seemed lost, my heart still screamed, “Fight for your calling!”

As I reached for that door at the top of the wooden steps, my stomach churned. This was not fighting. At best, it felt like a betrayal of the calling and of those I longed to serve — but I saw no other choice.

I opened the door, walked into the employment agency, and sat trembling at a desk in the back room. I signed page after page of documents I could barely read through my tears, and set out on a journey I never intended to take: finding a job that had nothing to do with my calling.

Two and a half months later, with my attentions split and my grief still raw, my ministry was barely hanging on. I sought counsel, but found little encouragement. Two leaders told me, “Sometimes we just have to give up what we love.” A third told me it wasn’t worth fighting for.

To top it all off, sharp accusations were publicly flung in my direction. They were not true, but the damage was done, and I had to find restoration on my own. I was devastated, convinced that I had failed everyone by not securing a peaceful resolution.

As I drove down the street in tears two days after that event, I was shocked to hear myself praying, “Why should I even keep trying?”

Three weeks later, my new job as a leasing agent at an apartment complex was combined with another position (double the work), and the hours were cut nearly in half. The sense of failure was overwhelming.

Your failure doesn’t define you

During all of this, I had been taking The Art of Work course. Between that prayerful conversation in my car and Jeff’s constant emphasis on pivot points, it didn’t take me long to realize where I was, and that I didn’t have to stay stuck there.

Although I would still have to take on more work, not having full-time hours at the apartment complex meant I could start rebuilding the ministry. That idea gave me hope, and I started taking steps — building a bridge, as The Art of Work calls it.

Three months later, I walked across that bridge to meet with a single mom in Burger King. She was weeping. The State was pursuing termination of her parental rights. They had brought crushing testimony against her. Some of it was true. Some of it was grossly exaggerated. Some of it was false.

Because of my own tearful moment in the car months earlier, I was able to lean across the table, look her in the eyes, and say, “Those lies do not define you. Who you are is not what people think or say about you.”

That day opened a door to work with her on a regular basis. She has grown, matured, and found new confidence over the last seven months. She has even gone back to school and started her own business.

Two months after that moment in Burger King, my ministry, the one that “wasn’t worth fighting for,” received a $5000 gift. It was enough to put down a deposit and six months’ rent for a small office, furnish the space, and offset the cost of moving the ministry out from under the umbrella of our church and establish it as its own 501c3.

Shortly after settling into our new office space, we discovered that the offices surrounding us belong to an agency focusing on single moms of meth-affected babies, as well as drug- and alcohol-related peer mentoring. We’re working on a referral plan.

Finding a voice

In The Art of Work, Jeff stresses the importance of sharing the work. This has been an area of struggle for me for many years. I wanted to share my vision with others and wanted them to be more involved, but no one seemed interested beyond a small gift or project here and there.

One of our board members recommended that I enroll in a course dealing with partnership development. The first night of classes, I realized the course would give me the opportunity to practice many of the things I had learned in Jeff’s book.

I soon found the courage to begin intentionally presenting the ministry to others. I’ve since learned the joy of seeing them get involved. We now have a volunteer heading up our clothing exchange! I’ve learned that the people I think will want to get involved might not be interested, while people I would never have considered might play an amazing role in the organization.

Embracing the unexpected

In the midst of all this activity, a dispute between the company I work for and the local Housing Authority led to unexpected moves for two of our Section 8 residents. Both were single moms.

After much prayer and a conversation with my manager, the ministry was allowed to help both of these women relocate by providing the moving truck for one family and moving volunteers for the other.

It’s amazing how many obstacles have “opportunity” written all over them, like the interruptions that kept me at work late today. Because of them, I was there to answer a phone call that has connected the ministry to a family who just lost their home to a fire.

It’s amazing how many obstacles have “opportunity” written all over them.

Rachel Miller

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We still have a long way to go. We are not out blazing a trail with fireworks and fanfare. But we are, little by little, accomplishing our goal through simple solutions. This thing is far from dead.

Walking up those stairs and reaching for that door a year ago seemed like the ultimate sign of failure, but in reality, it was an amazing pivot point. It became an opportunity for the ministry to grow, to learn, and to serve others as much as we can — and for me to recommit to my calling.

Our ministry has now gained a glimpse of what is possible with persistence, faithfulness, and patience. We’ve seen beauty come from the ashes of a plan gone horribly wrong.

To learn more about The Art of Work go here. You can pick up a copy at Amazon or Barnes & Noble and fill out the form on this page to get some bonus videos and other fun stuff!

What unexpected challenges have you faced? How have they given you a different perspective on your calling? Share in the comments.

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Rachel Miller spent 10 years serving in various capacities at an orphanage in Moscow, Russia, where she worked directly with orphans and guardians, assisted and trained caregivers and teachers, and was part of their material development team, preparing materials for family and church leaders’ seminars, which were held in five countries in the region.

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100 thoughts on “The Opportunity in Failure: Why You Haven’t Found Your Calling Yet

  1. What a powerful story – thank you for sharing.

    I think I’ve found my calling – I know what lights me up, that’s for sure. The part about making a living from it still feels a bit loose. Not discouraging or wrong just nebulous still. I’m okay with that and am certain it will become clearer.

    I struggle with trusting myself – is this what I really want? Am I strong enough to stick with it? I have to remind myself sometimes that deciding is an important piece. Deciding, and letting other options go and remain focused.

    1. Keetha, I also struggle with trusting myself. You’re right, deciding is
      so very important. With some things we just never know until we try.
      Thanks for sharing!

  2. I graduated with my Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy in 2012 and it took me three years to find a job. I saw it as a failure because I felt unwanted, but as my perspective changed this time off from working gave me the opportunity to find reawaken my calling and dream to be a writer. It has been a struggle, but as I remain obedient, the results keep showing themselves!

    1. Don’t you love it when the results starts showing themselves! 🙂 It’s so easy to associate our worth with our circumstances, but much within those circumstances warps our vision. I’m so glad you kept pressing on!

  3. To quote Rachel… I had to find restoration on my own. I was devastated, convinced that I
    had failed everyone by not securing a peaceful resolution. Words like these aren’t thought up but come from life experience. Some years back I also went through this process…seeking counsel from whole mature people that wasn’t so whole and mature after all. Wading through accusations true and false, a miry clay experience I call it and eventually come out on the other side realizing I had to find restoration on my own. No one else really cared if I did so I thought only to find out after my healing process was finished that those people I wasn’t thrilled with in the beginning were like lifeguards who looked all the part but couldn’t swim. How could they save me back then when they couldn’t help themselves? Instead of anger I now look back and feel sad for them… Like Rachel I had to find and fight for my own restoration… I found it and now like Rachel I’m able to actually be a lifeguard to others, I can swim… Great article Rachel.

    1. Tom, I love how you describe those in your situation “lifeguards who couldn’t swim.” I’m so glad you have taken the tools you were given (the swimming lessons) in your trial and used them to help others. I believe that’s the right thing to do! Anger doesn’t help anything, but turning the hurt into love can be pretty powerful.

      1. Rachel, I have been in the ministry for 34 years come this August. Like yourself I wished the dream killers were behind me no sitting in front of me as I went through those trials. I cut a covenant with God saying, If I make it through this one I’ll make a vow to never do that to anybody.
        It was during this time that I found Jeff Goins and started reading his stuff, listening to his blog casts, reading his books. Jeff’s journey has spoken volumes to me. His book “Wrecked” was incredible as I had just moved from the Nashville area back to New England. Jeff’s other subsequent articles / blog posts were a lifeline to me many days. I thank God for him.

        I have some books I’ve started but I’m still sitting on them and as I write this I can only guess my reason is… I do not have a small personal group to meet with to encourage me inspire and challenge me to do so. My ministry is finally taking off again but the writing still lags behind. My ministry friends encourage the ministry part of me but not the writer.

        Again that you for your inspiring piece. I was and am still blessed by your kind words.

  4. Rachel, thank you for sharing your story and showing the results of faith and courage and the willingness to walk through the pain. I am in the midst of “the dark night of the soul” and have not yet taken Jeff’s course, but am encouraged to hear that you gained so much support from “The Art of Work.” Although it is not quite clear what your business is, it is obvious that you are making a difference in the lives of others, and that resonates with me. I hope to use my skill and experience as a social worker to help those in recovery from substance use disorders really bring their gift to our communities in mutually satisfying ways, and to train other professionals and para-professionals to do the same. There, I’ve said it 🙂 Blessings to all who read this, and especially to Mr. Goins – your generosity is inspiring!

  5. Thank you Rachel. I’m a Brit in the USA and a pastor’s wife who’s never really found her “thing”. I’m not a youth leader, a worship leader or kids director and I’m not a natural pastor. I’ve always felt a bit lost. Then I got cancer. 6 years after my mum died and just six weeks after my sister passed away I was diagnosed with rectal cancer. It didn’t come with a pretty pink bow, but over time it’s lead to a new sense of call, as I encourage others to find the humor and grace in the midst of life. I blog (www.mystorymygod.com), I speak and I challenge and encourage. I’m not there yet. I still feel like there’s more, but you’ve encouraged me today to keep looking in the bits I’ve left on the cutting room floor. I pray your ministry goes from strength to strength.

    1. Wow! Thank you for sharing and thank you for that prayer. Psalm 84 is one of my all time favorites. I don’t think it’s coincidentally that the idea of going from strength to strength directly follows a verse the speaks of walking through a valley of weeping. It’s amazing the strength and growth that comes out of valleys.

  6. Thanks so much for sharing, Rachel. My youngest daughter was diagnosed with a rare liver disease, biliary atresia, when she was 9 weeks old. The journey that followed led my family through a difficult time, including her losing much of her blood supply & an emergency helicopter ride to our children’s hospital. She received the gift of life, a new liver, at 7 months old. This has tweaked with me in ways I wouldn’t have expected but most of all has led me to a place where I want to be an encouragement for other families, write more about this journey and do work that is truly valuable. Still not there yet, but working on it.

    1. What an important work! You’ll get there! Sometimes valuable isn’t big, sometimes it’s just that one little thing that meets the need at the moment. I have a feeling you’re already doing it.

  7. Rachel, your story resonates with me.

    Three years ago I went to a writing conference and hated every second of it. I’ve wanted to be–thought I wanted to be–a writer for most of my life, but was trying desperately to make ends meet as a mortgage broker/branch manager, and feeling like I couldn’t any longer be torn in two pieces by my job and my “hobby”. So I quite writing. Decided to focus all my time and attention on my business, build it strong and healthy. Become, finally, an adult, and give up this childish obsession.

    Absolutely the worst decision of my life.

    That next year was a disaster in every possible way. I was terrible at home with my wife and kids. I was snappish, frustrated, tired all the time. Even more, my business struggled more than it ever had. I got no peace at work or at home. We made so little that when the writing conference came around again the next year, and I got the “come on back!” emails, I just deleted them. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to go–I realized that I desperately did–but I was so broke I COULDN’T go.

    That was when I decided the Lord was telling me I was an idiot. He let me go my way if I wanted to, but He sure wasn’t going to help me do something so stupid. So I turned myself about 180 degrees and went the other way. If someone advertised for a writing contest, I entered it. If a school asked me to teach, I said yes. I started the day thinking about how to get words written, not how to find mortgage clients.

    A year later I went to that writing conference again. More money in the bank than I’d had in years. Two novels written in the past year. A short story contest win. Another one picked up for an anthology. Two schools had me on staff, teaching writing and history. The mortgages, bless them, more plentiful and less stressful than I could ever remember. I was, and am, happier than I’ve ever been.

    I don’t think it has to work out this way, and there are days when it’s a struggle–that never goes away–but having my face toward the sun makes a huge difference. May it be so for you, too, Rachel. Keep us posted.

    1. I love this! It’s amazing what happens when we, or life circumstances, try to rip that calling out of our lives. It’s like amputating an arm—or maybe it’s our heart that’s being amputated. Keep writing!

  8. Powerful story- thank you so much for sharing. Truly a God-thing; there’s absolutely no other explanation when you read the coordination and orchestration of the details. Wow! It’s so very cool to realize we do not have to worry about being in the right place at the right time; if we are trusting God, He will put us in the right place at EXACTLY the right time. We just need to be willing and available to be moved.

    I’ve recently had an opposite kind of story – my (writing) dreams were becoming more of a frustrating distraction than a pleasant pursuit. I’ve written for a number of years, and happily had a moderate amount of success and a few bucket list items checked off in that arena. My still new-ish full-time job is so completely different than anything I ever thought I’d do, and has nothing at all to do with writing, but it fits like a glove (I’m on an operations team in the world of finance and I hate money but I do like paperwork, processes and procedures….). Most of the workday, I would have email after email slip into my inbox about an upcoming writing workshop or an online blogging course or how to finally pursue my dream of writing and publishing my own book. These emails would tug at my heart and split my mind all during my day and I felt as if I had a foot in both camps; a well-paying job I was suited for and enjoyed, and a dream that was now more of an annoyance because with every email pushing me towards it I felt “less than” for not pursuing it.

    I needed to do something about that.

    One Saturday morning about 4 weeks ago, I sat down and talked to God about it, and prayed a “prayer of acceptance.” I told Him I would stop being so distracted about what’s “out there” that I’m NOT doing and begin to focus on the massive amounts of blessings that are right before me that He has provided. I asked Him for His help in this, and I cannot deny the peace I have experienced about my job, my work and my purpose/life ever since that Saturday morning. I am no longer in a mental battle with myself about what I should or should not be doing, and I am enjoying my work even more than I was before. God is showing me ways He is using me through my current job, and I’m humbled.

    I have in no way “given up” on my idea or hope or love of writing; I’m just in a season where it is not front and center. If it ever needs to be or should be, I know that God will put it there with neon lights so that I cannot miss it.

    1. Beth, you are right! This has definitely been a God-thing. Isn’t it wonderful when we come to that place of being at peace, even if where we are isn’t where we expected to be!

  9. I thought I had found my true calling when I became a Chiropractor and I still do get some satisfaction out of helping people achieve their health goals through Chiropractic but lately it has not been very fulfilling and I am not sure anymore that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. I have loved to write since I was in first grade and know this is a gift God gave me and wants me to pursue but the business (in addition to being a wife and mom) is all consuming and so I have not written anything in a while. I get inspiration to write from everyday life but by the time I sit down at the end of the day once things are quiet enough to write I am so exhausted that I cannot seemed to regain the inspiration and all I want to do is sleep. Early mornings are good (I am actually a morning person) but don’t often get to bed early enough to be totally alert at 5:00 AM. Thank you for sharing. It has given me a renewed courage to really seek God and allow him to lead me to my true calling when I had just about given up.

    1. Thank you for sharing, Rochelle. I pray that you will know exactly what that calling is and have the courage to pursue it!

  10. Rachel, I am adding my thanks too.
    For the last ten years my life have left me with the same feeling: “Why should I even keep trying?” Because throughout this time I have been left feeling as though I have failed, missed opportunities and have been running in circles without having anything to show for my efforts.
    Reading your story has raised my somewhat tired spirits. You have clearly worked hard not just for yourself but for others too. I am so pleased you ignored those who told you to give up; were able to keep going; found new answers to problems; new ways of working that have now turned things around for you.
    This will spurn me on. I shall (somehow) pick myself up, dust myself down and hopefully find new answers to my own problems.
    I think your story shows us all that anything you want to do you should not give up on. You should just try a different way of achieving your goals and more importantly be open to other people, places, ways and things. For every person who may be sitting in judgement of our failures there are at least ten more people who will want us to achieve and not give up on ourselves. You are a clear example of one such person; willing to help women who have been judged by society and are giving up on themselves. Thank you! I wish you continued success in your endeavours and more importantly much deserved happiness in those endeavours.

    1. Thank you, Lucy. I’ve seen a lot over the past few months how easily we allow one thing to define us as a failure. So often we expect perfection of ourselves, when, really, no one around us is expecting that. We do miss opportunities and go in circles sometimes, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try again! Keep pressing on! 🙂

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  12. For the last six years my dream has been journalism. I was going to go to the best journalism school in the country. I was going to continue to go above and beyond as I always did in high school. I was going to graduate and find my place in the professional world of international journalism.
    I’m nearing the end of my sophomore year and should be entering the Missouri School of Journalism in the fall. But my mental health has deteriorated so severely that I’ve seriously begun to consider not returning in the fall in order to focus on my treatment.
    For my personality type, this is absolutely devastating. I’ve struggled with constantly trying to prove myself and the idea of having to explain why I left my dream to so many people terrifies me. Especially my extended family as I haven’t even been able to tell them about my mental health.
    I am beginning to think that I’m being put on an entirely new path and am considering returning home and taking psychology courses at my local community college while I receive treatment and then transferring those to a four year university to continue the degree.

    1. I can totally relate. Before I started Forbid Them Not eight years ago, I returned to Asia and Russia on a “survey trip,” expecting to find a ministry to work with either in Moscow or Central Asia. I came home with ZERO plans. More than two months abroad and nothing came of it! I was so discouraged that I didn’t tell anyone but my family that I was back in the US. I wanted to crawl under my bedroom carpet and stay there–but I knew the lump would be visible. It took about two-three months before the next step became clear. I faced a lot of rejection in those early days, still do in some realms, but I’m learning that even though I want their approval, it’s most important that I do the right thing. I will be praying that you know what that right thing is.

  13. Thank you for this wonderful article Rachel! This is really timely for me. As of right now, I’m in a place where I don’t want to be in. I know what my calling is but I don’t know how to get there. And I also know that I need a job that pays so I need to keep on doing my job even though it kills me inside. I don’t know if I’ll ever get out of this limbo but I am optimistic. I know I just need to turn these frustrations into motivations and all these failures into opportunities. I’m still figuring out what to do next but I’ll happily stumble along the way if it means that I’m getting even a millimeter closer to my calling.

    Thanks again for sharing and for letting us share. May God bless you always.

  14. It was powerful. I’m finding myself at the end of a bridge that is slowly burning and I need to either take the plunge or turn back into the flames. I’m not sure what my calling is. My strongest area of growth and community is in music.

    1. Let me tell you…just from these few words you’ve written: you’ve GOT IT. One day at a time. That was me in 2010! Life sucked. Then…something happened. You are going for it and don’t stop.

    2. Heeyy you are getting there! That’s exactly how you find your calling. When there is nothing else you can do, but pursue this one thing that will lead you to your life purpose. Best wishes, the journey is gonna be painful, but it’s totally worth it! Keep going!

  15. It’s a curious thing about the human condition that we can’t really orchestrate ourselves to a “turning point” but rather we have to engage with life to the max so as to give life the chance to throw us kicking and screaming into that blessed hole. Aren’t we a weird lot!

  16. Can I give you a hug, Rachel?! #HUGSSS Thank you for spilling your tears with childlike honesty…thank you for placing one foot forward despite those tears….thank you for never giving up and always being YOU! <3

    And, Jeff, thank you for spearheading a mini-revolution in the minds and hearts of your loyal fans <3

    Kit

    1. Thanks for the hugs!!!! :-)))) And for the encouragement! I can see you smiling through your words!

  17. The unexpected challenge that turned my life around was a stroke! It stopped me in my tracks and took my whole future away, like a Bereavement. But I found a new determination and persistence and a whole new life grew from the ashes. The writing I never had time for now grew into several books and learning to self publish and promote. I have just published my first full length novel and there’s no stopping me.

  18. My calling sounds so vague but I truly believe it is to love people. I’ve done that in so many ways over the years practically and spiritually. I am at the end of a Diploma in Counselling which was a real leap of faith and I have the chance to complete a third year for a full degree. I had to take a job to survive while studying which I enjoy but I feel I am missing out on the call and need to find my way across the bridge to the other side.

    1. I believe loving people is a very real calling! I’ve been doing some study in that area lately and have been so humbled and challenged to make sure that is at the center of everything I do! Don’t give up! We need you!

  19. I wanted to write since I was able to read a book. I’ve written for my job & church, but my only “free” writing was in my journals. When I turned 60, my call was clear: to encourage through written and spoken words. I had my own website with 10-12 writers; wrote a column for another website, had short stories published, even won a regional writing contest. At 72 I am writing my first book.

    1. Wow so inspiring 🙂 !! It’s amazing that you are writing your first book at 72! Best wishes !

  20. Rachel Miller’s story is beautiful. And so well written. It made me feel connected to myself as well as connected to her..

  21. For me, it’s been a gradual unfolding of sorts – what I would have, at one point, called my calling and the work I couldn’t ‘not do’ as Scott Dinsmore used to say, has become more of an idea -helping people and giving the most ofamous myself, every day. When I left a job after graduating with a Masters in Marketing, it was because I was working with organization where I wasneed doing either of those things. I wasn’t growing, nor was I having an impact and knew I couldn’t do this work that started when I arrived at the office in the morning and ended when the strike of 5 o’clock came every afternoon, because I knew there was more to what I wanted my life to represent than just an excel spreadsheet or a finely polished powerpoint that would move a few more units for one of our clients. For me, it was about doing work that connected with me and that became cooking. I started having an impact on the people around me…… but then that idea has evolved…. with the only constant being to do work that I could connect with and make an impact, whIle doing. So what started out as opening a restaurant, soon became mentoring in that restaurant, to now mentoring thousands every week through writing, talks and sharing ideas with the world….. Setbacks? Of course…. theye have allowed me to bethere connect with the work and the people I’m able to touch through it. More than anything, I think it shows them that we’re all in this together.

    It’s not a straight road to success or even understanding the work we are meant to do – often, experiencing the shifts and curves and divergent paths along the way are the greatest ways I’ve helped myself see that maybe I’m on to something.

  22. Congratulations to Rachel and all the others who have commented. I’m finally following through on my ‘someday’ and publishing a series of eBooks composed of articles I’ve written for 30 years (just because I knew someday I’d do something with them). I’m 65 and am proud of me ! I’m not actively marketing them yet so whoever finds them was meant to do so.

    1. This is an exciting step! I’m happy to hear that your years of hard work are now being shared with the rest of the world. 🙂

  23. Amazing and inspiring story. Reminds me of the importance of calling. Thanks for sharing!

    Now that I’m almost out of college, the thought of finding my life’s work has been more real to me than perhaps ever before. For now, I’m putting my focus on growing a web design business that builds and maintains websites; websites which serve as online platforms for busy people with a passion they need to share. This is the plan, but only time will tell where it will take me!

    Thanks for the invitation to share. It always helps to stop and ask ourselves where we’re going.

  24. My story, like Rachel’s and all these are the heart of a new world in work and of course, calling. We see Warren Buffet’s picture every day on all the top news sites but the real American story is here. For me, a 3-decade work life with an upward curve ended just as the Gr. Recession roared in, only, I turned 49. The “calling” part didn’t roar in; it crept in very slowly after loss, more loss and losing just about everything. A Fortune500 career meant nothing to 28 year old’s interviewing me but the real issue transformed from age to sciences. What I mean is that after 3 years of job searching, me and my good old resume meant nothing because I was being tested more than interviewed: psychometrics and the introduction of neuroscience were taking over hiring. What? Companies expected me to complete these short or long profile exams related to my thoughts, values and cultural perspectives – not about how valuable an IT management guy I was.
    I’m not mentioning my book in this post due to self-promoting but here is the calling. I can write a great story and have done so. The book is about what I define, the coming “software-selected” workforce. This became protocol during the recession due to overwhelmed HR offices but the results are punishing, if not discriminatory because people are being job-evaluated according to behavioral science metrics and less for skills. It’s hurting the US workforce, now functioning with only 63% active participation. So, with a ton of rejection and angst and heartbreak comes the story we may never find in the career counseling office at high schools and colleges – because, like Jeff says, it lacks an every-day formula. What it doesn’t lack is reality and truth – my 3 kids and our kids will face the deep inspection on their lives and souls from businesses due to science-based metrics….my calling is to shout it out as a warning and a way to deal with it. For now, I work part-time and pray-to-God some good marketing will move my message.

  25. Fantastic writing and what a great story of such importance to so many people. When I first started reading Jeff’s books and blog, I knew he was someone who affects and effects others lives. The one word in the article that popped out and describes how Jeff helps others, and how we can change our situation, is being ‘persistent.’ Rachel was persistent to not give up on her ministry and she reaped numerous blessings. Jeff is persistent in sharing his works with us so we can also experience a reshaping of our ‘calling.’
    Thank you Rachel and Jeff.

  26. Rachel, this is a powerful and emotional piece that I loved every minute reading. You have an amazing way of painting pictures with words and moving a person through your experience. Thank you for sharing and God bless you on your journey. I am reminded of a text of Scripture that I hope encourages you greatly,

    “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do . . . Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” – (Jn 14:12–14, ESV)

    1. Thank you, Ron. I’m glad it was an encouragement. Thank you for that Scripture!

  27. Rachel thank you for sharing your journey. I am beginning to dare believe that God has a way to unite my passion with vocation. Your story encourages me that though the discovery process may not be easy, it will be worth while.
    Thank you, again.

  28. Rachel, you have shown me yet again how often we simply can’t see. We can’t possibly know what’s ahead. All we can see is what is now. And it looks and feels awful. We can’t see God working either. We say we trust that he is, and yet find it hard to believe wholeheartedly. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt this way too.
    I commend you for walking through that door to what felt wrong and like defeat. How you responded to this situation allowed God to do his work in and through you. And now you are an encouragement to us as well. Blessings to you, Rachel. May you continue to walk through the doors God puts in your path, no matter what seems like it is on the other side.

  29. Wow Rachel, thanks a ton for sharing your story 🙂 Very inspiring. I too found my calling while going thru a very dark phase. Everything else had crumbled, and just one thing was left. Right now I’m working on that.

    Jeff, stay blessed! Not only have you found your own calling, but are helping numerous others in seeking their own. Amazing post, thank you so much for sharing!

  30. Thank you for sharing!
    I have no idea what my calling is, other than to serve faithfully where I am. I’m not in the career of my passion. Due to our financial situation (the result of circumstances someone else’s negligence created), I am working three jobs with no time to devote to my gifts.
    But I LOVE all the folks I work for, and truly enjoy serving them, so I am praising God for this blessing even if I’m not where I think I should be.
    But I still struggle with wondering if I’ve settled our if this is just a season.
    It’s hard to be 52 years old still trying to figure things out.

    1. Joy, I’ll be praying for you. It’s awesome that you are so blessed to serve your coworkers. Joy in our service gives strength for our service. And I KNOW you need strength working 3 jobs! That is very familiar territory. Keep smiling and praising!

  31. This is just good stuff. It is so hard and brave to see your passion through to the end. I am especially glad that yours is such a worthy goal!

    I have been convinced of my calling since college (lucky, I know). I wanted so badly to be a missionary in China. Weeks before I left for Xi’an, the university where I was going to teach English called to say there was a problem with my paperwork and invited me to apply again the next year. I was crushed. Since then, I have had the opportunity to be a “missionary” to people from all over the world right here in the United States.

    I thought I would be living in China and ministering to people very different than myself, but I’ve stayed pretty close to my hometown and ministered to lots of kids who are very much like me at the church where I am the youth pastor. I love every minute of it and wouldn’t change a single thing!

    1. I thought I would be in China at one point too. I even spent ten days there with a group from which several people HAVE gone back full-time. But it wasn’t the right thing, or the right time. But a simple, almost joking conversation on the outskirts of a phone call during that decision-making process ended being a stepping stone toward what I’m doing now. It just amazes me how often detours become the best path we could have taken.

      What you’re doing now is awesome! SO many of our kids really need someone to come alongside of them. Thank you for being that one for the kids in your area!

      1. Wow, thanks for the reply and encouragement, Rachel.
        I looked at Forbid Them Not, but do you write somewhere regularly?

        I went to China for 10 days as well, and loved it! A man literally walked right up to me, asked me if I was a Christian, and how he could become a follower of Jesus. o_o
        I thought for sure that was God telling me I needed to be there, but I definitely wouldn’t change anything between now and then!

        1. Jacob, that is awesome! I do have a couple of blogs, though they have been suffering a bit while everything else has been going on. One is for the ministry ( https://forbidthemnot.wordpress.com/ ) another is my author blog ( https://barrenfieldsfruitfulgardens.wordpress.com/ ) The third is one I started just before things got really crazy, so it only has a few posts, but the concept is very dear to my heart, and I’m hoping to pick it back up in the next month or so. ( https://shadowsofchivalry.com/ )

          What about you? Do you write somewhere regularly? I would love to check it out.

            1. Will do. Drop me a note (any email link on the Forbid Them Not website) when it’s up and going. I look forward to checking it out!

  32. Wow Rachel! Thanks for sharing your story. So glad that you did not give up. I think life has an interesting way of pushing us in the direction we need to go even when it looks contrary to what we want.

    RIght now my life is filled with so much stuff and I feel too busy. Slowly, I can see layers of things being removed from my life that are not meant to be there and then I know I will be left with what is truly meant to be. I get anxious about it sometimes, but the further along I get on my journey, the more clarity I gain about what I am supposed to be doing. It’s a faith walk sometimes.

    Hang in there everyone!

    1. It is definitely a faith walk! I think life is a little bit like a cabbage. The best part, the heart of it, is in the middle, but to get there you do have to peel back those layers. 🙂

  33. This was a great post for me to read today. I feel very encouraged after reading it. I believe I know what my calling is, but I’ve spent the majority of my life trying to stuff it, deny it, neglect it, and otherwise make myself completely unhappy while scraping together a living doing things that have nothing to do with my vision and passion. I’ve been thwarting myself, stalling, even sabotaging myself. As the years go by, things don’t improve even though I know what I need to do. This is the year to quit doing this to myself and take that leap of faith. When I read about people such as you, who have stepped off the ledge and been successful, I know I can be successful too and finally follow my passion. Thank you.

  34. Thanks for sharing Rachel – I Ioved reading your story. It reconfirms what I have learnt to be true – it’s often when we leave what it is we feel we ought to do that we find a better way back. I am a huge fan of “The Art of Work” but was hesitant to read this post, worried it might be more about God than the book. I need not have worried. On reading the comments and replies I acknowledge the importance of God to you and your readers, but what I see that shines through more brightly is simply Giving. Jeff’s book, podcasts and other materials have helped me immensely on my path. As I build my bridge ‘God’ continues to be a roadblock, as I suspect is the case for others. In any case, I am enjoying finding my voice and am encouraged by your words.
    ‘The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away’ – Pablo Picasso.

    1. Giving is so very important. I’ve been studying what it is to live a life of charity and I’ve discovered that love gives. True charity is love by choice and by action. It gives what is needed not necessarily what is wanted. And it isn’t always easy. In fact, it rarely is. Jeff is an amazing example of that kind of approach to life and business!

  35. Hi Rachel! One thing I love about your story is your willingness to cry out to God while clinging by your fingertips. It’s so easy to cut off communication with Him and others when our hearts are breaking, when what we need in those seasons is His wisdom and love. I’m encouraged and inspired by your faith! Thank you for writing this piece, and thanks to Jeff for sharing with us! Many blessings on your journey!

    1. To be perfectly honest, there were moments when I was tempted not to cry out. I was tempted to quit. But then I remember all of His past rescues! 🙂 I’m glad it was an encouragement to you!

  36. Rachel, if Jeff’s Art of Work is the ancient manuscript, your story is another brilliant illumination within those pages. For me, a heightened understanding of any concept depends on knowing the real-life stories. Thank you (and Jeff) for sharing yours.

  37. Thank you for sharing your story and the emotional struggle. I found it inspiring and motivating. Having been through some tough times the words you spoke to the mother struck a chord. Best wishes for your future and incredible work.

  38. Thank you for sharing your personal experience and comparing to Jeff’s book. For me personally, after reading Jeff’s book, I don’t feel like such a loser. You are authentic and we are lucky to have you. thank you

  39. Beautiful story, Rachel. Another example of how God will never us nor forsake us, and when we are following the calling we are meant to have, He opens doors we could not open ourselves. And these moms are the better for having you there for them. 🙂

  40. Great post and a very inspiring story! Failure is certainly the source of probably the most important lessons in life. Thanks for this Rachel!

    -Matt Kohn

  41. It’s so encouraging to witness/hear a dream implants and grows. So happy for you. Such a beautiful story! Thank you, Rachel

  42. Blessings to you Rachel Miller!!! Nice post. Better life. (The way it should be.) Your article spoke to my soul. Thanks. I love when that happens.

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