The Next Thing

One of my baby information books said I need to sign the baby up for preschool now. Are you serious? He’s still in the womb! Is there really a three year waiting list for preschool? Which got me thinking about school. What is 3 year old preschool anyway? It exists just to prepare you for 4 year old preschool, which exists to prepare you for kindergarten. In fact every level of school is to prepare you for the next level.

I remember several teachers saying I had to learn this because I “would need it next year.” This was true especially in junior high. Everyday of 8th grade I was late. I would walk into the office to get a pass to class and Mrs. Quinn (mother of our current governor) would write me a pass and say “Debbie, you can’t do this next year in high school.” Being late wasn’t completely my fault since my mom drove me to school and she had to wake my little brother up and bring him with, but that’s beside the point.

Obviously school is very important. But I think the idea of preparing us for the next thing can create a challenging mindset. For the majority of us, it is decided that after junior high we go to high school, and after high school we go to college, and after college we enter the real world. Although that was how it was for me a decade ago, but now college probably just prepares you for a masters degree. Either way, you think after 20+ years of “preparation” you would enter the real world in a management position, not an entry-level, anyone-can-do-this-job position.

School ingrains in our minds an expectation of advancing to the next thing, not to mention getting regular progress reports via tests, homework, and report cards, which don’t exist in the real world, leaving most people little feedback on the quality of their work.

What’s wrong with expecting the next thing, you ask. I’m not sure it’s biblical to expect advancement. I do know that we are supposed to be content in all circumstances. It’s hard to be content when you are waiting for a promotion or pay increase. God puts people in a variety of jobs and we should learn to be grateful and content with what we have, not comparing ourselves to others, but embracing where God has placed us today.

After college I worked in a start-up ministry for a year while volunteering with a youth ministry. I felt like God was calling me to be more involved with the youth ministry, so I quit the job that paid me, volunteered 20+ hours a week with youth and worked part-time at a coffee shop. I was living in Wisconsin where things are cheaper, but there were still many times I needed God to provide financially and He did. Meanwhile I’d come home to Chicago for my friends’ bridal showers where it seemed like everyone was in law school or med school or had some lucrative amazing job. Then they’d ask what I’m doing… But I wasn’t ashamed. I knew I was right where God wanted me. And the coffee shop was my favorite job I’ve ever had.

Instead of looking for the next thing, learn to be content. Look to Jesus as our example who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage. Rather, He made Himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:6-11

When was the last time you made yourself nothing and took on the role of a servant? Jesus wasn’t promoted to earth, He was demoted. He was sent to earth as a man, a servant. It wasn’t until after He accomplished God’s purpose that God exalted (promoted) Jesus and gave Him the name above all others.

People say to accept any job you can get these days because of the economy. But regardless of the economy, I’m saying take a good look at your life: are you living in contentment? Have you humbled yourself? Are you willing to be a servant? Are you willing to do whatever God has purposed for you?

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One thought on “The Next Thing

  1. Well said, Debbie! Not until I became content with my life right now rather than looking to the future did my life fill up with more of His joy. And don’t worry about 3-year-old preschool. Our daughter is 3 & we are still deciding what we are going to do come September.

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