I wanted to be a teacher. After taking a year of education classes in college, I decided to go in a different direction. I ended up with a degree in Communication. Or as some may say, Communications. Depends on whether you look at any form of connecting with another entity as communication or if you look at the myriad ways of making a connection communications. Just as confusing as the degree itself! Many earn that degree and wonder now what?
For me, I knew what I wanted to do; public relations for a professional sports team. However, I didn’t have an inkling how to open that door and I had bills to pay. So, upon graduating from college, I went to work at my local church in Springfield, Missouri. Not because it took me on a clear career path, but because I enjoyed the people at my church and they paid me. After a summer interning with the children’s ministry, I assisted in the weekday preschool that fall. Working with two, three and four-year olds. I can still see their innocent faces. And feel their confidence. We worked hard every day; sculpting play dough, learning letters, making shapes out of snacks. What a rewarding experience to celebrate successes with these kids (because when you are of preschool age, there are more firsts worth celebrating than you can count) and to help them realize their potential... You are smart, you can be kind, you must never forget God loves you!
For five months, I worked with these kids. The January following my college graduation, I landed an internship with a public relations firm in St. Louis. I think it paid minimum wage (I think), the position was temporary and I still didn’t know how to accomplish what I wanted to do with my life, but I took the job. My time with preschoolers had come to an end. I didn’t know where this new journey would lead me, but God was teaching me that I rarely, if ever, get to know that. Life doesn’t work that way.
One of my last days at the preschool, the other teachers took me out to lunch. These ladies were my church family, my mentors. Representatives of the precious comfort I was saying goodbye to. As we left the restaurant that day, one of the ladies came up to me and said, “You think you’re done being a teacher, but you aren’t. Once a teacher, always a teacher.” I just smiled. Didn’t she know about my budding career as a public relations professional?
I have thought of this comment a thousand times over the years. As I became a media relations coach; the times I lectured on public relations as a career; the classes I led on how to market yourself and effective networking; the numerous Sunday school classes I have taught; every season when I prepare to lead a new Bible study. Upon close examination, I have played the teacher role a lot.
Recently, I polled my friends and family on Facebook. I asked them what they had wanted to do when they grew up and further, were they doing that now? The responses were intriguing (I am quite certain there are some future guest bloggers among them). The majority of responders don’t do what they dreamed about as kids. Some have careers similar to an original dream, while still others went in a completely different direction. As I read the responses, I couldn’t help but wonder what has happened throughout our lives to prepare us for now. Can my friends and family trace ways God prepared them? And, like me, can they see themselves doing something similar to the childhood dream, but maybe in a different way than originally imagined?
If you ask me today, “what do you do for a living,” I just smile. I learned from a mentor a long time ago, skill sets learned from one career feed into the next and the next. Once a teacher, always a teacher.