Maddie twirls a strand of hair, slumping deeper into the aluminum folding chair as she sends and reads text messages. Ben paces, looking out the high basement windows at nothing in particular. Sean sits ramrod straight, pecking on his smart phone. Laura looks anxiously around the room. She smiles when she catches someone’s eye, trying unsuccessfully to engage each participant in superficial conversation.
At seven minutes after 8:00 Karen bangs through the basement door of St. Stephen’s Community Church. “Hi everyone. Sorry I’m running late tonight.” She drops her briefcase and purse on the table. “Got out of work late and the traffic was insane.”
Sean looks up from his smart phone for the first time since arriving ten minutes ago. “At least you have a job.” He flashes a half-hearted grin to soften the sarcasm, then resumes his activities. Maddie giggles, then catches herself and stares back down at her i-phone.
Karen ignores Sean’s needle. “Okay, let’s get started. This is the second of our four sessions on locating the perfect next career. Last week we introduced ourselves and went over our resumes. Our assignment for this week was to think about our long term career goals and strategies to achieve these.” Karen looks around the room. “Ben, would you like to start?”
“Sure, ok. Well… .” Ben stops pacing and perches on the end of a chair. He looks perplexed. “Long term goals? I just need to make some money. I’m old enough to collect social security, but everyone says I should put that off as long as I can. I’m okay with that…I’d rather work anyway. But who’s going to hire a laid off mechanic? I already got replaced by someone half my age at half my wage.”
“That’s the truth pal,” Sean says, still engrossed in his smart phone dealings.
Karen turns to him. “Tell us what you have come up with Sean.”
Sean hesitates, then sticks his phone in his pocket. “My long term goals are to climb the corporate ladder, become president of a large financial company, and … oh, wait a minute… I already did that.”
Karen smiles. “So we know that didn’t work out too well for you. Any other thoughts now that you’ve become acquainted with government regulations and downsizing?”
Sean turns serious. “Frankly, you’re right. My corporate goals were a big bust. Even when things were going well, it wasn’t all that great. I’m actually enjoying being home with my family. We’re talking about maybe moving…downsizing ourselves… and starting a family business.”
“That’s great Sean. What are your long range goals, Laura?” asks Karen.
“Now that I’m single again, I need to support my children. My ex- is sending me some child support but it is not enough.”
“Have you thought about what you are interested in doing?”
“I saw an ad from our local community college last week. It talked about career testing and counseling. Of course this group is helping too… .” Laura trails off before continuing. “This may sound silly, given my circumstances, but the college has a certificate program to become a nursing assistant. I actually would like to learn something new and use my skills to help others.”
“Good for you,” Karen says. “Maddie, you’ve been quiet tonight. What are your thoughts about career goals.”
Maddie frowns and starts to fidget in her chair. “I think I’m done with goal setting. When I decided to major in business everyone said I could land a $35,000 job right out of college. I have a part-time job as a barista! I should have majored in creative writing like I wanted to in the first place.”
“Excellent goals! Take care of our families, use our talents, adjust our expectations,” Karen says. “Now, let’s get to work on implementing. Our ultimate goal is this: Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.* Ben, let’s start with you… .”
*Colossians 3:23, NIV
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