When I graduated from college, I had my heart set on becoming a professional full-time translator. For four years, I’d devoted every bit of spare time to studying my language pair and taking translation courses. I loved the challenge of transposing meaning from one language to another, and I had already been a volunteer translator for a few years. Before I even had my diploma in hand, I’d already applied to over 30 translation agencies and had done dozens of sample translations. When I heard back from several translation agencies, I was thrilled. “We’ll contact you when we have work for your language set and field of expertise,” they said. I knew that in no time I’d be spending my days doing what I loved.

But after a month went by without any word from those translation agencies, a sinking feeling began creeping into my heart. The dream that had seemed to be within my grasp was slipping away. As a young, inexperienced translator with a language set and field of expertise that was not in high commercial demand, regular clients were hard to come by.

Reluctantly, I started looking into other job options, all the while struggling under a cloud of gloom. An elementary school advertised a vacancy for an English teacher, and frustrated from sitting at home waiting for work, I set my shattered dream aside and prepared my teaching demonstration. To my surprise—and slight horror—I was hired!

Teaching elementary school had never been on my list of dream jobs, because I had convinced myself that I wasn’t patient enough to work with young children. As expected, the cacophony of high-pitched yelling drowned out my voice, and my lively young students were experts at bouncing and wiggling their way out of listening to me explain about nouns and grammar. Yet as I took time to understand the personalities behind the bright, eager faces, I was receiving lessons in patience, love, and compassion that I never would’ve learned as a full-time translator. Each day brought stressful situations that drove me to my knees in prayer, but being pushed out of my comfort zone on a daily basis strengthened my flexibility and resilience.

I’m grateful that Jesus did not immediately open an opportunity for me to pursue my heart’s desire, or I would have missed out on the fulfillment and personal growth that is part of a teacher’s challenging job. I’ve learned anew that Jesus, my career coach, will lead me to where I can learn the most, even if that’s not what I originally had in mind. “The Lord works out everything to its proper end.”1

  1. Proverbs 16:4 NIV