For several years, I owned my own design firm, working on a broad spectrum of assignments and developing a good list of appreciative clientele. I was reasonably happy with my success but often wished that I could pool all of my talents together into one directed activity. I had placed my resume with an employment agency to see what opportunities might show up, but to no avail.
One day I went to a Christian Science lecture and found the speaker inspiring. I sensed a Christly presence in her that I wanted to know better. At the conclusion of the lecture, I asked if I might speak with her privately. I explained that I had several diverse talents, but, up to that point, had found no occupation that would utilize them all. What she said rings in my ears to this day: "You must put yourself in a position where you are most able to serve."
For the next several weeks, I whole-heartedly embraced the idea of service and was confident that there was an ideal position for me. Soon, the employment agency with whom I had had no contact with for over a year began calling me with requests for interviews. Curiously, these invitations were all coming from one particular area of the country, and none of them sounded interesting. After I turned down several requests, it began to dawn on me that there must be a purpose to all of this, although I had no idea what it was. Reluctantly, I accepted two offers for interviews, and plans were made to fly to a particular city to begin the process. On the second leg of the trip, a woman got on the plane and sat beside me. I struck up a conversation with her and learned that she was a college professor in the city where I was headed. I informed her that I was an engineer, designer, and artist looking for employment. Then she said something that caught my attention: for three years the university where she taught had searched in vain for an engineer who could teach art and design. My ears began to tingle. I immediately knew why I was on that particular plane, sitting in that particular seat, and going to that particular city. This woman, who I later learned was a Christian Scientist, had just described the position where I was most able to serve. Without the idea being brought to me in this special way, I never would have sought out teaching as a profession.
With portfolio in hand, I called the Director of the School of Art, told him that I was the person he was searching for, and said that I had rented a car and was on my way to meet him. (I was ignorant of university hiring procedures, but I was being moved by a power not one's own and was absolutely certain that my intuition was correct.) He informed me that the search was now closed and that they had chosen two candidates for interviews in the coming weeks, but I could come for a visit if I wished. After a short introduction, the director decided to walk me to the Design Department, which was temporarily housed on the second floor of the health center. He told me that I probably would not meet anyone because it was so far out of the way, but after a few minutes, the entire nominating committee was standing in a circle around us. The director was flabbergasted. He said that if he had called a meeting, he would not have expected this many to attend. I was invited to have an interview right there on the spot. After a tour of the facilities, I returned home, happy and expectant. (I share these details to illustrate the unity of Spirit to its idea.) I knew that this was my new work, and nothing could stop its proper unfoldment. It never occurred to me that I could be rejected.
Two months later, I received a call from the director who said that the two chosen candidates were not successful and that the position had been reopened. He invited me to come and teach a class. Several faculty members called to tell me what they would like me to teach; each request was different, and I had never even studied some of the particular subjects they desired. I was given one hour to meet their expectations. After a few days of quiet searching, some ideas began to develop that were different from the faculty's specific requests but still encompassed all of their wishes. I decided to follow these inclinations and developed a lesson plan.
At my presentation, everyone in the room participated and seemed to enjoy the exercises and the questions and answers that I had offered. The nominating committee immediately went into private session to discuss my qualifications for the position. A few hours later, the director emerged and declared that my presentation was very successful but that I did not meet the job description, thus putting the committee in stalemate. In a week or two, the job description was rewritten in a way that made me qualified. They offered me the position even though I did not meet the normal degree requirements of the university, stating that my national reputation circumvented the requirement.
Negotiations for a contract followed. During these conversations, I never said a word about salary, knowing that whatever it was would meet my need. The director called occasionally to tell me that the money he had to offer me was inadequate but that he would keep probing for new sources. I just listened, expressed gratitude, and could not help but smile throughout this entire process. In a few weeks, they offered me an assistant professorship at the highest starting salary anyone had ever been offered at that university.
Teaching fulfilled the cherished desire
to serve in my highest capacity. For the first time, I felt all
my talents being utilized, and I was sharing them freely. After
three years, I was recognized for my teaching excellence by the
school faculty. The following year, I was nominated for Teacher
of the Year by the students, becoming one of thirty-five faculty
members recognized for their contributions.
George Denninger ©