I was miserable in my job. When I interviewed for the position, one of the questions I’d asked was whether they functioned well as a team. The answer had been a resounding YES. The reality, however, was something very different. Brittle laughter could be heard in staff meetings when a joke was cracked—usually at the expense of another staff person. They didn’t know how to function as a team, and I didn’t know what to do about it. I had been hired to bring change into this organization, but at that point in my career I didn’t know anything about leading change. And I was the first outside person they’d hired in twenty-three years. To top it all off, I was busy climbing my own career ladder and much of my life was all about me.
Eventually, I was told the position would be eliminated and I’d be given time to find another job. I had negotiated an agreement for sufficient time to look for a position that would fit my needs, and within a couple of weeks I got a call to interview for a position in Chicago’s inner city. This not-for-profit organization was in turn-around mode, and the leadership had a reputation for making tough, business-minded decisions that were often perceived as ruthless.
Surely God didn’t want me to go there?
I decided to go to the interview, if only for the experience, but I also was hoping to discover some redeeming qualities about the organization that might give me the courage to accept the position if it was offered to me.
The all day Friday interview was as fast and tough as I’ve ever experienced; half-hour slots with various leaders and board members; little time with the people I would lead; and an offer of employment at 3:30 that same afternoon. I told them I would let them know my decision by the end of the weekend. I prayed, I wrestled—and I decided God surely could not intend for a young, white woman from a farm in Indiana to go serve in an inner city housing project. And so out of fear, I turned down the position on Sunday evening.
On Monday morning I heard the words, “You’re fired!” Stunned, I called my husband, who came over with some boxes and we started packing up my office. Just then, the phone rang—it was the leadership in from the organization in Chicago, wondering why I had said no and what it would take for me to reconsider.
I accepted the position and my time there became one of the best experiences of my career. It was a delightful place with plenty of diversity and people who really cared about each other. We learned how to function as a team and I learned how to serve others. God used this experience as a wakeup call and taught me some very valuable lessons about integrity and service. Have you experienced an upside to being fired?