By Johna Renee Hill
As nervous as I was, I always looked forward to my annual performance reviews. I wanted to hear how well I consummated my job description over the past year and areas where I can improve and get better for the following year. During my annual reviews, I would always receive feedback, such as, “You possess a strong work ethic. Your work ethic exemplifies commitment to giving your best always, whether it be a project, task, or team. You are someone we can rely on to get the job done with excellence!”
Having maintained some form of employment since the age of 11, work became all I knew. It was what I subconsciously used to define me. I knew that there was more depth to who I am as a daughter of God the Father and who I am to my family, friends, and community, and I would even use this to describe myself, but the truth is my work had forged a purpose in my life that put my authentic calling on the back burner.
Now, after working 25 years nonstop (without breaks), I found myself at a crossroads of being overworked, grieved, and depressed because my forged purpose had taken over my entire life! My career became not only a distraction but an idol that kept me from obeying God wholeheartedly.
Early 2020, before the COVID pandemic breakout, I was working 18-20-hour days six days a week, neglecting my family, friends, and health because I was loyal to a fault. I was more faithful to the company I worked for the past 12 years than I was to God and myself, which caused me to become internally grieved in my spirit. But why? Why had I allowed myself to get so engraved in my work that I began to neglect “life” itself?
When I began to ask myself these tough questions, I realized that my work had become an idol; it also became a daunting distraction to prevent me from dealing with myself and my problems. It prevented me from addressing JOHNA and allowing God to bring me to the next level in Him and operating my gifts.
Work had become the toxic cycle I used to maneuver in the Rat-Race. I had succumbed to it immensely, and I gladly used it as an excuse to keep me from growing in the LORD. I had become a busy body like Martha (see Luke 10:38-42). But once again, why?
I had become so addicted to work or anything else that I kept my goals on the shelf. I always seemed to find a way to put everything and everyone before my own personal development goals and God-given visions for my life. I had gotten used to it. Work was just the new scapegoat I subconsciously used to deter me from allowing God to work in me, perfecting the gifts He gave me. It was time for an out!
In the fall of 2019, I knew that a shift had to and was about to occur. God had been speaking to me in a still, small voice, preparing me for the unavoidable change He was orchestrating. Not only was my spirit grieved, but my physical body was also exhausted from working like a machine for the past 2 1/2 years.
After Hurricane Harvey hit the Gulf Coast in 2017, I took on a significant project. As a result, it was nonstop work for 2 1/2 years to help the community recover and restore a new sense of normalcy. As rewarding as helping the community was, it was also taxing on myself, my team, and colleagues. Simultaneously, my baby sister finished most of her senior year in high school and extracurricular events without me. I was missing practically everything, and this is when the shift began, and it became apparent that I was overworking and suffering from burnout.
During this time, the Holy Spirit began to speak to me regarding loyalty. There is nothing wrong with being loyal and committed to a task, but it is entirely wrong when that “task” comes before your commitment to God and yourself. Ouch, ouch, ouch, is how I felt from this conviction!
During this time of revelation, I began to prepare for the inevitable shift I knew was coming. God’s still small voice was getting louder and louder, and I knew it was only a matter of time before I had to MAKE A DECISION.
Words of Wisdom
In February 2020, I made one of the most complex decisions: walk away from that which was consuming my commitment and time away from my service to God. Yep, I decided to take a leap of faith and walk away from my “forged purpose” in work to fulfill my spiritual calling and seek my divine purpose in God.
Often, we get so caught up in our talents that we neglect our spiritual gift. Selah! There are things that we are naturally good at, some things that come easy, that we find pleasure in doing. We often went to school and obtained degrees and certificates to help fine-tune these talents. However, we cannot allow our natural talents to supersede the GIFTS that God Himself has placed in each one of us. Our natural abilities are to make way for our gifting. Romans 12:3-8 speaks of these gifts and how God has distributed to each of us different gifts to fulfill His purpose.
Walking away from a generous salary, benefits, excellent work culture, great team, and work that forged purpose in my life was difficult and took a new level of faith. It took a new level of trust. Although I had taken many major faith leaps in the past, those leaps were before I had a family depending on me financially and had countless responsibilities to heed. But if I can trust my natural self to take care of my needs, why couldn’t I trust God as my Provider to take care of ALL my needs?
It was a distorted reality I had accepted. When the truth is “A man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men” Proverbs 18:16 (KJV). Furthermore, “Every good gift and perfect gift is from above and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, nor shadow of turning” James 1:17 (KJV).
God was faithful in my season of idolatry to see that my family lacked for nothing. How much more faithful will He supersede my expectations when I submit my loyalty to Him by allowing His fullness to be made whole through me while operating in my gifting? He is faithful to do just that!
Since shifting my loyalty and stepping out on faith with leaving my work, I have lacked for nothing and watched God perform miracles for myself and my family! If this is you, and you are finding yourself faced with the decision to fulfill your calling, I leave you to ponder on the following:
1. Are you currently grieved with where you are in life? If so, why? It is a tale-tale sign of needing a spiritual realignment.
2. Inventory your life. Are you operating out of your natural talents or your spiritual gifting?
3. Are you trusting God to guide you?
4. If God was entirely using you, how would it feel and look?
Once you have asked yourself these tough questions and answered them truthfully, I believe God will lead you to your next step of trusting Him! The shift from The Love of Loyalty for people, places, and things as forged purpose, to be faithful to God.
JOHNA RENEE HILL is a daughter of the King, wife, Author, Speaker, Community Leader, and Business Strategist. She is a strong advocate for individuals from underserved communities with over 15 years of experience in Social Services and Project Management. Johna enjoys traveling the world while helping her clients expand their businesses.
Contact Johna: firstname.lastname@example.org