“The class of 2015: 600 Game Changers, in 20 industries, transforming the world.” The headline on the cover of the famous business magazine announced the article featuring the astonishing list of 30 people under 30 years old who are making history with their fast-growing businesses and discoveries. They are scientists, app developers, on-line attorneys and social media moguls, to name a few. It’s pretty amazing to see these young faces invading the headlines, with bank accounts and estates that mount up to millions of dollars within a short period of time. Their faces beam from the magazine pages. It’s no wonder. They believe they’re living the dream. Early. Very early.
My hat goes off to them. They’re creative, business savvy and hard working, and I understand their excitement. I started my first business in Brazil when I was only 21 years old, fresh out of college. And although it eventually became quite successful, it certainly didn’t happen overnight. But regardless, I remember thinking that I was indeed on top of the world. At that time, I believed to be on the fast track to complete fulfillment in life, blinded by the false idea that financial and professional success were synonyms of fulfillment and joy.
The magazine’s cover story made me think of another recent article, an interesting twist on the concept of fulfilment. The story was about a likewise accomplished businesswoman who found herself feeling empty and unsatisfied. As her 40th birthday approached, she started thinking about her routine and realized that nothing on her agenda filled the longings in her heart. She had been an ice skater as a child and had stopped training when it became obvious that she wasn’t talented enough to chase the Olympic dream. While soul-searching, it became clear that her days twirling on ice were her happiest. Today, she is the only 40 year old to be found on her neighborhood ice skating ring every Tuesday and Thursday morning, while taking lessons among giggly 7 and 8 year olds.
Her story made me smile. As my 40th birthday approached, I felt God calling me out of my comfort zone and into uncharted territory, as he made it very clear that I was to start a writing and speaking ministry. I was challenged to start something new, at a stage in life when most people are fully established in their careers. I remembered Moses’ excuses when God called him to deliver Israel from Egypt. “I can’t do it, Lord,” I murmured. I felt inadequate, unfit for the task. As I shared my vision with those around me, I received support from family and several friends, but also much resistance and skepticism from several others. And yet, the longing remained.
At an age where the headlines screamed I was too old to start pursuing my dream, I chose to step out of my familiar surroundings and say yes to the call. I didn’t see the next steps, but I trusted that the one who began the work in me would lead me on. And so he has. Each step of obedience has been honored with one opened door after another, and an unprecedented sense of peace, true joy and fulfillment that remains to this day.
It’s not easy to change the course of one’s professional or ministerial careers and step into the shadows of the unknown. But I am living proof that, regardless of the age and stage you may be in life, conquering your fears and following God’s direction is always best. Because he always honors those who step forward, knees shaking, in the direction he points them to.