9 Years, 9 Jobs, 9 Lessons

Over the past 9 years, I’ve had 9 different jobs in varying capacities and functions. Before you write me off as capricious and fickle, consider this. The average number of jobs for folks aged 20-29 in America is 7.

Since age 20, I’ve held 6 occupations. 1 more to go!

Throughout the years, I’ve learned much; strengths, weaknesses, desires, passions. Most importantly, I’ve learned about God’s grace and His ability to redeem my mistakes and reconcile my decisions…

Even the ones I made before I knew Him.

1. Emergency Medical Technician

During my high school career, I worked as a volunteer EMT on my town’s ambulance corps. When I turned 18, I became a full-time employee. I worked evening and overnight shifts. I would usually sleep for a few hours during my shift and get up for school at 7 AM.

I saw everything in that job. From the deep, dark depths of human depravity to the immeasurable joy of a newborn child. I got to experience what real, tangible compassion looks like. I learned to embrace life’s precious moments without falling into despair.

Lesson: Human suffering is real and messy. Life is a fragile thing, but there is somehow still hope. Although I didn’t know really God at this point in my life, He was able to reveal His faithfulness to me; even in the midst of utter darkness.

2. Special Forces Wanna-Be

After high school, I joined the Air Force. I was on the path to being in Pararescue. This was essentially the Air Force’s version of the Navy SEALs, with a tinge of combat medic thrown in. It seemed adventurous and exciting.

I had a severe case of the flu on the front end of our indoctrination training. Two weeks later, I would drop out in the middle of a 6 mile 70-pound ruck-sack run and wash out of the program. In hind-sight, this is probably the best thing that could have ever happened to me.

Lesson: I wasn’t given life to take life. As glamorous as it seems to jump out of airplanes and play the hero, real life looks a lot different than the movies. I honestly don’t believe that was God’s will for my life. I wasn’t listening, but He was still leading the way.

3. Ground Radar Maintenance Technician

After my stint in Pararescue, the powers-that-be allowed me to fill out a sheet with the top 5 jobs that I would like to cross-train into. My 5 picks were firefighter, jet mechanic, military police, and two other that I can’t remember.

They looked at my ASVAB scores, crumpled up my sheet, and told me that electronics would be the best use of my abilities. I would go on to learn a valuable trade in a field that I had absolutely no interest in. I would learn that I could excel in a specific vocation (which I did,) but be miserable at the same time.

Lesson: My identity is not established in my capability or vocational aptitude. My identity is established in Christ and God’s will for my life. This was a lesson hard learned and fundamentally unrealized apart from a relationship with Him.

4. Weapons System Manufacturer

In between my Air Force career and my undergraduate studies at Berklee College of Music, I worked at Hamilton Sundstrand building weapons systems for F-15 fighter jets. It sounds fancy, but it wasn’t terribly complicated work.

I would spend 12 hours a day, 6 days a week hunched over a workbench for the next 6 months. I was working to build up a financial cushion for my time in college. I established a lot of financial security during that time, but at terrible expense.

Of course I didn’t know it at the time, but this would be the last summer in which my father would still be alive. Those precious last months that could have been spent with him and my family were spent in a cold workshop; alone.

Lesson: Don’t dwell on tomorrow at the expense of today. God wants us here and now. As Matthew 6:34 would tell us, we’re not to inordinately worry about tomorrow. Today has its own troubles.

5. Restaurant Server

This would be my bread and butter throughout college. I funded my bachelor’s degree through a combination of the Montgomery GI Bill, student loans, and 30 hours a week running my tail off in a neighborhood bar & grill.

Working in a restaurant in Boston, MA, I would experience people of all styles and backgrounds. Abnormal was normal and in order to relate, I had to get past appearances and petty differences. I had to engage people on a human to human level.

Lesson: We are all uniquely designed on the outside, but equally broken and hurting on the inside. God’s love is not contingent upon your conformity to a certain style or mode of thought. The path to God is Christ, and His invitation is available to all.

6. Professional Guitarist

I would travel New England with a couple of different country bands. I also had the privilege of playing on a USO tour in Kuwait and Iraq. Finally, I would play professionally all over Nashville, the Southeast, and Texas.

This was my artistic gift. This was also my obsession. It was my idol. Hours of practice, unhealthy expectations, and constant comparison were the main themes in my life. I was pretty darn good, but in all the wrong ways.

Lesson: Music was my savior. My talent was my god. An unhealthy emphasis on what was supposed to be a good thing would ultimately rule my world. This disconnect would poison my relationships, overtake my priorities, and cause me to feel hopelessly inadequate.

7. Technical Manager

In a slow season of work as a guitarist, I took a position at Chuck E Cheese as their technical manager. Utilizing my previous electronics experience, I worked on the video games, kitchen equipment, and robot show. As embarrassing as it is, this was kind of fun at times. I played a lot of Street Hoops.

I was in a season of doubt and I latched onto the first solid opportunity that came my way. It wasn’t a bad job, but it was not what I was supposed to be doing. My tenure there would last for a staggering 5 weeks.

Lesson: Don’t settle. I accepted a position that I knew was completely wrong for me. Why? I was scared. I saw my bank account dwindling and I doubted God’s provision. I didn’t pray or seek His wisdom. I went with what was easy instead of attempting to discern His will.

8. Real Estate Agent

The life of a professional musician was not the life for me. I enjoyed being a rock star for 3 hours a week, but never felt whole. Late nights in venues and life on the road just weren’t my cup of tea. I felt like I was made for so much more.

The story of how I landed on real estate is long and twisted, but suffice it to say that my entrepreneurial spirit was to blame. I walked into an opportunity for unlimited income potential with dollar signs in my eyes.

This would be a year of abundant transformation in my life. The person I was when I entered the field quickly disappeared and a new one took over. The dollar signs disappeared and a passion for loving and serving and ministering to people entered my life. This was a good thing.

Lesson: There is no greater reward than investing in others and helping them realize their goals. Financial gain is a welcome benefit of pursuing that end, but it can never be the focus. I’m immensely grateful for that revelation.

9. Leadership Consultant

This is where I am today. I’m still in real estate and happily serving my clients to the best of my ability, but this is my passion. I love people. I love helping people grow. I love helping people help other people grow. You can see where this is going.

I’m blessed with the chance to invest in other leaders and help them grow their skills. I get to put every talent and ability that God has blessed me with to use while doing that. The best part? Each and every one of these opportunities is a gift and has absolutely nothing to do with my own power or will.

Lesson: I am exactly where God wants me to be. My decisions have not always been for the best, but they’ve all lead to right here. Whatever comes next will come next. All that matters is that He’s got the wheel.

The Moral of the Story?

We’re on a journey. Wether you go to college, pick a career, and stay there or you take the crooked road (like me,) God’s hand is all over your life. There are lessons to be learned and truths to be embraced at every turn.

My prayer for you is that you would be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit and that you would let Him guide your decisions. Take every opportunity to learn from the events in your life. Whether you succeed or you fail, God is right there with you.

For more information on my story, check out my spiritual biography.

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  • http://www.michaelesparks.com Michael Sparks

    Great Job Kenny! It’s amazing the twists and turns that lead us down the path of life. Some of your writings remind me of myself. Keep on a Rockin as they say.

    • http://kennysilva.net Kenny Silva

      Thanks, Michael. I will!

  • http://www.robstill.com Rob Still

    Dude you’ve had a very interesting life! I really enjoyed your presentation at Podcamp. Love this post. Rock on.

    • http://kennysilva.net Kenny Silva

      Thank you for reading and stopping by my presentation, Rob!

  • cshell

    Great post, thanks! I am in this stage of life right now that found you between real estate agent ($$$) and just loving people.

    I’m not sure what God has for me, but i’m open and listening.

    • http://kennysilva.net Kenny Silva

      That’s a spot I understand all too well, Chuck. Let Him lead.

  • http://www.thedailywalk.net Adam

    Great post Kenny. Love to see and hear how God works in lives!

  • http://twitter.com/JamesonReynolds Jameson Reynolds

    very good stuff, thanks for sharing this with us!

  • http://TheInvisibleOffice.com Erica Cosminsky

    Holy Statistics! I just turned 25 and I’ve only had 4 jobs. I guess I’ve got a lot of catching up to do in the next 5 years.

    I love this post though. The lessons you take away from each stop along the way are the most valuable part of the job. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://hopefulleigh.blogspot.com/ HopefulLeigh

    So cool! Loved reading about the highs and lows of each job and what God taught you along the way. I’m glad you can say you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be now. This makes me consider the lessons I’ve learned from my past work- something I haven’t really sat down to do before.

  • http://goinswriter.com Jeff Goins

    Wow, dude.

  • http://lindseynobles.com Lindsey Nobles

    Good stuff Kenny…

  • http://twitter.com/BradBlackman Brad Blackman

    I’m 32 now and I’ve had 10 different jobs since I was 18, if you count the freelance work I’ve been doing all along. Only four types of jobs though. I suppose a fifth job title could be thrown in — artist — but I’ve called myself an artist since I was a wee child and have always considered it a part of who I was, not something I _did_.

    Out of curiosity, what prompted this post?

    • http://kennysilva.net Kenny Silva

      Thanks for sharing, Brad. I wrote this at the request of a friend/reader who was looking for a little more on this part of my story.

  • http://goinswriter.com Jeff Goins

    Straight up crazy, dude.

  • http://www.caitlinmuir.com Caitlin Muir

    At 25, I’ve had my own weird job path that has wandered through industries, coffee shops, and even Texas. The timing on your repost was great…I turned in my resignation letter at work yesterday. Here’s to another God led career choice!

  • Annette Jett

    I can so relate to number 6. I wasn’t a professional guitarist. But a caterer. That business lasted the full 9 years you were talking about, but the end result was the same. My natural competitive instincts and pride in what I was doing became my higher power. I walked away and am now on a path similar to yours, sharing God’s undeniable grace with others. I have faith that God was leading the way then and now, taking me back to a previously deserted spiritual path. Thanks for making it real Kenny.