Sometimes I glance at the two diplomas on my office wall and think back to the sacrifice my parents made so I could get a college education. They wanted to be sure I had the chance to go “further” in life, since they only had the opportunity to complete 7th and 9th grades.
I worked hard to get those degrees. I can still hear my college advisors and professors telling me what an outstanding student I was, even naming me “Senior of the Year” in the College of Forestry.
It’s clear many people thought I had a lot of “potential.”
But here I am, over thirty years later, serving in an administrative support role.
Many of my high school and college classmates have achieved lucrative careers and lofty titles. In comparison, it would be tempting to feel as if I have failed to live up to my capacity or wasted my education.I never dreamed of pursuing a career as an administrative professional. My formal “office training” consisted of one typing class in eighth grade (back in the days when we actually used typewriters). Perhaps I should have picked up that I had a special aptitude for office work when my teacher filmed me to showcase my typing technique!
It would be many years later before I served in my first administrative support role. It didn’t happen until I had six years of college under my belt and had worked in jobs relating to my degrees in resource recreation management and education. None of these positions had felt right or brought me fulfillment. In my mid-twenties, I found myself frustrated and confused about what I was supposed to “do” with my life.
The only thing I knew for sure was that I could trust God to lead me.
I had already resigned from a full-time teaching job, and my summer assignment as a youth camp director was soon to end. I earnestly prayed for God to show me what to do next.
That’s when I felt an internal nudge to see if the camp had any full-time positions available in the fall. They did—but it was a receptionist job! I gratefully accepted the role, but viewed it as a temporary career stop. During my first few months in the office, I couldn’t wait to move on to something else.
But then something unexpected happened. During my tenure as receptionist, I explored the possibility of going into overseas ministry, even attending a national missions’ convention. Yet afterwards, I felt God saying to me, “you can make a difference right where you are.” When summer came and I directed the children’s camps for a third time, I surprisingly found myself missing the office!
This time when the youth programs ended, I was excited to return to my seat at the camp’s switchboard. Thirteen wonderful years in administrative positions at the camp followed, the final seven as Executive Assistant to the Executive Director.
While I had found fulfilment in these support roles, I still felt the societal pressure to “climb the career ladder.” I wondered if I was meant for what the world considered “greater” things.
When my parents’ health began to fail, I saw my relocation to their state as my opportunity to change career directions. Eventually I took a job in a municipal Human Resources department as a technician. It wasn’t long before I found myself in an Interim Director role. For four months, I reported directly to the City Council and handled employment and risk management matters for 250 staff. It was a good taste of the expectations and pressures that come with a leadership role.
About two years later, I found myself in the Interim Director role again, this time for eleven months. The City Superintendent urged me multiple times to apply for the full-time Director position, but I declined.
It wasn’t that I couldn’t do the job. I realized I didn’t want it.
When the “Assistant to the President” job at the local community college was announced about a year later, my heart leapt and I immediately applied. God flung open the door for me to return to a role that fits me like a glove. I will celebrate my eight-year anniversary at the college in June.
Many years ago, I was talking to someone about wanting to get out of an administrative assistant role. She looked at me and exclaimed, “Why? You’re so good at it!” At the time I didn’t appreciate her response, but now I realize she was right. My primary career calling is to serve in support roles, particularly alongside executives.
While society may not always give administrative staff the honor we are due, I’ve come to understand how critical our work is in helping businesses, organizations, and leaders succeed. Even when a position doesn’t include a high level of “official” authority or power, it can be a role of tremendous influence.
I have been privileged to work closely with several exceptional leaders in organizations whose missions make a positive difference in people’s lives. My current boss recently referred to me as his “right-hand pro.”
Were my college years useless? No—they provided me with experiences and knowledge that I still draw upon today.
Am I living up to my potential?
As long as I continue to wholeheartedly follow God’s leading in my life, I can say a resounding, “yes.”
As author Lysa Terkheurst states, “I don’t need a better position to get where I should go. I don’t have to figure out my path and strive to get ahead . . . As I follow Him and honor Him step-by-step, I can be assured that I’m right where He wants me to be, doing what He wants me to do.” 
There’s no greater career contentment than that.
This post was written in honor of the USA “Administrative Professionals Day,” April 25, 2018
 From Lysaterkeurst.com, “When Impressing Others Depresses Us”
Bible Verses on God’s Guidance:
(New International Version)
Psalm 25:4-5: “Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”
Psalm 31:3: “Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me.”
Psalm 143:8: “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.”
Psalm 32:8-9: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”
Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”