“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.” – Proverbs 3:5-6
If you went back in time and asked a younger version of me what I wanted to be when I grew up I would have told you that I wanted to be a Veterinarian. Thats right a vet. I thought this was the coolest idea ever……then I realized that you had to actually cut open animals. So I opted out. Fast forward to middle school and I found my dream job. I wanted to be an Imagineer for the Disney Company. I wanted to create rides and experiences for guests to Disney Parks. I became fascinated with the Walt Disney Company and their Imagineers. But the main Imagineering office is in California and plus I had no idea how to become an Imagineer. Well that didn’t stop me, I developed a plan. I was going to go to Mississippi State, get an engineering degree, and then go to a seminary and get a degree in divinity. That way I could talk Jesus and work for Disney. This would combine two big passions of mine: Jesus and Disney. Well this was my goal for most of high school. My senior year drew close and I still hadn’t really started looking at colleges. It was an easy choice, go to MSU just like my parents. Well the year was moving forward and I was more and more apprehensive about leaving Clinton, my hometown. Instead of following where I might have felt the strongest pull to go, MSU, I chose to stay in Clinton and attend Mississippi College, a small Baptist college in my hometown. This would be a great decision, but I can’t say that I sought much guidance in the decision to end up at MC. On top of choosing MC, I did not major in Engineering. MC didn’t offer Engineering at the time, but I could still major in Christian Studies. Instead I chose Biology Pre-Med. And thus began my career as a college student.
What was I thinking? I mean honestly, I didn’t even like Biology. I chose that because of some outside forces in the form of peer influence told me I should. Man, what a mistake! I can’t tell you how much I hated my classes the first semester at MC. I was not where I should be. I was not in God’s will. The only classes I really enjoyed were Calculus 1 and Old Testament. Everything else was a wash. In fact my only A during my first semester was Calculus. I knew it was time to change. But to what? In the end I chose to major in Mathematics. I always loved math even though it wasn’t as you could say my passion. Well what do you do with a Math degree? Teach of course.
Teaching probably doesn’t seem like the go to option for most math majors, but for me it was different. I grew up at an inner city church about a mile from the center of downtown Jackson. In our church we started a non-profit ministry called His Heart. His Heart ministers to the students and families around the inner city of Jackson. I have volunteered or worked for His Heart since I was 12. So you can see why after years of working at His Heart I would be drawn to teaching. So teaching it was. By the end of my senior year at MC, I had approximately 9 job offers and I won the Mathematics Secondary Education Award. I had a lot of good offers for jobs and I chose one that I thought would cater to my experience in the inner city: Chastain Middle School. To be honest, I knew this was the job God had for me because during the interview the principal put my name on the school marque out front and he had a picture of his family at Disney World behind his desk. I knew this was right for me.
The very next week the principal that hired me was fired. This maybe was a warning, but I went for the job anyway and boy was it a trial by fire. My first year was in a word hell, but to be fair most teacher’s first years are that bad. I was tortured by the students, who came up with incredibly genius ways of agitating me. There were days where yes, I cried. I truly felt lost, but in the end I made it out alive. Also the next two years at Chastain were some of my favorite memories of teaching.
In the middle of my third year of teaching I came across some information that a math position was opening at my old high school, Clinton. I applied and almost immediately found myself back in the hallways that I walked as a student. There is something truly unique and fantastic about teaching at the school you went to. It was like paying homage to the great teachers I had there in the early 2000s. Fast forward to today and I am finishing up my 7th year as a teacher and my 4th at Clinton.
So why do I go through all this explanation? Well looking back at my life I have come to realize that I tend to travel the road of least resistance. Out of high school I chose the close to home school. In college I chose the major that matched my strengths during my first semester. After college I chose a school that catered to my experience as a non-profit worker. It has been a breeze really, making these decisions. This was all until last year after my bout with cancer.
I began to look at my life and realize that maybe it was a time for change. I have become grumpy, easily agitated, and dissatisfied. I know that it is movement inside of my soul. Last year I completed a Masters in Business and my wife this year completed her Masters degree to become a Physician Assistant. For the first time in our 3.5 years of marriage, both Carly and I have jobs. There is such a sense of security in that fact, that it is almost impossible to believe that I would want any change in that. But the unrest was too great for me to ignore. So a few weeks ago I notified my school that I would not be back next year. Next year I will not be Mr. Yelverton.
I won’t go into many specifics of how I chose to not teach next year. I will say that I was banking on one certain thing to happen and well that certain “thing” did not happen. So I was essentially stuck with a tough decision that I couldn’t just flip a coin for. You know that episode of the Big Bang Theory where Sheldon uses Dungeons and Dragons dice to make every decision in his life? If you don’t I think you get the picture. We can’t just base life decisions on the chance of heads or tails or snake eyes or double sixes. We have to actually put forward some work behind it and thats tough. I don’t know about you but it would be a lot easier to for me and my wife to pick a restaurant to eat at or movie to watch if we just flipped a coin.
So starting in August I will not be teaching, but instead learning. I will be joining forces with my father’s consulting company, Yelverton Consulting. I know what you are thinking? Is this your dream job? Well the answer is I have no idea, but I am so excited to find out. I can’t wait to see how I fit into this new role and if I will succeed or fall flat on my face. There is a big part of me that is scared of failure, but there is a bigger part that wants to please God. After many months of thinking, praying, seeking counsel, staying up until the wee hours, and endless adjustments to my resume (still a work in progress), I have decided to jump head first into this new life.
So will you join me on this journey? What advice would you give to someone like me that is jumping from one career to something completely different?
Thanks for reading. Journey Strong.