The Secret to Working Beyond Your Capabilities

My paternal grandfather, whom we called Opa, came to the United States from Germany as a young adult and initially worked with his brothers as a house painter.  One day he fell from a ladder and broke a bone in his hand, the metacarpal I.  Although it healed improperly, he could still use his thumb.  Since his hand never regained full strength, Opa decided to change professions.  He applied to dental school in Baltimore, and moved his wife and babies there.  When he attended the first day of class, the administrators said, “Why are you here?  We didn’t accept you.”  Opa said, “I’ve quit my job; I’ve moved my family here; you have to accept me.”  After some deliberation, the administrators decided to admit him on probation.  Through persistent prayer and strong, courageous effort, Opa found and fulfilled his calling.

Not through a flash of light, but through persistent prayer and strong, courageous effort, Opa found and fulfilled his calling.

By mixing dental care with conversation and good counsel, he built life-long relationships with his patients, their children and grandchildren.  Because many patients were initially afraid of dental visits, Opa bought a harmonica neck holder, so he could play soothing music while working on their teeth.  Opa flourished throughout his career, practicing dentistry into his eighties.

Long ago, when Joshua was thrust into leadership by the death of Moses, God repeatedly encouraged him to “be strong and courageous.”  Although initially fearful and prone to mistakes, Joshua grew into an inspirational and effective leader, who always gave credit to the God for his success.

Application:  Dear friend, are you in a season of fear or a season of flourishing?  I think the hardest part of seasons of fear, might be uncertainty about whether we should persist or explore other options.  I am in a season of uncertainty as I begin to devote significant time and energy to writing.  May God give us the wisdom we need to know the way that will lead toward flourishing.


What profession or role have you felt called to fulfill?  What challenges have you faced in living out that calling?  How have you overcome them?

Recommended Reading:

Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work by Timothy Keller

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