“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
An artist. A pet store owner. A guitarist in a band. A tattoo artist. That is how I would have answered that question at different times throughout my childhood. I love hearing how my daughters answer it now: Phoebe told me yesterday that she wants to be an artist, so she’s going to paint everyday when she’s a kid and also when she’s a grownup and I said, yes, nice follow-through. You should totally do that.
But sometimes grownups mean one thing when we ask, and kids mean something else when they answer. They tell us what they want to do—they want to paint every day and watch other people smile at their paintings the way we smile at them. They want to have lots of art supplies, the really nice kind, and to play with them every day. But we wanted to know what they plan to get paid for. We try to condense a vocation into a career.
What I love about Melissa Kruger’s book is that it plays with all the fun of “What do you to be when you grow up?” while getting at the heart of the bigger issue. She imagines, in a Dr. Suessian cadence, what kids might become as they grown up: Singers? Chefs? Athletes? Who knows! It’s so exciting to think about, isn’t it?
But then her parental narrator shifts: Okay, the parent says. I love talking about all that. I love thinking about who you might become and where you might go and what our relationship might be like when you’re grown. But here’s the one thing I really want you to know: whatever else you end up doing, I hope you love Jesus.
That puts a completely different focus on the conversation. Where I often felt I gave the wrong answers as a kid (because I always chose things notorious for bringing in very little income), Wherever You Go, I Want You to Know reminds readers that what matters more than a career or even a calling is the one we serve with our work.
Because the truth is, many of us don’t get paid for what we really do. Those grownups who told me I’d probably need to work a day job weren’t wrong: my decision to pursue a creative writing degree wasn’t, in hindsight, a lucrative one. We do often need to take jobs that we would never have considered as kids. But an artist brings her artistic outlook to her work as a nurse’s aid, even in the seasons when she doesn’t have the stamina to paint every day after her shift.
What matters in the end isn’t what we do, but who we do it for. If we work for ourselves, we’ll always look for the next thing, for the next promotion, for the most fulfilling way to live our lives. But if we work for Jesus, if we love him with our whole hearts and trust his plan, we’ll work contentedly wherever he places us—even when we set aside our vocation for a time to work at something else.
To love him wholeheartedly, to trust in him alone—that is what I hope for my daughters. That is, as Melissa Kruger says, the best place to start.
Wherever You Go, I Want You to Know
Melissa Kruger; Isobel Lundie (2020)
Disclosure: I did receive a copy of this book for review, but I was not obligated to review this book or compensated for my review in any way. I share this book with you because I love it, not because I was paid to do so.