My Greatest Fear
On January 6, 2012 one of my greatest fears came true. For the first time in my 30 year career in software development, I was laid off. Even though I was feeling the call to work for the Lord (although I didn’t know exactly how), the layoff hit me like a ton of bricks. We had just started homeschooling a few months before and I was the sole provider for my family. Looking back now, however, what seemed like the “end of the world” turned out to be one of my greatest blessings.
While I had a desire to do the Lord’s work, I expected to be working for a church, a diocese or an organization and wanted to do it on my terms. I was very comfortable receiving a bi-weekly paycheck and I didn’t want that to change. Apparently, God had other plans. After receiving encouragement from my amazing wife (Eileen), we decided to “go for it”. I would try to earn a living as a full time Catholic evangelist with no guarantee of any salary.
Although I was blessed to be able to appear on several Catholic radio shows and do some blogging prior to my layoff, I never earned one penny for my work. Now, I would need to find a way to bring in money in a hurry! My first book (A Worrier’s Guide To The Bible) was scheduled to be released in October of 2012 and I started accepting speaking engagements, but the first year was incredibly difficult. Things gradually got better over the course of the second, third and fourth years, but it was still very challenging.
My Greatest Blessing
Today, I celebrate my fourth year in full time ministry. And, while my family and I still live month to month, I have seen God do amazing things in my life. Over the past four years, I have proclaimed the “Good News” throughout the United States and Canada. I am currently finishing the manuscript for my 6th book. I am a regular guest on EWTN TV and Radio, host two radio programs and appear frequently on local Catholic radio stations around the country. Incredibly, I have also become the leading Catholic speaker on overcoming anxiety.
How is it possible for a former lukewarm Catholic and lifelong worrier to be sharing the gospel on a full time basis for the past four years? How could someone who worked in the corporate world for 30 years now be spreading the “Good News” for a living? The answer is simple. I owe everything to the Lord. A little over ten years ago, I encountered Jesus in a big way. I felt like St. Paul on the road to Damascus. That meeting changed my life. Little by little, He has lead me down this path. I have experienced successes and I have experienced failures, but He has opened many doors for me. God has done “the impossible” in my life over and over.
What Keeps Me Going
I’ve been asked what keeps me going when it’s so difficult to survive in full time Catholic ministry. For one thing, I am always looking for signs that God is blessing my work (new book contracts, speaking engagements, positive feedback). This is a critical step in discerning the Lord’s will. As a husband and father, I must provide for the needs of my family. If the day comes when I can no longer do that through my full time ministry, I know that God is telling me to move on.
What else keeps me going and helps me to deal with the uncertainty that I face each day? There are two Bible passages that echo in my mind constantly:
The first one is the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30). We have all been given talents and are expected to use them to advance God’s kingdom on earth. On the day of our judgment, we will have to answer for how we used the skills God gave us. What is so striking about this parable is that the wicked servant wasn’t punished for what he did, but for what he didn’t do. Because he was afraid, he buried his talent in the ground instead of investing it. This message really gets my attention.
The second passage comes from Psalm 95, which I pray every morning as part of the Liturgy of the Hours:
O that today you would listen to his voice! Harden not your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day of Massah in the wilderness, when your fathers tested me, and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work. (Psalm 95:7-9)
Over the past four years, I have seen the Lord work numerous miracles in my life. I know what He can do. He has always been there for me in the past. How could I not trust Him with my future?
What I Have Learned
I firmly believe that if God asks us to do something, He will give us what we need to get the job done. I also believe that He can do all things, including taking a shy, apathetic, software developer and using him to spread the gospel message in a very public way. If He can use me, He can use you too. Don’t ever dismiss the thought that you might be called to work for Him in some way. Take time to carefully discern what you feel you’re being called to do. Watch for doors to open and learn to be patient. You never know what He might have planned for you!
Gary Zimak is the author of “A Worrier’s Guide To The Bible”, “Listen To Your Blessed Mother”, “From Fear To Faith” and “Faith, Hope and Clarity”. He is a frequent speaker at parishes and conferences across the United States and Canada and is recognized as the leading Catholic speaker on overcoming anxiety. In addition to hosting his own daily radio show on BlogTalkRadio, Gary is a regular guest on EWTN television and radio.