What's Next: Your Dream Job, God's Call, and a Life That Sets You Free

What's Next: Your Dream Job, God's Call, and a Life That Sets You Free

by Daniel Ryan Day


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 As a believer, you want to find God’s will for your education, career, and ministry, right? But in the process of waiting on clear-cut advice from the Almighty, you may have missed what He’s already directed you to do. Speaking from his own experiences, Daniel Ryan Day reminds you about Scripture’s clear teachings regarding God’s will. When you understand what God asks of us, you’ll gain confidence to take the next step and find fulfillment and freedom, wherever you work and whatever you do.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781627079433
Publisher: Our Daily Bread Publishing
Publication date: 04/03/2019
Pages: 176
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range: 3 Months to 18 Years

About the Author

Daniel Ryan Day is cohost of the nationally syndicated radio program Discover the Word, the author of Ten Days Without, and a speaker. He holds a master's degree in theology from Fuller Theological Seminary, and is married to his high school sweetheart, Rebecca. Their family of five lives in North Carolina where Daniel works as a businessman.

Read an Excerpt



I never imagined I would be thirty years old and still trying to figure out who I wanted to be when I grew up.

As a boy, I thought for sure I would fly F-16s. It's all I wanted to do with my life. I was so serious about it that I built control panels out of Legos, commandeered the joystick from my parents' computer, and set up my bed as a cockpit. I flew thousands of missions all over the world. I don't mean to brag, but I was the best fighter pilot ever to maneuver a four-poster bed.

As I got older, my desire to fly airplanes only grew stronger. When I turned seventeen, I contacted my congressman, and he agreed to write a recommendation letter for my acceptance into the United States Air Force Academy. Unless you're a really bad student with a criminal record, a letter from a congressman almost always guarantees acceptance into the Academy. So I was set.

Before I sent in my application, however, I met a cute little Cuban girl and fell in love. Suddenly, the thought of moving out of state to attend the Air Force Academy sounded terrible, so I never sent in the application. Instead, I went to a local university, and Rebecca and I were married a few years later.

My desire to fly hadn't gone away though. In fact, a few months before our wedding, I met with an Air Force recruiter to check out the process of becoming a pilot without going through the Academy. Providentially, he was a terrible recruiter, and I left the meeting without any peace about the possibility of becoming an Air Force pilot. Rebecca wisely reminded me that God is a God of peace, and she encouraged me to pay attention when my heart is in turmoil.

I tried a different route. I contacted my uncle, who had flown missionary planes for the Jungle Aviation and Radio Service for fifty years. He advised me about what it would take to become a missionary pilot, and soon I was accepted by a university that specialized in the type of training I would need. But again, I didn't feel peace. Instead of changing colleges, I finished my business degree at the local university.

And then I entered the workforce. Over the next few years, however, whenever my job became difficult or stressful, I felt a burning in my chest to abandon everything and jump into a cockpit. I got to the point where I felt that if I didn't become a pilot, I could never be content in any other job.

What is it that fuels that discontent?


I'm now 100 percent certain that I'm not supposed to become a professional pilot, and I've lost all desire to go into the Air Force, but contentment was still elusive for a long time. The idea of watching the sun rise and set from high above the earth sounded so beautiful and adventurous. It sounded like the perfect dream job. What else could I do that would be as great as flying a fighter jet?

"What's next?" was constantly on my mind. And I've since discovered that it's on lots of people's minds.

Right now, I manage a restaurant and family entertainment center — the kind with go-carts, laser tag, mini golf, and an arcade. Our family-owned business employs about sixty people, and I would say the majority of our staff are "in transition." They are like you: some know exactly what their dream job is, some have no idea, and some are simply searching for the next step in their education or career. Some are students and young adults, and some are men and women in their thirties, forties, and older who are searching for something better. These folks are looking for what's next, but they may not know what that looks like.

If the people who work with me were divided into "teams" based on where they're at in life, we'd see their diversity. Maybe you can relate to one of them ...

The first team is Team Senior, and no, I'm not talking about those ages sixty-five and up who get free coffee at restaurants. These are young adults who are trying to figure out what's next after high school. If you're in this group, you may have applied to a few colleges or universities and are anxiously awaiting answers. Or you may have already decided on a college but still have no idea what your major will be. You could also be in this group if you've decided to take a break from school until you know for sure what you want to do with your life. Either way, you are asking — or at least thinking about — "what's next" and would really like to know the answer. It's also possible someone who really cares may have purchased this book for you because they want you to begin thinking and dreaming about your future. That's great because you'll get a head start on one of the biggest questions people face in their lives and, if you take this search seriously, you can avoid a lot of the trouble the rest of us have experienced.

Team College is next, and it's diverse. There are those who, like I did, are bouncing — with much stress (and possibly whiplash) — from major to major. If that's you, you probably expected to have your goals figured out by now, and are frustrated that your "what's next" is still "What major should I choose?" You could also be on Team College if you're approaching the end of your studies, and the guaranteed job you thought you'd have is not as guaranteed as you thought. The timeline in your head included a job offer before graduation. Now graduation is closing in — or has already passed — and you don't have any promising prospects. You're still working at a burger joint, and the question "what's next" means "When and where is my career going to start?" This is such a difficult place to be.

I've had many friends on Team Rut because they feel like they're, well, in a rut. If that's you, maybe you took a break between high school and college to figure out what career field to pursue, but now years have passed and you're still cleaning public bathrooms or running a cash register. Or you may have what many people consider a good job — steady work, regular raises, vacation — but you're bored; it feels like a dead end. Either way, you may still ask "what's next" every once in a while, but you may have given up hope on ever finding the answer.

Team Bills is a really large group! They understand the need for an income and are humble enough to take whatever job they can get to pay their bills. I've had some incredibly overqualified people work for us who took the job to make ends meet while getting back on their feet. If that's you, you are probably happy to have a job, but are still eager to find "what's next" — especially because you know that you have so much more to offer.

Team Deck-of-Cards includes people who have been dealt a rough hand through their own decisions, the decisions of others, or circumstances outside of their control. Maybe you had a dream career that you were pursuing, but a sudden death, divorce, job loss, or illness ravaged your plans, your emotions, and your life. Now you're floundering and questioning God. Maybe you're working for an hourly wage at the only job you could find while you try to put the pieces back together. I can only imagine how personal the question "what's next" is for you.

Finally, there's Team Hero — the few people I know who have purposefully given up on a dream to become an unsung hero for someone they care about. Maybe the situation caused you to take on responsibility before you were ready for it, to care for others physically or financially and put their needs before your own. You are a hero for boxing up your dreams and putting them in the attic for a little while, but I know the question of "what's next" is still important to you.

Regardless of where you are, I don't think it's too much of a stretch to assume that if you're reading this book, you're probably having a hard time finding an answer to the question "What's next?" And if that's the case, you just read a whole bunch of examples that illustrate a comforting fact: you're not alone. But the comfort of not being alone isn't good enough, is it? You're not heartless, but really, who cares if other people are having a hard time discovering what's next for them? How does that help you? You want to know what you're supposed to do. Well, here's the good news: The rest of this book is designed to help you figure that out. And the first step is to consider what you are really looking for.


After working and talking with so many people in transition (and being there myself) — after hearing their stories, their dreams, and their problems — I've gradually come to the conclusion that we all have something in common. Although our reasons for asking "what's next" may differ, all of us want to find purpose and fulfillment in what we do, including our jobs. See if you agree with me ...

First, we want to feel a sense of purpose — to have a reason for doing whatever it is we are doing. We want a good answer to the question "Why am I doing this?" Very simply, we want to know that we are doing something meaningful. Whether we're in a high-power job that makes us rich or doing repetitive tasks that bore us, we want to know that our contribution matters to the big picture. All of us long to know that there's a reason behind our existence — that our lives are in some way important.

Is this true for you? Do you want your life to mean something? On a scale from 1 to 10, from pointless to meaningful, how do you rate the sense of purpose you have in your current or most recent job? What would you like that number to be?

I have a theory about why a sense of purpose is so important to us: This world is a big place, and we share it with a lot of people. When I fly over a city at night — in the cabin, not the cockpit — I like to look down and think about how each glittering streetlight or house light or car light represents someone's existence. I imagine their stories. In just a few moments, the lives of thousands of people flash by — all those lives, a lot like mine, yet completely different. I'm amazed at the size of the world in which we live. This is a big place! And the more technologically advanced we become, the more of the world we get to observe. I think this may have led us to struggle more intensely with our desire to matter. In relation to the whole world, we feel like a tiny speck. We want to know that our lives mean something, that our existence in the world is part of a bigger plan and that we are accomplishing something great. We want to know we are special and important to our families and friends. We want to know that in our jobs — jobs that take up a large portion of our waking hours — we are not just pawns in the grand scheme of a massive world economy. We want to believe that the tasks to which we dedicate our lives make a difference in the world, or at least in the life of someone we know and care about.

We long to matter and to make a difference, and these desires shape the search for what's next. Although we may not go so far as to say we don't care about how much money we make, we want a sense of confidence that our everyday tasks affect the world in a positive way.

Second, we want some level of fulfillment — the sense of satisfaction we have when we've done a job well. We feel fulfilled when we enjoy what we do, do it successfully, and are appreciated for doing it. I don't think I've ever talked to anyone who doesn't want to enjoy his or her work and achieve some level of accomplishment.

As I've talked with members of my staff, I've heard many different definitions of what it means to enjoy work. Some want to experience adventure and travel the world, while others want to care for children, create or capture beauty, or compete at the highest levels of a sport.

What would enjoying a job look like for you? What would give you a sense of satisfaction or accomplishment?

Accomplishment, like enjoyment, looks different for different people. Some people are all about the cash and want to reach a high level of wealth. Others couldn't care less about money and would find fulfillment in knowing they are helping people.

This isn't about how important the job seems to be. I immediately think of the team of people working in the restaurant I manage. A few of these individuals take a lot of pride in their jobs. A salad is not a salad unless the customer they hand it to smiles at how beautiful it looks and how good it tastes. A milkshake is not a milkshake unless a child giggles at the whipped topping with gummy worms sticking out of it. These individuals may still be asking what's next, but in the meantime, they've found a way to find purpose and fulfillment in their current jobs.

What about you? Do you want to find purpose and fulfillment in your work and in your life? Do you want to enjoy going to work while also knowing that you are accomplishing something great? I think for most of us, the answer to those questions is obviously yes! Throughout the rest of this book I will present some ideas for how you might discover purpose and fulfillment while also discovering an answer to the question "What's next?" My prayer is that you will ultimately discover hope and freedom. Hope that answers are coming, and freedom from having to figure it out all on your own.


1. Which "team" are you on? If you didn't identify with one of the teams described above, write a paragraph describing your "team." Specifically, what has brought you to this point of asking "What's next?"

2. What does a job have to provide in order for you to feel a sense of purpose and fulfillment?



Let's face it: we know lots of people who have gone their whole lives without ever finding a dream job that brings them happiness or fulfillment. Some of them knew specifically what they wanted to do but never found the means to accomplish it. Others were dissatisfied but could never figure out what they'd rather do. They just grudgingly bore the work with an eye to retirement, or they hopped from job to job always hoping the next thing would be "it."

When my dream of becoming a pilot didn't work out, I started looking for another adventurous occupation. At one point, I considered following in my uncle's footsteps and becoming an FBI agent. At the time, all I could think about was how cool it would be to get in gunfights and catch bad guys.

One day, my uncle took me to his office so I could see what it was like to save the world as a crime-fighter. He is understandably proud of his job with the FBI, and it excited him that someone else in the family showed interest. I was excited too! I couldn't wait to wear a bulletproof vest while interviewing incarcerated informants. As I rode in the passenger seat of my uncle's black sedan, I wondered who we might interrogate first. Cue dream sequence. I began to think of what questions my uncle may need me to ask. Maybe I would be the good cop, and he would be the bad cop — sorry, agent. Or maybe the roles would be reversed. I began to imagine how epic it would feel to slam a bad guy's forehead into the desk to get him to talk. I hoped I was strong enough to knock the truth out of him.

When we drove up to my uncle's office — end dream sequence — I was surprised to find that it looked like ... well, like an office. At the front door, my uncle didn't push secret numbers into a keypad releasing a hand scanner or voice-recognition microphone. He just used a normal key. It got worse. We walked inside, and he had an oak desk, a blocky white computer, white paper, and black pens. No interrogation rooms with one-way-mirrors, gray lamps, and metal tables. Instead, there was a conference room with a wooden table, executive chairs, and the spaceship-looking thingy that helped with conference calls. I was even more surprised to discover that my uncle did a lot of his investigations from his desk with just his phone and his computer. What? No red phone to call the Oval Office? No secret lever on the bookshelf to open up a wall revealing a hidden gunroom filled with exotic weapons?

I lost interest in the FBI that day. I didn't want to do office work; I wanted to live on the edge.

Was my dream wrong? Did I need to compromise? What could provide what I was looking for?


When we're asking what's next, it can be hard to find answers. As a result, many of us are frustrated. But I think our frustration goes deeper than simply not knowing what's next. Many of us are frustrated because we can't land the dream job our culture tells us we should pursue.

If you Google "dream job" you'll get nearly one billion results. Everyone offers 10 tips or 4 steps or promises results in 30 days or by the end of the year — even if you're unqualified — and, oh, good news, if you don't know what your dream job is yet, there are over a million quizzes to help you figure it out. The message is that you should find excitement in your career. You should love your job so much that it doesn't even feel like a job. And the promise is that if you just try hard enough you can accomplish anything!


Excerpted from "What's Next"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Daniel Ryan Day.
Excerpted by permission of Discovery House.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction 9

1 What's Next? 11

2 The Elusive Dream Job 21

3 The Call of God 29

4 A Guy Named Moses 37

5 A Guy Named Jonah 45

6 A Look at Father God 53

7 A Surprising Verse About God's Will 65

8 Common Callings 71

9 Digging Deeper 79

10 A Life That Matters 89

11 Discovering Purpose and Fulfillment 97

12 Called to Freedom 109

13 Unexpected Ingredients to Success 121

14 Fight, Fight, Fight! 131

15 God's Specific Callings 141

16 Nothing Wasted 153

A Final Word: Redefining Success 163

Acknowledgments 167

Notes 169

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