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How ‘Just a Job’ Turned into a Career and a Relationship with God

With a life in shambles, one mysterious moment changes everything.

Edward Grinnan on finding a career
Credit: Katye Martens Brier

Are you as excited about the newly reimagined Guideposts magazine as we are? Lately I’ve been talking to a few interested media outlets about our recommitment to the readers of our 76-year-old flagship publication. At a time when so many publishers are pulling back from print, our relaunch is newsworthy. Invariably I am asked how I came to Guideposts. It’s a story I love to tell.

At the time, my life was a shambles. I was desperately trying to stay sober after years of alcohol abuse. My sponsors in the 12-step program I attended informed me that I needed to do two things: Find God in my life and find a job. Both prospects were daunting. I had long since drifted from faith and my hands shook so bad, I could barely fill out a job application. But the latter suggestion seemed the most practical, especially since we weren’t talking about a career—just a job I could hang onto for a year while I tried to get my life in order. Any job. 

One day I was half-heartedly scanning the want ads and half-heartedly praying for guidance when the phone rang. I wasn’t in the habit of answering the phone, on the assumption that it was usually bad news. Don’t ask me why but for some reason I picked up. On the other end was a woman from a job placement agency who was looking over my résumé and thought there might be an opening for me at a publishing company. Would I be interested in interviewing for an assistant editor position? 

All I could think of was, how did she get my name and number? I’d never heard of this agency and was certain I’d never sent them my résumé. I wondered if it was a scam. She read off my address and said, “The offices are just across town from you. I’d be happy to set up an appointment.” 

I’d also never heard of the company, Guideposts. What was that, some kind of travel magazine? The prospect of having a job that included travel was appealing and before I knew it, I had a job interview scheduled for the next day. I was only half-convinced I’d show up for it. 

The rest you can probably guess. I met with then editor-in-chief Van Varner, who explained that Guideposts was not a travel publication but the country’s leading inspirational magazine featuring true personal stories of hope and inspiration, founded by Norman Vincent Peale. Not exactly my beat. Despair and isolation would be more like it. He handed me a few recent issues, suggested I go home and read them and if I were interested call him back, and we could have lunch. The prospect of a free lunch was a motivator. 

I took the job, still thinking that it would only be for a year. That was in 1986, and I’m still here. I discovered a career after all and along the way, with the help of your stories, I found a relationship with God I longed for more than I knew. But I never did find out how that recruiter got a hold of my résumé.

Retelling this story, it got me thinking. How many of you have had that one mysterious moment that changed the course of your life? A second chance, perhaps, or a chance encounter. Maybe you’ll tell me about it here.

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