While studying at university, I found a good employer with a position in my field of study. After I graduated, my wife and I moved two times with the company, and I took a promotion each time. My career was going well. After almost five years in the last position, I began to wonder if it was time to seek a different employer. I felt stagnated, and I was worried that taking care of my spouse and two children’s financial needs would be beyond my abilities if I didn’t change course. After discussing my feelings with my wife and realizing that my desire for more education had always been there since President Gordon B. Hinckley had told the men of the Church to get as much education as they could,1 I decided to pursue an MBA while still working full time.
At the end of the MBA program, I began seeking a new job in earnest. My current company had several opportunities that I pursued, but they didn’t work out. After many job applications and a stressful interview process, I was rewarded with a job offer at another company. This company was growing and had lots of promise for future opportunities.
I wanted the job very badly. Even so, I struggled to feel a strong prompting either way. Both my wife and I felt a lot of worry about taking the new position. But change is often scary, and anxiety about change didn’t seem like the right reason to say no.
I began looking at all aspects of my current job. I would finish one really good day and come home thinking, “This job is great! I don’t need to change. I should wait a little while longer.” And then a few days later, something at work would irritate me. I would point to that experience and think, “This is the reason I need to leave. This is not the right place for me anymore.” I bounced several times between wanting and not wanting to take the job. After a week, my potential new employer really wanted an answer. Eventually I decided to make the move to the new company. But I didn’t feel a lot of peace about the decision, even though I was excited.
After some reflection, I realized that when I was trying to decide whether to take the new job or not, I hadn’t been seeking revelation—I had been seeking a sign. When I started looking for signs in daily events, I started seeing them. And this makes sense, since the Lord has taught us, “And he that seeketh signs shall see signs, but not unto salvation” (Doctrine and Covenants 63:7).
I was trying to make a decision based on random events during the day. By looking at things that went great (or not) during each day, I was trying to let go of my responsibility to decide for myself and for my family’s welfare. The Lord gave me a strong mind and helped me obtain education so that I could make smart decisions. During my reflection, the Lord taught me that one of the most dangerous aspects of my sign seeking had been when I tried to assign my moral agency to another person, thing, or process.
As it turned out, I didn’t like my new job. It was stressful and the commute was very taxing. After a year in the new position, I started praying to Heavenly Father, “I know it was my decision to take this position, but I don’t think I can do this much longer. Can you help me find a way out of this situation?” I uttered this prayer many times over almost an entire year. Eventually I received multiple messages from people I used to work with, telling me about an opening.
I wasn’t sure if this new opportunity was right for me, but I applied, interviewed, and was offered the position. After the interview process and some research, I knew from a logical standpoint that I wanted the job. After praying about that decision, I felt like it was the right decision to make, even though it wasn’t a career path I had ever envisioned for myself. This time I didn’t look for good or bad days or situations to show me the answer—I sought the answer from myself and my knowledge, and the Lord helped me feel peace about my decision.
I learned that even though I had a testimony of the Savior and the restored gospel, I could still fall into the trap of seeking a sign because I was scared of being responsible for my actions. Sign seeking is a trap we can fall into while seeking an initial testimony, but it can also reduce our ability to hear the Lord at any time on our covenant journey back home. I am grateful for answered prayers and the ability to hear Him through peaceful feelings in my heart.
1. See Gordon B. Hinckley, “Living Worthy of the Girl You Will Someday Marry” (general conference, Apr. 1998).