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Following Christ or a Successful Career?

Published Date: September 20, 2013

by Bill Wrobleski (2009, MATS)

“Dad, aren’t you coming to church with us?”

For years, this was the Sunday morning refrain as my wife and my two young children loaded up the car and headed out to church as I sat reading the paper on the couch.  It was a weekly ritual that played out in my home, as well as in many other homes across America.

At the time, I was a young professional pursuing a career in higher education. I was trying to find a balance between work and my family, but one thing was for sure, religion didn’t factor into my plans at all. In fact, neither my wife nor I had ever attended church before we were married. Faith, religion and spiritual matters were not on our radars.

That all changed after our second child was born.  Surprisingly, my wife found herself not only interested in church, but she found comfort and satisfaction in it.  It became an increasingly important part of her life.  For me though, nothing really changed. I remained uninterested in church. She was welcome to do whatever made her happy, but that didn’t mean I had to join her.

Ultimately it was a series of several factors that conspired to change my mind.

It started with my wife. Whether consciously or unconsciously, she recognized that the best way to change my mind was to give me time. She didn’t force things.  She didn’t demand things.  We were just two people peacefully disagreeing on priorities. While the chasm in our opinions seemed large, her approach made it easy for us to find compromise. We agreed that I would attend church once a month with the family, and the rest of the weeks I would stay home. This small compromise started the ball rolling.

Our church also played an important role in my transformation.  It was small and it met each week at a local school.  Meeting in such humble surroundings struck me as genuine.  This church wasn’t a building.  This church was a group of people.  Most importantly though, the church provided an atmosphere where I felt reasonably comfortable.  My monthly visit wasn’t unpleasant or uncomfortable, in fact quite the opposite.  The music was well done, the messages were interesting, and the people were welcoming. Attending once a month wasn’t a burden.

My church, also, offered me something else I didn’t expect.  It brought me into contact with a group of young professionals like myself.  For the first time, I began to get to know bankers, engineers, accountants and consultants who were both successful in their careers and passionate about Christ. I got to see following Christ and pursuing a successful career were not mutually exclusive.

Eventually, without really thinking about it, and with no further prodding from my wife, I started to attend church more regularly.  After a while, I was there pretty much every week. I guess it just became easier to attend than to stay home.

Yet, through all of this, I still wasn’t a believer.  Going to church was fine, but changing my belief system was a different story.

But of course, through this period, without me even recognizing it, Christ was at work in me.  Slowly but surely He was working on me. Slowly changing my thinking. Slowly changing my attitude.  Slowly bringing me closer to Him.

And “slowly” was the key word.  I attended church for four or five years without ever becoming a believer.  I sang the songs and listened to the messages, but my heart and my mind never really changed.

This went on for years. At some point, I’m not sure exactly when, I realized something had begun to change in me.  It wasn’t a single “road to Damascus” moment; rather, it was a journey marked by few steps forward and few backward.  But eventually, without really trying, I realized I had become a Jesus follower.

My story could have ended there.  An uninterested skeptic becomes a follower of Jesus.  But, God had more planned for me than I could have imagined.  Soon, I found myself leading small groups and even teaching on Sunday morning. With the encouragement of my pastors and my family, I attended Asbury and graduated with an M.A. in Theological Studies in 2009.  Now, I occasionally fill in for my pastor on Sunday mornings as well as for pastors at other churches.  I’m a living example of how God’s grace can change even the most resistant and stubborn of us.

I’ve also found my commitment to Christ has influenced every part of my life, including my career.  I’ve seen my priorities and approach to work change in recognition of the fact that I am a representative of Christ in the work place.  Recently, I served as a mentor in a formal mentoring program established by my organization.  One of my mentees said to me “I asked for you as my mentor because of the way you have demonstrated your faith here at work.”  It was a confirmation that God is using me in work (and beyond) as I continue my journey.

My story isn’t amazing, but it’s a good reminder that God works in many different ways to bring each of us closer to him.  It’s easy for us to grow discouraged as we watch a family member drift away or resist Jesus’ calling, but there is hope.  There is hope the lost coin will be found. That the prodigal son will return.

I laugh now, because I didn’t even know I was lost, but He still managed to find me.

 “Dad, aren’t you coming to church with us?”

“One second, just grabbing my coat.”


Bill Wrobleski is a 2009 graduate of ATS and a member of the ATS Alumni Council.  He is an IT Director at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He is married to Shirley and those two kids who asked him to go to church with them many years ago are now in college. For more information on Bill, check out his ministry web site: or email him at

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