I have been posed the same question quite a bit lately, and it has always surprised me at why this question would be people's answer. In multiple conversations I have spoken with people who work within the church, and they have asked me about my job at Panera. I explain to them what I do, the people I spend time with, and how I believe God is leading me in my time there. After walking through just a few of the many stories that God has written in my time at Panera, I get asked why I would be looking to leave a job that obviously is producing great relationships, and some wonderful God moments. This causes me to smile and ask the questioner if they pray for God to move no matter where they are and no matter what they are doing? If I was at Target and share an amazing connection with someone and it has God written all over it, do I conclude that I should get a job at Target? Disregard gifts and passions, because God has moved at Target, so just sit there. Seems silly to me, does it to you? It would be sad if I allowed my time at Panera to be an isolated job that is disconnected from my relationship with God, and it wouldn't say much for being the church and living out my faith. I would hope that no matter where you are and what you are doing, God is moving in and through you.
Yesterday I worked along side a girl for several hours, and we talked about everything under the sun, while we were doing all the prep work for Panera. She shared what she dreamed for her life and her future career in zoology, and I shared some of my past story as well as where I dream of heading in the future. This didn't take place because we are passionate about making bread forever, but because we were just being ourselves where we were. Part of what I have learned in my time at Panera, is that I have no desire to bury myself in "church world" because I work with a church. I want to continue to grow the relationships I have started at Panera, as well as develop new ones with people that share a seat with me at the local barista. I pray that I will continue to share life with all I interact with, but I would also hope I would do that in a place where I am working out of the gifts and passions God has given me.
I chuckle at why people would think because I have made good friendships with people at Panera, that I should just stay there. I have no intentions of leaving the REASON why the relationships have taken place, but I do hope to see the relationships grow with me in a different occupation. In fact, as the friendships have grown, they hope to see me move towards living out my dreams, gifts, and passions. I believe that's what friends do. I pray this for their lives as well. God is not at Panera Bread, but He is in some people who make it a front porch in their life.
Love the bread of life, but ready to be done making the bread of Panera