A Construction Worker Turned Counselor Shares Why He Made A Career Change

by Kelsey Madas

August 3, 2018

Jonathan Taylor (‘18) worked in construction and commercial painting for most of his life – twenty years, to be exact. But it wasn’t a career he loved. “After high school, I went to a community college, and after that, I joined the United States Marine Corps reserves,” he said. “I was active for a year and then went to reserve status. My plan was to go back to college after my year of active status.” But after a change of plans, he decided to wait.

When Taylor put a pause on earning his degree he dove into his fulltime job as a commercial painter for many years. But during that time, he still couldn’t let go of the idea of going back to school. Thanks to Lancaster Bible College’s degree completion program, he was able to do just that. He earned a bachelor’s degree in biblical studies in 2008 – all while keeping up with a 40 hour work week and taking night classes. For a few years, that was good enough. But he still felt like God was calling him to do more with his life – something entirely different than painting or construction. Not sure what it might be, Taylor continued working his day job, but his feelings of dissatisfaction only grew stronger.

In 2012, Taylor decided it was finally time for a change. “I made a personal life change and career change at the same time. God had been tapping me on my shoulder for several years asking me to reconnect with Him on a deeper level,” he explained. “I have always been a Christian but there was a time that I tried to do life my way – which ended up with me not being very happy.” It was during this time that a close friend and mentor called Taylor and urged him to dedicate his life more fully to Christ. He made some significant life changes, including walking away from old friends, serving his home church consistently and studying God’s word with renewed vigor. “For the first time in years, I was happy and it was because of my heart being transformed by God,” Taylor said excitedly. “It was at this same time that I realized that I had a passion for people. I loved listening to people and wanted to learn how I could help them by using God’s word knew that I did not want to paint or be in the construction field for the rest of my life.” He felt that he had something more to offer and finally landed on just what that was. “I realized I wanted to become a professional Christian counselor and help people by using God’s word, not the secular world’s way of thinking,” he said.

With a renewed sense of purpose, Taylor set out to select a college and settled on Lancaster Bible College | Capital Seminary & Graduate School. “I choose LBC | Capital because I wanted to learn biblical truths to help me answer questions about life, relationships and eternity,” explained Taylor. “I wanted to have my heart and mind transformed by God into the type of person I knew I could be. Most of all, I wanted to have a foundation to my answers that I knew came from a source that was perfect – Jesus Christ.”

Taylor dove into his master’s degree studies, and eventually decided on a concentration in school counseling. “I actually started in the marriage and family tract at LBC,” he said. “It just so happened that the Career & Counseling Center (counseling and career services for LBC students) was just getting started.” During this time, he worked as a graduate assistant for Dr. Thomas Starr, the director of LBC’s professional school counseling program. “This proved to be such a great experience for me and looking back at it, I just marvel on how God was moving the pieces in my life,” noted Taylor. “In my role, I was able to interact with LBC students through counseling sessions at the C3 office and get a feel for what it was really like to be a counselor.” This experience proved to be formative for Taylor and his new career.

Today, Taylor has his master’s degree in professional school counseling and just wrapped up a long-term substitute schooling counseling position at John Beck Elementary School in Lititz, Pennsylvania. How he got the job in the first place is a testament to God’s perfect timing. “I learned about an opportunity for an extended substitute position just as I was looking to complete my elementary internship hours,” he explained. His prayers were answered. The school offered him the position and even helped him to get his emergency certification. “After receiving the job, I essentially went from doing my internship to becoming a school counselor for a great elementary school. I took over for the school counselor who had been there 25 years. It was here that I jumped right into the thick of things and I loved every minute of it – I was able to develop my own niche and tried different counseling methods with the students.”

Taylor says he passionate about his field and believes it’s more important now than ever. “We’re seeing high levels of stress and anxiety in students from K-12 in part because of cyberbullying and technology,” he noted. “Whether students live with one parent or live with two working parents, we need school counselors to provide a safe zone for these students to come to. Unfortunately, some of our students are emotionally, mentally, and physically abused at home. It is my job – and the job of the school counselor – to advocate for these children and to show them kindness to let them know we care about them.” He adds that pain from his own past shapes how he interacts with these young students. “I went through the pain of my Dad leaving my family when I was four years old, and my mother had to raise the four of us by herself,” he said. “To this day, I remember the educators that showed me genuine care that allowed me to make it through the school day. I became a school counselor because those people matter to me.”

Overall, Taylor says he’s incredibly grateful for his time at LBC and the way it prepared him for his second career as a school counselor. “I want to thank President Dr. Peter Teague for his unwavering leadership and all the educators that have been used by God to influence my life,” he said. “LBC will always have a special place in my heart and I hope one day that I can contribute back to this awesome school.”

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