Our journey to FamilyLife began in 2008 around a rectangular IKEA table in the corner of our Madrid, Spain apartment. We were serving as foreign missionaries and this particular day was a somber one. If you’ve ever had a “family summit” with your spouse where hard things needed to be put on the table, this was it.

“I need you to lead our family,” Dawn said with tears flowing down her cheeks. “I want our family to be a launching pad for discipleship.”

She ended with this mic drop moment. “Healthy ministry comes from a healthy family, and Paul, ours is not.” A year after that infamous summit, we were off the mission field and back home in Texas—tails between our legs.

An unexpected journey

Fast forward 12 short years and Dawn and I are still marveling at God’s providence and sense of humor. Who but God could take a spectacular failure in work-life balance and (a lack of) family discipleship, use it to change the heart of a stubborn husband, and lead this family to a ministry focused on bringing godly principles and hope to families around the world.

As I write this in our house in Orlando, I’m reflecting on the past 12 years and those steps and markers God put in our path to propel us toward FamilyLife. Maybe you’re reading this as you consider engaging with FamilyLife as a volunteer or full-time staff. Perhaps you’re not thinking in that direction but wondering how one moves from prodding from the Lord to action.

What if you’re asking the same ministry questions Dawn and I did prior to starting an application with FamilyLife? Questions like:

  • What is my calling?
  • Am I qualified?
  • Do I have what it takes?
  • How could I be involved with a family ministry after a spectacular failure in my own family?

Let me encourage you to keep asking those questions. And here are a few reminders to help you on your own journey.

Your journey is holy

Asking questions like the ones above is good. Keep doing that. But never forget your journey belongs to God. And because it does, it is holy.

Your calling is not to a place, ministry, role, or some geographical location but to a person. That person is Jesus Christ. It belongs to Him, and be refreshed to know your most important calling is to abide in and glorify Him with your life.


Prayer brings our hearts in tune with His so we can hear His still, small voice. In prayer, we come to God in worship. And the requests that are a natural part of praying include the need to know what He would have us do. See Acts 22:6-10.

Walk with God.

As we abide in Him, we get to know His mind. We hear His voice and know His heart, but we still come to Him and lay before Him our major decisions and life choices asking for guidance. Abide in Him in this season. Spend time in His Word.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Considering joining the FamilyLife team? Check out our career opportunities.

Your journey is not linear

Dawn and I didn’t bounce from jobs to seminary to Spain and back home to the U.S. in a straight line. Our course and trajectory have been filled with spectacular failures, incredible highs and lows, and detours and delays. Have you ever stopped to think about all the times biblical accounts involved detours and delays? The wilderness journey for the Israelites. Joshua and Nehemiah.

During our journey to Spain and then to FamilyLife, we learned three important truths:

  1. Detours and delays are God’s divine tools in shaping who you and will become.
  2. God is always at work.
  3. Keep stepping out in faith.

Excavate the root lies.

When Dawn and I are faced with big decisions, like joining an international ministry full-time, we can let worry and anxiousness umpire our hearts.

Several years ago, we began peeling back the curtain on why big decisions bring about those emotions in us. It came down to this: When we’re anxious about decisions, there are root lies we’re believing about the Lord. Here are just a few:

  • Root lie: God’s not trustworthy. God loves me, but He’s not going to show up and reveal Himself and His plans. So, I need to press forward with the best decision I can make.
  • Root lie: God’s not really in charge or in control. I need to make the decision for myself. Sure, I’ll ask God to “bless” me.
  • Root lie: God doesn’t want the best for me.

As you face decisions like the one you may be facing as you read this, ask the Lord to do His excavation work in your heart. Invite Him to dig out those root lies you believe about Him during the decision-making process. Let’s expose and confront the lies with the truth of Scripture!

One last thing …

Keep moving, friends. Keep trusting Him through the ups and down of this season or journey He has you in. And be reminded that you can trust Him in all things—even the detours and delays.

Join us in the conversation about His place and His passion in the Great Commission. If you’re investigating if your next steps could be with FamilyLife, please reach out to us through our Career Opportunities page.

Copyright © 2020 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.

Paul Cox and his wife, Dawn, joined FamilyLife in 2015. Paul leads a team of amazing Missionary Mobilizers (Recruiters) whose role and passion it is to shepherd the calling journeys of individuals who desire to serve at the ministry. Dawn assists Paul with mobilization projects while homeschooling their five children.