November Forum Recap: Stephanie Garris on Serving Where Called


What is a great disciple? And how do you become one? Great disciples share some key characteristics, each of which can be learned and applied in all areas of your life. As J4 Leaders live and lead for Christ in the marketplace, it’s critical that they continually focus on their own discipleship. This year we are exploring some of the key characteristics of discipleship and how it applies to our work life.

Each month encouragers will share their personal stories of how they have developed themselves, and what J4 Leaders should aspire to as disciples in the marketplace. This month’s encourager, Stephanie Garris, Executive Director of Grace Medical Home, explored how J4 Leaders Aspire To . .  .  Serve Where Called.

God tells us to put feet to our faith – to live as evidence of who we are, and whose we are. That calls us to serve as He would have served – to the least among us. But what does that look like, and how do you know you’ve been “called?”

For Stephanie Garris, serving where she was “called” wasn’t always clear in the moment. “I didn’t feel called for every single decision, but in hindsight I can see it was a calling.” Stephanie had a love for democracy and government, which led her to pursue a career as a legislative aide on Capitol Hill. In that moment, she didn’t know if it was her “calling,” but she knew it felt right.

Through prayer and a sense of personal peace, Stephanie made critical life-shaping decisions that looking back, reflect the clear hand of God in her life, and clearly led to what is her calling. Sometimes serving where called simply requires you bring your best to what you do. To stay faithful in waiting on God’s timing and to surrender trying to control how and when everything should happen in your career. So long as you’re following God, you can be confident that He is with you. So long as you’re following God, you can serve where called.

In closing Stephanie recounted a story of her and her husband on a backpacking trip around the world. They had traveled to Nepal to hike to Basecamp at Mount Everest, but weather conditions forced them to hike another summit. After 12 days of hiking, one shower, and a bout of elevation sickness, Stephanie had had enough. It was time to head home.

Stephanie and her husband made arrangements to return to Katmandu, but on their way down the summit Stephanie’s husband wandered off the beaten path only to end up stuck in a rice paddy! Freeing her husband from the rice paddy put them behind schedule, and put Stephanie through the roof because she didn’t want to miss their flight to Katmandu.

Upon arriving at the airport they were met with more chaos and confusion, which forced them to make the 5-hour drive to Katmandu because they had likely missed the flight. Stephanie and her husband would later learn that the flight Stephanie so desperately wanted to catch had crashed into a communication tower killing all 25 people on board. If she had gotten her way, if they had made that flight, they could have lost their lives.

And so you have to remember, your steps are ordered by the Lord. You may not see it now, you may not know you’re “called,” but you can trust that your Father in Heaven is working all things together for good for those called according to His purpose.

If you serve Him right from where you stand, wherever you are called, He’s got you covered.

About Stephanie Garris

Stephanie has a lengthy career in civic activism and community service. Prior to working at Grace, she served as Executive Director for the American Cancer Society in Central Florida and held several positions in the federal legislative arena when she lived in Washington, D.C., including the American Hospital Association and the American Medical Association. Stephanie also worked as a Legislative Assistant on Capitol Hill and a political fundraiser. She attended the University of Florida and the American University Washington College of Law.

Stephanie has a long history of volunteer service in Orlando through the Junior League of Greater Orlando (President 2009-2010) and the Florida Bar Association (Elected Member, Young Lawyers Board of Directors). She is also very active in the Florida Association of Free and Charitable Clinics where she is a founding Board Member and Public Policy Chair. She also serves on the Board of the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics.  Locally, she is on the Board of the Primary Care Access Network and the Dental Care Access Foundation where she advocates for those in need of services.  She is an active member of the First Presbyterian Church of Orlando.  She and her husband are the proud parents of three young sons.