Journal Author

Jennifer Johnson

Lawyer

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Illustration by John-Mark Warkentin

Journal Author

Jennifer Johnson

Lawyer

10 short sound bites from Jennifer about her thoughts and discoveries on living out her calling as a Gospel Patron.


10 short sound bites from Jennifer about her thoughts and discoveries on living out her calling as a Gospel Patron.


01

Hello, I'm...

My name is Jennifer Johnson and I am an attorney in private practice in Orange County, California. I started my career as an ICU registered nurse so I have combined my nursing background with the practice of law and I now represent victims of medical malpractice in Southern California and elsewhere around the country. 

One thing that always surprises people about me is that I was first a music education major, classical piano was my instrument. In my junior year, I changed my major to psychology as I was suffering from an eating disorder and thought the answer was to learn about psychology. I then went to nursing school as a way to keep deferring my student loans while I was deciding what I wanted to do! At age 28, I finally found my passion, the law, at which time I started law school at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

02

Giving

I was the preacher’s daughter in our small town in South Dakota where I grew up. A couple in my father’s church, the Duttons, owned a lumber yard in a nearby city and they were the richest people I knew. Twice a year they would take me shopping in Rapid City and buy me beautiful clothes and shoes. I concluded that they were so rich because they were so generous. I connected those dots and wanted to be like them. 

The first time I made any money going door to door selling greeting cards, I spent my entire paycheck on gifts for my family, for no occasion. It gave me so much joy!

03

God's Generosity

I see God as extravagantly generous. He is so over the top in his generosity to me and his attention to detail just blows me away. Recently, after settling a large case, it just so “happened” that money became available from the bank for me to pay off a church building. When I called my brother, who is the pastor, to tell him the money would be wired on April 5, 2018, he said, “Isn’t it cool that this is happening on the ninth anniversary of the very day we started this church?!” Wow God! Wow! I could never have ever made that happen! 

04

Dangers of Wealth

Wealth can be controlling in one’s life, whether it's an abundance of it or lack of it. I have seen money be the driving force in the lives of others I have worked alongside of, both as a nurse and more so, as a lawyer. I have even seen money be the driving force within the walls of the church when financial decisions are based on what is seen rather than what is unseen. 

After I started my business, I did not make any money until the end of my second year. In the process, I sold my house to pull out the equity to keep my business going. I moved into a one-bedroom apartment. I was constantly worried about how long it was taking for me to get the business profitable. I wondered if I had made a mistake by starting my business. During that time, I kept giving my tithe as well as gifts over and above that as I felt prompted by God and God always came through. 

My biggest turning point came after the sudden death of my best friend. Up until then, I had been trying to accumulate a large investment portfolio, but then I decided to start focusing on using my wealth to build God’s kingdom for eternity. When I gave up worry about money, at first it felt irresponsible of me. Now, I pretty routinely avoid the worry path as it is just wasted energy!

05

Treasuring Jesus

I really could not make any sense out of life if it was not for Jesus. He is the motivating force for pretty much everything I do in my personal and professional life. 

There have been times in my life where I had little to no money and other times when I have had way more money than I need. During all of those seasons, Jesus has never changed in what he is for me. I love that about Jesus – he is always the same! Any worldly success I have achieved has come as I have been seeking hard after Jesus. “For the Lord is a sun and a shield. The Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” (Psalm 84:11) I have experienced this to be true in my life. 

06

I Wish I Knew...

Even as a young child, I really had the seeds of what I now know about giving and generosity. However, at 25, I was pretty afflicted with anorexia and bulimia, which I would not overcome until five years later. I wish I knew then that I did not have to allow my own struggles to keep me turned inward. I now know that situations and strongholds often change when I make it my business to care for others, even in my own pain. 

Two years ago, I was engaged in some very intense consolidated cases. One Monday morning, after a restless night of sleep, I was driving to work overwhelmed by how much work I still had to do to get ready for my court hearings that afternoon at 1:30 p.m. I had worked all weekend and had been up praying for my hearings and my cases. As I drove to work I asked, “Who today needs a word of encouragement or something from me?” I was reminded of a single mom friend of mine who had recently been fired from her job as a legal assistant. That moment I called to see how the job search was going and she said, “Not good.” I told her that I would take five minutes and post her resume. I did so and within minutes I had so many responses to my email and even one colleague who called my cell phone making me promise to not let anyone else hire her before she had a chance! By 4:00 p.m. that afternoon, my friend had an interview for the next day and God gave my friend the perfect job. Meanwhile, I went to court and crushed it! 

That situation reminds me that as I give and serve others, God takes care of me! A special type of miracle happens when in our need, we care for the needs of others.

07

My Routine

I cannot miss my morning quiet time with God. Before my feet hit the floor, I say out loud, “God, if I don’t do anything else today, I want to get to know you better and love you more.” I learned that from my pastor, Pastor Rick Warren. If I do nothing else today, my day will be a success if I do only that.

Then, I have my coffee while meeting with God in prayer, Bible reading and journaling. If I am extremely busy, I tend to spend more time with God as I am aware that much of my success is dependent on being aligned to hear God's voice all day long. 

I also pray that God makes me aware of appointments he has for me that may not be on my calendar. I try to not be afraid to be interrupted as interruptions in my schedule often set the stage for a miracle. Jesus’ life was filled with interruptions and that’s when miracles often occurred. (Mark 5)

08

Giving Decisions

I start with the tithe. That is not a decision, it's automatic and instinctive now. I increased it from 10% the last few years to give 15% to God. 

Then, my other decisions about giving start with an impression. If I am ever not sure an impression was God, I err on the side of giving because I would rather give and be wrong, than not give and be wrong. I have never even once regretted being generous. Not once. 

Oftentimes, if I get money or income unexpectedly, I know that it is just to pass through me to someone else. Those situations are usually a forewarning that God has someone who needs what he just placed in my hand. One Friday a few years ago, I received an unexpected deposit of $20,000 from work our firm had done some time ago. That very weekend, I was traveling back to the town in South Dakota where I had grown up to attend a school reunion. While there, I visited the church I grew up in where I met the lumber yard owners, the Duttons, who used to take me shopping and impressed generosity on me. They had died years earlier. 

As it turned out, I learned that Sunday that the church was without a pastor and on the verge of closing due to lack of finances. Of course, I knew God was not in the business of closing churches down and I immediately knew why I received the $20,000 earlier that week. I immediately turned the check over to the church to keep the doors open. I found it so like God to give me money to keep that little church alive! Shortly thereafter, God called the Dutton's granddaughter to serve in that church. God is full of surprises like that!

09

My Mission

My life purpose came to me a few years ago as I was in prayer. It’s in the form of the acronym: JPEG. 

Justice – God says, “ I the Lord LOVE justice. I hate robbery and wrongdoing.” (Isaiah 61:8) God is the God of justice. At times it seems as if society has hijacked our justice system, but I try to practice law with the knowledge that God is the author of justice and he loves justice. 

Prayer Without prayer, none of the goals we attempt will succeed. Prayer changes things. Through prayer, people wake up. Through prayer, God changes me. 

Elevation of others I try to build others up and put the needs of others ahead of my own needs. This includes mentoring young attorneys and law students. 

Giving I want to be an extravagant giver. I have been told several times that I am too generous. If that is my biggest fault, which it is not, I can live with that! I give because I want to be like Jesus who gave it all and besides, giving is the most incredible and fulfilling thing!

10

3 Words

There are so many, but compassionate, generous, and resilient are at the top.

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