EDITOR’S NOTE:  The following is an excerpt from The Next Level by David Gregory (WaterBrook Press).

Chapter 1

Looking for a job was the last thing Logan Bell wanted to be doing that morning. Playing video games, hiking, body-surfing, sleeping in—he could think of a hundred preferable alternatives.

But none paid the bills, and none provided an answer the next time his dad called and said, “So, Son, found another job yet?” That, perhaps, was his greatest motivation: having an answer. Any answer.

His dad, he had to admit, was right. Walking out on his first job after college, even if the boss was a complete jerk, didn’t look good on Logan’s résumé. Better to get another job immediately than take a much-needed break—especially a job at a leading software company. Logan’s undergraduate business degree might never land him where his dad was, near the top of a major high-tech company. But working for one would count for something.

Or so Logan thought as he pulled into the massive parking lot of Universal Systems Inc. “I’m here to apply for a job,” Logan told the first-floor receptionist. She smiled and pointed to a bank of elevators on her left.

“You need to see the Director. Fifth floor.”

“Is it true that you have to apply here in person?”

“Yes. You need to see the Director. Fifth floor.”

“The Director? Director of what—human resources?”

“No, the Director of the company.”

“You mean the CEO? The CEO sees people who just walk in off the street?”

“Yes.”

“Is there someone a little lower down I could talk to? I’m not looking for an upper-level job.”

“No. The Director personally interviews all job candidates.”

Logan couldn’t imagine how the CEO of an organization so large could interview all applicants. Universal Systems occupied the entirety of an immense circular building with five unusually tall stories. Behind the receptionist, in all directions, stretched the first floor as far as the eye could see. It was filled with employees sitting at desks and in cubicles.

There seemed to be no point, however, in further discussing whom he should talk to. He stepped toward the elevators, then turned back to the receptionist.

“Where do I go once I get to the fifth floor?”

“You go to the Director’s desk.”

“And where would that be?” Based on what he saw on the first floor, he could imagine wandering for hours trying to find the Director’s desk.

“You won’t have any trouble finding it,” she assured him.

He turned and walked toward the elevators, unsure how her answer could possibly be true.

A few moments later the elevator doors opened to another expanse. Like the first floor, the fifth extended as far as the eye could see. There were no walls to impede one’s view of its massive length and breadth, just desks stretching forever. In fact, unlike the first floor, this one was almost bereft of people. In the distance, a group sat around a conference table.

Beyond them, Logan noticed a man sitting at a desk. He walked in that direction. The man behind the leather-topped oval desk looked to be about forty. He was dressed in a brown business suit with a blue tie. The nameplate on the desk read simply “Director.” He rose from his chair and extended his hand.

“Welcome to the fifth floor. What can I do for you?”

“My name is Logan Bell. I came to apply for a job.”

“Wonderful. Have a seat.”

Logan sat in a leather captain’s chair in front of the desk. “I’m…I’m a bit surprised to be directed to you. Do you really interview all applicants?”