For as long as I can remember I have been one of those focused, passionate and at times driven people, who finds it hard to sit still for long and is always embarking on some kind of new project. Right from the early years of high school I have had a very clear sense of what I have wanted to do with my life and the jobs/roles I have wanted to play. I was always going somewhere, working on something or other and definitely couldn’t understand people who couldn’t clearly articulate their life’s calling and direction.
So the last few years have caught me off guard and I am still not sure what to make of them. Now instead of having that laser clear sense of purpose in life I feel like I have some big general objectives, but what I do to move towards them is less important. Also less important is the pace I move at. Its ok to jog rather than continually run hard.
Its been hard to trace the source of the shifts. I know some of it is stage of life. I heard it said ‘we climb mountains in our 30’s and we enjoy those mountains in our 40’s’ so I get some of that, but I’m still feeling somewhat disoriented by the new space and not even sure if its a place I want to permanently live.
Right now some of it comes from my struggles in my paid employment. My business is going well, really well and I could easily expand it, but I have made a conscious choice not to. I don’t want or need the headaches and responsibility that go with a bigger organisation, and right now the financial pay offs would not even close to being worth the emotional and time investment. But lately I’ve been struggling to enjoy it. I find it hard to get out of bed some mornings and the thought of another day of hard physical grunt work makes me weary before I even move. That said, I love the freedom that comes with being my own boss and the decent income that the business provides.
The other hat I wear is that of paid church leader and lately I have been enjoying that much more as our community has begun to get healthy. I asked friend who has been part of the church just for this year what he saw in the church when he arrived and he described as ‘something of a fixer upper’. A great image I thought and this year we have been involved in trying to restore some of its beauty. Its been an enjoyable year and after coming close to giving it all away in January we are feeling much more connected to the community and optimistic about the future.
But around this time of year I regularly have ‘I don’t want to be a pastor anymore.’ days. They are directly proportional to the amount of retic work I do and the increase in temperature. For 3 days of the week I go very hard at physical work so come Friday morning I am usually pretty wiped out. Thursday night has become my ‘Friday’ and Friday my day when I try to bash out a sermon. In slow retic times this wasn’t an issue, but now that things are firing again I’m struggling to keep up and conscious of just wanting to say ‘bugger it’.
Some days I want to quit the business and do something else but I have no idea quite what… I think during my Forge days I worked well as a coach / consultant, and I wouldn’t mind some of that sort of work again. Those roles are typically hard to find and I am not sure quite where I would fit these days. It would also mean a huge drop in earning and having to navigate that to make ends meet. Then there are days when I figure I will just quit being a pastor and run my business for an extra day a week. I sometimes feel relieved at the thought of that scenario and then there are days when it feels like one huge backward step. I completely ‘get’ the importance of living our faith in every aspect of life and making work and faith sync but I am not convinced that my business is making a huge contribution to the world and is much more than a source of income.
I do know God has gifted me to lead and communicate so I feel a responsibility to use those gifts in some form and at present ‘quitting’ my church job isn’t seriously on the radar. Its just something I’d like to do when I feel weary and swamped.
As I look around I see my peers in church leadership broadly heading in two different direction. Some are really ramping it up and doing everything they can to make the pastoral role a life ‘career’ and then there are others who seem to have ‘been there done that’ and have moved on to other work, sometimes willingly and sometimes because the church wasn’t what they had hoped it would be.
So in terms of vocation life feels somewhat hazy and seems to be in the same holding pattern its been for the last few years. I’m not actually convinced there will be any thunderbolts out of the blue to knock me off my feet, but I wouldn’t mind one all the same.
I occasionally think of Moses and the years he spent as a shepherd with Jethro before he saw the bush. I am guessing they were fairly unexciting years and possibly he wondered to himself ‘where is this all headed?…’ Maybe he just resigned himself to a shepherding life…
I feel like I have lived and worked out of my ‘sweet spot’ for about 25 years so this is still unfamiliar territory. Its not that its bitter, or distasteful. Its kinda like potatoes. It does the job and you can make the most of it, but there are days when it just doesn’t have the spice I would like.
Still potatoes are better than no potatoes…
“I think during my Forge days I worked well as a coach / consultant, and I wouldn’t mind some of that sort of work again” – can that not be done in the current church-role? Is the sermon up to you, or can someone else do that part?
The thoughts reflect a bit of reading I’ve been doing, so the question is a genuine one to someone who is at that part of the coal-face (paid-church-leader) from a (comparative) outsider.
Hi Toddy – yeah I can farm stuff out – but in this form of church I need to do a fair bit of teaching. I do some of the ‘coach’ stuff but again there are only so many hours available to do that stuff.
I don’t think there are any magic answers – but I’m hoping to find some more clarity!