7 years ago

Seven years ago, on May 8th, 2010, I graduated from seminary.  It was an exciting time.  I was done with my academic work for the time being and had finished a goal that I had set out to accomplish back in August 2002.  I had earned a Master of Arts in Theology and now a Master of Divinity.  To those who may not know, a Master of Divinity degree is a 96 hour masters program.  I would liken it to the MBA (Masters of Business Administration) in the secular world.

Seven years ago, there was a great deal of excitement because now I could focus on full-time vocational ministry.  I had wanted to go on and pursue additional education.  I had applied to attempt to work on a PhD but was not accepted.  I had thought about working on a DMin (Doctor of Ministry degree) most seminaries require that you have at least 2-3 years of post MDiv experience so that was out.

Back when I graduated from college in 1992 ( yes I am that old) I was basically told that because I was single and had no experience (outside of being a church layperson) that I had no right to expect anyone to hire me.  Fast forward to 2010, I was excited because maybe things would be different than when I had finished college 18 years earlier.  I was sadly mistaken, if anything,  things had taken a different turn, now instead of using the unmarried and inexperienced argument, now I was facing the grim reality of being over 40 with no experience and recently married with a 4 year old son (our daughter was born July of 2011).  I had actually started looking for a place to serve vocationally in January of 2010 which was four months prior to graduation.  I decided to keep a log of places that I had applied or submitted resumes to so that I would avoid duplications and be able to track the results.  I applied for four different jobs within a ten day time period in February of 2010. I was excited but soon to learn very quickly that churches and ministries do not always respond to resume submissions even though they request a resume.  The first two places that I sent a resume to never even bothered to respond and I found out later that they had called someone else.  I was unfortunately excited about opportunities and naive in thinking that somehow things were going to be different.  By the time graduation rolled around, I had applied or submitted my resume to six different places and had received three no responses and three declines right out of the gate.  This was going to be a challenge.

I graduated on a Saturday and unfortunately was back at work on Monday like nothing had happened.  I kept praying and thinking this is going to be different than college was.  I was in for a rude awakening.  By the end of my first year after graduation, I had submitted my resume to 24 different ministries and churches.  The rejections increased and I was wondering what was going on.  Did I do something wrong?  Is there something wrong with me?  By the end of the 2nd year after graduation I had sent my resume to nine different churches/ministries and still the rejections increased.  One church looked at my resume and after filling out two questionnaires rejected me and I emailed them back trying to figure out what I was doing wrong.  They said that because my background was primarily in administration, that I would be a micro manager and they didn’t want that.  That was hard to take especially since I myself resent being micro-managed.  I never had an interview with them, they deduced it from my resume (albeit a false deduction by them) As I came to the end of the 2012-2013 year, the discouragement set in very hard and I stopped looking.  I did not look or send a resume since 2/2/2013.  I determined that from this point forward that I was not going to send another unsolicited resume because I had experienced so much rejection and discouragement.   I was able to keep my mind off of it because I was working full time and was doing some traveling for my job.  Also, I was able to do a fair amount of pulpit supply preaching and speaking during this time.  That was going to change in 2014 when I was laid off from my job.  I thought maybe this would be the opportunity to get into full-time ministry.  I was sadly mistaken.  I was facing the decision of either going out on severance and having that last maybe 6 months and hope to find a job while other large employers in the Minneapolis area were laying people off in droves or move to TX and move into a similar position.  With a wife and two kids, we moved to TX in August of 2014.  When we moved, my preaching stopped because I did not know anyone and no one knew me.  I went from being fairly active preaching and teaching to nothing.  Not only was there stress in moving, I was trying to deal with the issue of trying to find a new church and “start all over again”  We went to a church for 9 months but it wasn’t a good fit and we left quietly. Now I was dealing with trying to adjust to not preaching or teaching any longer. We did end up finding a good church in January of 2016.

I received a letter from a church in MN April of 2015 and filled out two lengthy questionnaires only to be rejected.

Seven years later, I have sent out over 50 resumes and been rejected 50 times.  At this point, some have told me that I should quit that it is apparent that God must not have called me into ministry because there is no reason that I should still be looking.  I have met with several people in full time ministry looking for advice thinking I had done something wrong or had a wrong approach.  I did not receive any new or different advice from any of them

The last resume that I sent out was in September of 2016.  The emails and phone calls have just about stopped and dried up.  Although I did recently receive an email from a church that I had never heard of before, only to have them tell me that I was not selected to be their assistant pastor.  I was used to this response, only in this case, I had never applied for the position.  It is hard to answer the question when people ask you what do you want to do with your career when you are 48 years old and thought that you would be able to serve in full time ministry, after all that is what I went to college and seminary for and spent over $50,000.00 on an education?  Now, I am being told that I am too old and I have no real church experience (never served as a church staff member).

This morning, Monday, May 8th, 2017, seven years to the day that I finished seminary, I got up and went to work for the same company that I have been working for almost 15 years now (I started with them while I was in seminary) and came home and had dinner with my family like I do every evening.  I haven’t preached a sermon since last summer and I teach in our Sunday School class about once every 4 months or so.  I have to work hard to keep up my Greek and Hebrew skills because I do not use them very often anymore.  I feel like the closer I get to 50 and the further away I am from when I graduated, the less relevant I am because I am not part of the millennial generation.  Some of the guys I went to seminary with have already changed churches within the last seven years, some are still at the same place ministering, and unfortunately some have disqualified themselves from ministry.

I have prayed that God would open up the right opportunity for me since finishing seminary over seven years ago.  I have done nothing to disqualify myself from ministry even though I have been treated like I have been.



7 responses to “7 years ago

  1. 2 questions:

    1. Did seminary make you a better man: husband & father? (I suspect “yes”)
    2. Do you believe the Lord is absolutely sovereign? “[God] works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will” (Ephesians 1:11)

    If the answer to both is “yes”, I urge you to find complete contentment in Him. To NOT is sin!

    About the cost of seminary: It’s “His” money / not yours.

    • Jim, do you think that politics does not come into play in hiring in any church ministry? Been burned here many times…more than I can count because I was not rightly related or connected to the person or persons doing the hiring. One church wanted me to come, but they did not have the $$ to move me and they wanted me to take a 65% pay cut with no prospects for a secular job in that area…. to take that position would have been a wrong move for my family. I do not have an aversion to bivocational ministry, I would need to find a job within my skill sets (which are limited in the secular workforce)

      • I do think – not sure if “politics” is the right word – but “who you know” plays a large part.

        I don’t like to use the word “luck” but better – “in the providence of God”:
        I was in 3 churches. In each case they paid for a moving van and I did not have to work. So I had it easy

  2. Dear Brother –

    Landed on this page via SharperIron.org. I know exactly where you’re coming from, and I’d love to chat with you sometime. If you’re interested in talking, let me know and I’ll send you a private message with my phone number.

    Grace and Peace to you,

  3. Hey Terry-

    Sent you an email tonight. Figured I’d give you a heads up so you know to look for it – talk with you soon!

  4. I’m gonna make this right to the point. Being a minister is a gift from the Grace of God. You have to be 100% dependent on God and Gods power. The gospel is not a book. It’s how God speaks to you through the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ. You just don’t read the scripture you hear it. The Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ is my teacher my university. Im married 43 with children I don’t have a degree. Which im all for that if someone decides to go that route. Ministering is not a profession. It a gift. We all have different gifts a steward of gifts. So we are ministers of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Use these different gifts in the congregation. You have to have a true calling from God. It’s that you constantly spiritually hunger. It’s something that will never go away. Before I was saved I had a profession. Now I have everything up to seek serving the Lord full time. You have to have the Holy Spirit inside of you all the time. Have faith and believe in his word. It’s not an opportunity to serve the Lord. It’s an obligation. I have to do this. Believe me I was like why me. I would pray and pray and ask are you sure lord. And he just keeps reassuring me. God has a plan for all of us. He has know since where we’re in our mothers womb what we would be. He was just waiting for me to surrender. When I did the Holy Spirit came over me like a lighting bolt. He will not allow me to do anything else. I’ve tried. He just keeps calling me back. The gospel is not just something we read and see it will speak to you through the Holy Spirit. My pastor and my apostle have confirmed my gift of ministering. Jesus said youll be known as my disciples by how much you love each other. Not you’ll be known as my disciples, by your theology. I’ve read a lot of testimonies on people with theology degrees not getting hired. My opinion it’s sounds like they have not had a true calling from God to minister. Believe me that spiritual hungry will never go away to minister the good news of the gospel. And it sounds like your trying to sell salvation to win souls or sell the word of the gospel to make disciples. Ministering is not a want it’s a must do. Sure you can go up on the pulpit preach a sermon because of the degree and not a true calling. Gift from God to minister. Your elders and people of the church and your teaching to bible study and all other ministering through out the church will be itching there ears. If you are truly called by God and given the gift of ministering the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ will revive the congregation elders all other ministries throughout the church. The Holy Spirit will through Jesus Christ will make other disciples. And create a solid 5 fold ministries in the church. And when pastoring on the pulpit the Holy Spirit through you from Jesus Christ your sermon will be pure and vivbrant and powerful message. Win souls for the gift of salvation and making disciples and evangelist through out the congregation. So when they go out they can be a witness to Gods word according to the gospel and bring others in who are spirituality hungry. Convert non believers. If offered a position at a church you are gonna be an outsider to them and the community. But the congregation and the elders and the community are an outsider to you. See the congregation is not going to care if you have a degree as long as your filled with the Holy Spirit through Christ he will guide you and give you knowledge so you and the community and elders the congregation to grow together as one unity. A passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all people. A good fellowship lots of prayer worship of Gods promise to us. Be yourself as created you to be. So it’s not a profession to minister. It’s a gift by the grace of God. You can’t just want to do it you have to do it. Become Christ like. As Christ becomes everything you do. So the salary is a blessing from God to serve the lord. But a theology degree will not teach you how to become you the way God made you. It has to be a true calling from God. A lot of the best minister out there have no degree. They truly have the Holy Spirit through them from Christ. So this is my resume.

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