Category Archives: work

Doing what you trained for

The title may be grammatically incorrect, but I want to make a point with what I am writing.

I was thinking about something while I was walking home from the train station yesterday.  I was thinking about a friend who recently completed his first year of full-time teaching and recently signed a contract to teach next school year.  In reading his Twitter feed and Facebook posts, he really enjoys his job.  I went back and thought about what I knew about this individual and his path to his eventual teaching career.  He had a desire to teach (not sure how far back this goes) but he graduated high school and went off to college to train to be an elementary school teacher.  During his last year of school he had to put into practice what he learned in the classroom by student teaching.  This individual, as part of his student teaching taught my son in the 2nd grade.  My son enjoyed his lessons, especially the science ones.  We were just talking about some of them the other day and my son really enjoyed his lesson on the water cycle and that was well over a year ago, but he still remembers it very well.  What this showed was not only this individual was well-trained, he had a passion for what he was doing, but he also was doing what he believed God has called him to do and he was given an opportunity to do it!

Contrast this with those who train for pastoral ministry.  Same process.  There is the call of God on an individual’s life, they make that call public and then it is off to Bible college and then seminary.  Sometimes an individual will be required to complete an internship within the context of a local church which might be the equivalent of student teaching but not quite because most pastoral internships never really let the intern do everything, it is like the pastor is afraid that the intern will mess up and ruin his ministry.  Mark Dever once talked about letting the new pastor mess up and make mistakes, he related to his own experience at Capitol Hill Baptist Church when he first came that he indeed made a few mistakes and the people were patient with him.  Student teachers do not teach their first day or week, but they get one subject at a time, do a lot of observing and then towards the end of their time, they will teach for entire days with the supervising teacher observing and providing feedback along the way.

I was wondering how many people are out there that went to Bible college and seminary and invested large sums of money for their education some in excess of $50k and they are not in pastoral ministry?  There are some who have disqualified themselves due to moral issues, etc.  There are some who after completing their training may have decided that pastoral ministry is not for them.  What about those people who have a passion and a desire (1 Timothy 3:1) to serve the Lord only to find themselves working in a job or career that they had no intentions of working in except to pay the bills while they were training.  Their heart is not in it and their desires are elsewhere, but a cloak of silence has enveloped their life with regard to ministry.  No direction from a mentor or encouragement from a local church, just silence.  The secular job market really has no use for theological degrees.  Most jobs nowadays are requiring specialized training and specialized degrees. Experience alone will not get you a job now.  You wouldn’t want a airline pilot performing brain surgery on you?  Then why is it okay for pastors to work other areas that they are not necessarily trained for?

I remember reading several articles regarding people with Phd’s wanting to teach in their fields but there were not enough openings in the academic world so some of these PhD’s were janitors, waiters, etc.  and not able to ply their trades either.  That was a few years back and I trust that things have improved somewhat so those people could find work.

I would love to hear from you if you have a desire for pastoral ministry and have finished your college and seminary training but find yourself working in a field that you did not train for.  Please comment below and maybe this can be a catalyst to help and encourage others to be able to find a ministry opportunity since other venues have been notoriously silent.  Where are the people who will speak truth into the lives of others?

Is there anything wrong with doing what you trained for and invested your life in?


Moving around

Talking with my late mother several years ago, I found out that she moved around a lot as a child.  I never really found out why they moved so much, but it was funny when we were driving around different places in Southern California and she would point out where she had lived as a child.

Not until recently, did I think about the fact that I have moved several times myself.  When I was a kid we moved a few times before I was two and then we lived in the same place for 7 years and then my parents divorced and my mom decided to move to Reno, NV where I stayed for 3 years and then went to live with my dad for 7 more years until going off to college.

While in college, I stayed in the same place for 3 of the 4 years and moved to a campus house (non dormitory) for my senior year.  Once college was completed, then I lived with some guys in a house in Jacksonville.  Then I bought a place and that ended up being a disaster (long story), Moved into an apartment where I stayed until I moved to MN in 2002.

When I was thinking about moving, I calculated that I have moved over 14 times in my life.  That is a lot of moving!

Well, our family is going to move again.  We moved once shortly after my son turned 1, because we needed a larger place.  Now with two kids, we are out of room in our current place.

Lord willing, at the end of July we will be moving to the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  There are several reasons for this move for us as a family:

  • I have been out of seminary for three years this coming May and nothing is happening with regard to ministry.  One can only march in place for so long.
  • The current company I work for has a large office there and incidentally both of my bosses are based out of that particular office.  This could help my current career.
  • The cost of living is much cheaper in Texas and there is no state income tax.
  • Maybe moving to a new area, finding a new church will bring opportunities that do not exist currently.
  • We will be closer to my in-laws while they are away in the winter.

This comes with some challenges and caveats.  If we are unable to secure housing by the end of May, then we will not move in 2013.  One of the biggest challenges besides housing is finding a good local church.  My wife and I have been members of our current church for over 10 years. I came to MN for seminary and the eventual goal of being in full-time vocational ministry.  As much as I would like to stay, I feel that I must move on because there are no opportunities for full-time ministry here.   This is the only church that my kids have ever known. My son is currently in a Christian school and in DFW we noticed that Christian education is much more expensive than here in MN, so finding a new school is a challenge as well.  Moving is also going to be an expensive venture.  Since this is a voluntary relocation, the company will not fund it and I never expected them to do so anyway.  I am thankful that I am able to make this type of a move without having to go through the ordeal of job hunting as well.  One thing we will be getting used to is trading winter for summer.

We spent seven days in DFW in October and we got to see and do quite a few things.  I wanted my family to experience it first-hand.

We know that the Lord is able to provide exactly what we need.  We are trusting God in this endeavor.  He has provided an open door and we are walking through it at this time.  We would love to stay here in MN and that would be easy for us since we have been here for so long and we are somewhat established.  God gives us opportunities to grow us and stretch us outside of our comfort zone.

Please pray for us.

Phrases that need to be banished

Recently, I have received a few rejection letters and they all contain phrases that need to be banished – never to be used again

I have archived your email with your qualifications and ministry resume should any openings come up in the future.

Translation:  I have either filed your email somewhere never to be found again or I have deleted it off my computer.  I have no intentions of ever contacting you again, but I did not want to be so blunt.

I have seen similar phrases in a secular job environment where they promise to keep your resume on file and contact you if any openings in your skill set are available.

One question – Has anyone ever sent their resume somewhere for consideration and then you were rejected and told the same thing?  Has anyone ever been contacted after the initial contact?

Like Jon Acuff has said – Stop saying polite lies!

Another one is the word “whatever”  – Now this one I have used before, but the more I hear it, the more distasteful and disrespectful it sounds.  It is almost like people use it in order to silence their opponent, kind of like a smart bomb in a video game that blows everything up.  So when you here that, it is almost as if you cannot reply to what was previously said.

“It is what it is” – this one makes no sense at all.  I hear it all the time in the workplace.  It is another one of those phrases that I would love to see become extinct quickly.  It is a cheap way of saying that you cannot change anything and rather than try you will give up and this phrase seems to be some sort of affirmation of that fact.

One term that drives me nuts – supper.  It sounds whimpy… Where I came from – lunch was the noon meal and dinner was the evening meal.  Supper just sounds so wimpy.  This is another word that I would love to see disappear from the vocabulary of many…

Just my thoughts here on a Friday evening and I welcome yours in the comments (except for spam)






It just hit me…. 20 years

While having a conversation with my dad yesterday, I realized that I have been working full-time for 20 years!  If I had stayed with the same company (which is probably a rare thing to do in this day of uncertainty, unemployment, and mergers, etc.) I would have been there for 20 years.  I am thankful that I have had a relatively stable work history.  I started working full-time in 1991 just before I graduated from college.  I stayed with that company until 1999, surviving two acquisitions and managing to keep my job both times.  In 1999, I went to work for an independent Baptist mission agency in Jacksonville, FL.  I stayed there until 2002 when I moved to MN to attend seminary.  I was unemployed from August to October of 2002 and have worked for the same company since October in 2002 in two different capacities.  I have done the unenviable job of business to business collections (both in person and over the phone) Not my idea of a great job, but it paid the bills while in seminary, when I got married and when we had our first child.  Shortly before my son’s first birthday, I changed roles within this company and now I have a somewhat less stressful job in the Financial Operations area dealing with manufacturer rebate contracts.  It is an okay job, the pay is not competitive for this area, but the benefits are outstanding!

I am still looking for ministry opportunities, but there are not many to be had these days.  In the meantime, I am trying to find something that pays better because we are expecting our second child in August and we found out that God will grace us a with a little girl!  We have not decided on names yet, but I have stated that I would like to give her my mother’s first name as her middle name in honor of my mother who passed away in 2006.

April is a birthday month for our family.  My sister-in-law celebrates her birthday today (2nd), then my dad and sister share the same birthday on the 10th and then I am three days later (13th) and my son is on the 20th and one of my nephews is the 23rd.

Turning 40 did not bother me, but now that I am turning 42, it is starting to bother me a bit because I have been looking at my life and what I have accomplished and what still remains to be done.  I can remember when I was fresh out of college and full of zeal and ready to get busy for God and yet I was told that I could not expect to be hired by any church because of a few things:  1) I was young (23 at the time) 2) I did not have any experience  3) I was not married.

Now almost 20 years later, I am now looked on as being old (even at 42) still no formal church experience (being paid and having a title), but I am married and a father.

I also heard about one of my seminary  colleagues who is getting ready to go into full-time ministry upon his graduation in May, he already has a place to go!  I am glad that he will not have to experience what I have over this last year of rejections and lack of interest on the part of many churches/pastors.

Lord willing, the next 20 years of working will hopefully be more fruitful than this first 20!

An unusual day…reflections regarding work

Today started out a bit unusual, because I was able unable to make it to work due to the freaky snowstorm that we had here in the Twin Cities.  I went down and cleared off my car and attempted to back it out of the parking spot, except I was not moving because of the ice underneath the tires and the wet, heavy snow surrounding the car.  I tried a couple of times and decided that it is better not to burn rubber and the transmission at the same time.  The snow won that round.  I went back inside to regroup.  I called into work and left a voicemail regarding my dilemma. I figured that as soon as our parking lot and street were plowed that I could get into work. Well, we did not get plowed until 11:00 am and by that time the traffic was still bad and the snow was coming down.  So I took my first snow day in 9 years. I do not ever remember missing work because I could not get there!

Even though I enjoyed being home with my family, I still felt out of sorts because it was Wednesday and I am normally at work.  I was able to get some things scanned into Evernote and filed and my desk is staying cleaner than usual.  Now that I am almost at the end of the day (church was cancelled for this evening)  I am watching cars out the window come in and out and the road is very treacherous because of the slush and that will only get worse as the temperature drops below freezing.  I have been reflecting throughout the day about work and its place in my life.  I realize that we cannot escape work because work has been a part of our lives since Genesis 3:23.  As we read the Bible, we will see things like Proverbs 11:18 – The wicked man does deceptive work (NKJV) and where God calls people to a specific task (Acts 13:2 – Barnabas and Saul).  We also see in 2 Thessalonians 3 where Paul reminds the Thessalonians about the importance of hard and honest work.

We know that there are extremes with regard to work.  Undoubtedly, either we know someone who is a “workaholic” or maybe we are guilty of being one ourselves? On the other extreme, there are those who are lazy and insolent in regard to work.

I am currently in a position where I am employed by a company where I am not tethered to my job with a company issued laptop or smart phone.  I do not have the capability to bring work home or to work from home on days like today.  When I leave each day, I make a sincere attempt to leave work and its related problems and challenges at work.  They will be there when I return the next working day.

I was also having a conversation with someone earlier in the week with regard to worker productivity.  I shared with this person that it is tough in some areas (ministry) to measure productivity because most pastors do not have an expected output,etc.  Where I work, my work is tracked from beginning to end and there are audits of my work, reports telling how much work I have completed/accomplished, etc.  I think that goals can be set for everyone in the workforce, but they cannot be viewed in a “cookie-cutter” mentality. They have to be attainable, reasonable, measurable,specific, etc.

Work is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is tough when one does not necessarily enjoy what they do.  It becomes more of an economic necessity or as some would term it a “necessary evil.” For me, if I was financially well-off, I would still be involved in some form of work, because I would have a hard time sitting around doing nothing or doing aimless things all day just to pass the time.

All of this to say, that I am glad things happened the way they did.  It gave me a chance to attempt to understand the relationship that I should have with my current vocational employment and possibly ministry employment in the future and how that relationship should be shaped and formed around what the Word of God says.

My thoughtful son

I am a creature of habit…. it must be the perfectionist tendency that I possess. Everyday when I get home from work, I put my keys, wallet, and work ID badge in the same place, so that I do not forget them or lose them.  Friday was no different, I hung my badge up when I got home and did not think twice about it, until I was getting ready for church on Sunday afternoon (I had a early meeting prior to the evening service) when I noticed the empty lanyard without a badge.  I knew I had it when I came home, but did not have time to go on an exhaustive search for it.  I let my wife know that my badge was missing and that I would look for it later that evening.

As I was driving to church, I was attempting to re-trace my steps from Friday and at the same time I was praying that I did not drop my badge between the parking lot and my apartment.

I did not think about it anymore until I returned home later than evening and my son told me that he saw my badge hanging precariously from the lanyard and he did not want me to lose it, so he took the badge and placed it in my drawer.  That was very thoughtful of him and I thanked him for doing that!

If I had indeed lost the badge… it would have cost me $$ to replace it, been a hassle to get in each morning at work until it was replaced. It would have been a major inconvenience.  Thanks to my son Joseph for his thoughtfulness and looking out for his dad!

Light at the end of the tunnel

I apologize for not posting more often…. yes I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and no, it is not a train coming at me!

Seminary will be over for the semester this week. I am almost done with my 1st of 2 degrees. In the fall, I will be taking three classes (two are to complete the current degree that I am almost finished with – Master of Arts in Theology with a Biblical Studies emphasis – MATBS — one course is for the Master of Divinity-MDiv — that I will finish once I get the MATBS) Sound confusing?

Basically, I started working on the MDiv in 2002. You technically have 5 years to finish the MDiv. I was at my fifth year with at least another two to go. After prayer and consultation, I decided to drop back into the lesser degree of the MATBS, get that degree, then apply those credits and the work I have already done to finish the MDiv (96 hrs). Lord willing, I will graduate with the MATBS in May of 2008 and the MDiv in May 2010 or sooner, depending on how I progress.

I have also entertained the idea of seeing what will be available for ministry positions once I get the first degree. It would be nice to get a ministry opportunity if possible (locally) while finishing the MDiv. We will see what happens there.

My work schedule will change once seminary is done for the semester which will allow me to be off on Friday afternoons, which I enjoy, my wife enjoys, and my son Joseph will hopefully enjoy having dad around a little more than usual.

Hopefully, I will be a bit more disciplined to post here more often.