So as you know, I am perpetually hunting for a good ministry job. A place where I fit well, I am doing something significant and I am thriving in my gifting and passions. In the past year I have interviewed at a couple of churches but didn’t get a job. I have also gone from the short list for a couple pastoral positions to the scrap heap without so much as a conversation. Its been really frustrating and disconcerting and I have struggled to maintain my self worth while wondering what makes me so unemployable. I have also looked for work in the area, including with Logos Bible Software. Despite knowing a number of people in Bellingham getting hired there, the only position they interviewed me for was a little past my expertise and the countless other positions they have which I think I could have done and done well, they didn’t even considered me for. I’ve applied for other positions which were well within my expertise and I haven’t even heard from my potential employers. It’s been really frustrating.
But hey, I needed a job and got one with a local farmer’s co-op! So this week I have had some training on using a forklift, filling propane and the features and benefits of various animal feeds (horse and chicken, I’ll get more training later on other types). Today I get to spend actual time in the store. This is a job that I feel I could do reasonably well, but it is not the sort of job I thought I would be doing. I mean, I’m a city boy who has worked for urban ministry para-church organizations with homeless and senior citizens, and at-risk youth. I’ve done ministry with college students and am kind of a theology nerd. I’ve drafted and worked retail jobs, but nothing like this. I have a masters of divinity and I can’t get the satisfying ministry job I long for (My hunt is on hiatus), but I can get a job selling animal feed and fencing. Which brings me to my question, “God, What are you doing?”
In Let Your Life Speak, Parker Palmer reflects on his own vocational wanderings before he found his life call. He writes:
If we are to live our lives fully and well we must learn to embrace the opposites, to live in a creative tension between our limits and our potentials. We must honor our limitations in ways that do not distort our nature, and we must trust and use our gifts in ways that fulfill the potentials God gave us. We must take the no of the way that closes and find the guidance it has to offer–and take the yes of the way that opens and respond with the yes of our lives. (55)
These are challenging words because the story I find myself in, is not the story I would have written. As I my life, I wonder what God might be up to. Is this simply an opportunity for me to connect with friends and neighbors in our community (something I’ve been praying for)? Is this something that ’rounds me out’ so that I can relate better with people in a more rural context making me more appealing to rural and suburban churches? Is this just something I do now to feed my family while I bide my time for something better (with my pay check, not with animal feed)?
I feel confident that I will one day look back and be thankful for this season and all that God has been doing inside my heart. Certainly I’ve been able to explore pieces of myself that I may not otherwise have time for. One day it will all make sense. Right now I haven’t got a clue about what God is doing, where he is leading and where I will end up. But that is an adventure worth pressing into.