In December 2012, I quit my job.
I didn’t have another one to go to.
And though there were lots of extenuating circumstances that led me to believe that I knew what would be next– at heart I really didn’t have a plan. It was very UNLIKE me.
All I knew was that Kevin could not do his work at Feed the Children all over the world around the world while I remained in a full-time pastorate in Virginia. Something had to give. And it was my job.
I told friends and family that I quit because I wanted to finish my book manuscript (which I did, but have shelved for the proper time to bring it out again).
But at a deeper level I quit for other reasons.
Traditional, scheduled and go to into the office every day kind of ministry wasn’t fulfilling my soul.
And even if this meant I didn’t buy new clothes for a long time or buy a new car for a couple of years, I could not go another day in the same old routine.
I know I made the right choice, looking back now.
But, the next steps weren’t easy. The voices around me (or least the ones I heard the loudest) didn’t help either.
People said: “Oh, you must be a good housewife” (As if suddenly I became Martha Stewart or something. Wrong!)
Or, “Aren’t you so lucky you don’t have to work?” (As if I didn’t want to work. I did!)
Or, “You used to be a pastor?” (As if not having a specific location to pastor suddenly took my resume away. Not true!)
And looking back now, I have to say that leaving my acceptable job was one of the bravest things that I’ve ever done.
Why? Because I care what people think. I want to be normal.
Quitting my job, however, showed me who I was like no other experience could. John Lennon made famous the saying, “Life happens when you are busy making other plans.” I was busy making other plans. And by quitting my job, life showed me another way to live.
Slowly I began to find my place at Feed the Children within the PR/ Communications department. I helped to start the first ever blog for the organization. I began doing freelance writing and social media projects for colleagues. More and more friends asked me to preach in their congregations.
What I was doing felt more aligned with my being than it ever had before.
My life began to speak in a Parker Palmer sort of way saying:
- I am happiest when I am working with gusto toward completion of a short-term project. I can really be a force if I want to get something done.
- There’s something about preaching that fills my soul like nothing else can. I can’t NOT preach and feel fully alive.
- I feel most comfortable worshipping in an African-American church when at all possible or other settings out of my comfort zone
- Community is key for me in any task. I can’t work at home alone.
- I need a schedule with freedom. I don’t want every day planned but I become lazy with boundless free time.
Now, that I’m pastoring in a more structured (and more recognized) setting again, I’ve noticed how colleagues’ responses to me have changed. One even said, “Welcome back to pastoral ministry.” But the thing is I never left!
But in these months, I’m doing it differently.
I’m remembering more who I am and who I am not.
I’m saying yes more often to short-term projects that I know I have energy to complete.
I’m believing that I am a pastor– no matter if a church puts my name on the sign or not.
I’m thinking that interim work is more my speed as far as church life goes.
Ready to make a big life transition and afraid? Take courage from my story. You can do it too!