2014 was my first full year working outside the church since I was 18 years old. It sounds crazy but for the past 16 years I have held some kind of job within a local church or Christian institution. That streak ended in 2014 when I transitioned to lead Edgewater Collective.
I grew up thinking the only way I could truly serve God was to be working in a church or overseas in missions. Working in a local church was a higher calling, or so I thought.
I went to Taylor University and chose the Christian Education major with dreams of becoming a lifetime youth pastor. After college I continued my education at Denver Seminary for a Master’s Degree in youth ministry to cement this decision to invest in the spiritual development of teenagers.
But after serving in four different churches, I felt God calling me away from the church. Though the nonprofit I started is not a faith-based organization, I knew God had prepared me for this role. I sold all my “church” books and jumped into this new career. I soon realized that many of the skills I learned inside the church prepared me to work in education advocacy and community building.
As I dove into learning about public education and building relationships with various community stakeholders, I soon realized that God has uniquely designed me for this role. I came alive in a way that I never experienced working in a church. I also noticed that though this work was outside the four walls of a church, it could still be a “sacred” role.
Our family has also thrived as “normal” church attenders. For the first time in our marriage, Hillary and I were able to pick where to attend church. We could enter relationships and community life without the expectations that come with being the pastor’s family. Hillary has found a role in prayer ministry that would not have come as the pastor’s wife. Our girls have experienced worship in a more charismatic setting and experienced a different kind of relationship with the Lord.
Now my experience is obviously not normative. There are pastors I know who were created to work in a church. But there are also pastors who continue to suffer away in their church leadership role because they can’t see themselves working outside the church. Sadly, they are missing the role that they were created for.
I’ve definitely found that there is no such thing as a sacred or secular job. Every job can be sacred if we view our work as a way of serving God and others. Each job in my journey was very important in helping me learn the skills I use today as I lead Edgewater Collective.
I’m excited for what 2015 has in store for our work and our family!
Once we stop formal schooling, our personal development still needs to continue. In some ways, if we are intentional about our personal development, we can grow more outside of the classroom than we can within. We learn more by doing, especially when we document and reflect on what we are doing.
During my time at Denver Seminary, we all went through a Training and Mentoring program where we developed learning contracts to guide our personal growth. Each student developed learning contract for character development and skill development.
In my role at Mountair Christian Church, my lead pastor and I decided to develop learning contacts for the spring. Without intentional personal growth plans we wouldn’t be purposeful in our development.
So we each wrote a learning contract for skill development and character development. It is amazing how just developing a plan keeps me focused on what I need to learn.
Here is my skill contract for the spring.
Let me know if this tool helps you.
Here is a challenging way to think about our stuff and what we focus on from Dr. Craig Blomberg:
If we really believed that one day the new heavens and new earth pictured in Revelation 21–22 will be ours forever, we’d stop trying to get everything before we die and be content to wait, using our goods in this life to serve the least, the last, and the lost.
Read more of Denver Seminary’s Advent Devotional here.