Friday, May 01, 2015

A Risk Worth Taking

Somewhere between comfort and risk.

Exactly one year ago today I was in the middle of the biggest risk I had ever taken.

Right around this very hour on May 1st, 2014, I arrived in Bozeman, Montana. Stace, Asher, and me were making the big move from Seattle back to Chicago. Stace and Asher had flown back the day before. The very last thing I did in Seattle before starting the drive was play basketball with my group of guys at 6:00 am. I was on the road by 7:30, trying to get back to Chicago by Sunday so I could make some final prep for my big interview that Monday for a campus recruiter position at a high-frequency trading firm in the city.

I thought the transition would be smooth, that I'd get the job and start work shortly thereafter, leaving us with no major gap of unemployment. But I ended up not getting the job. That whole ordeal is a story for another time.

Whether you know me well or not, you may not really have an idea of just how big of a transition this was for our family. I moved to Seattle from Chicago in December of 2011 after graduating with my Masters of Divinity to be a pastor at one of the locations of a megachurch there. Stace and I had just gotten engaged and we began planning our future together. She moved out in July 2012 after we got married and we started our life together in a beautiful, quaint little cottage style house, an ideal place to begin our cozy little adventure. I was doing well at the church and was asked to be a part of a residency that would eventually have me being the primary pastor at a future location. And just two days after learning that, Stace and I found out she was pregnant with Asher. Our family was growing and I continued to serve in that church in a significant capacity, but something wasn't right.

Our first home in the U-District of Seattle
I had been in paid ministry since I graduated from college in 2004. I worked with college students in Italy and at the University of Florida; while I was in seminary I helped start a church in Chicago and I did research for churches; and then there was this big church job. Yet at points along the way, I had always felt as though God was leading me in a different direction. This was hard to discern because I didn't fall flat on my face in any of what I was doing. I was "successful" if that's the word you want to use (well it's the best word I can come up with in my 30 minute limit), but that made the thoughts of something different more difficult to figure out because most of us equate calling with fruitfulness or productivity or success or whatever.

When I look back on it, there is this common thread that of course can only be seen looking back. It's almost like walking straight toward a blinding light because that's the only way to go, but when you look back you can see how that light defines everything behind you. I see that I never really settled into the ministry I was doing; in other words, I always thought the next assignment or step would be the right one, the one that lead to the perfect ministry calling. I also see that I confused paid ministry with the calling God had placed on my life. That may have been good for a season, but the calling wasn't necessarily to be paid for my service to Jesus' church. And, I also see that my restless involved the consistent nudge to work in the marketplace full time, not the church.

I got to hit up Mount Rushmore.
This all came to a head in February of last year. To make a much longer story short, I originally communicated to my supervisor at the church that I would finish there in either August or December to leave well, also giving me time to find a new job. But some well publicized events occurred in March that caused me to resign immediately. I was now a man with a wife, with an infant, with a number of bills -- all without a job.

There was huge risk in leaving paid ministry because that was 10 years of experience I was exchanging for something else. There was huge risk in resigning from a comfortable role at the church early knowing I had nothing in front of me. And there was huge risk to leave the only home we knew as a family for a place that was both old and new to us.

But we both knew then, as well as now, that it was all a risk worth taking.

1 comment:

  1. Love seeing our first little house there! Such sweet memories. It was a bold move that you took and I am so proud of you.