Brokenhearted Theology, California, Fuller, Ramblings

Career and Vocation

A break from reviews, and some thoughts on my current life situation.

Vocation.  From the Latin vocare, originally used in religious contexts to speak of a calling from God.  Something which you train and strive for.

Career.  What you get paid for.  Your professional/work life.

We moved to California 3 1/2 years ago.  The main reason was for me to spend three years working on my masters, to prepare me for a career working in some kind of ministry context.  Specifically, I envisioned myself working with college students in a church setting – largely due to my experience as a college student falling in love with the church (both the specific community I was a part of, and the more universal idea of what ‘church’ can be), being mentored by older adults, and being challenged to understand and live out a holistic gospel life, all contextualized within the educational atmosphere that I was immersed in.

I still get excited about working in a context like this; in a sense, I see it both as my desired ‘vocation.’  And I also see potential for this to be a “career” in the traditional sense (receiving a paycheck in return for spending the bulk of my working hours in this setting).

But I’m not there right now, and this has begged the question for me about whether, for this season, my “career” and my “vocation” might be more separated than I had once envisioned.

Early on during our time in California, we chose to be part of a unique and contextualized expression of the universal church – a community called Kairos.  We did this realizing that it was a different path than the one we had been on during our college years.  We did this realizing that there wasn’t an established traditional “college ministry” that I could pour myself into, boosting my resumé while allowing me to work within an area I am passionate about.  We did this realizing that the model of “staff”/”pastor” in the community would not likely provide a paid position at any point during our time here.  Regardless of these things, we came to love this community.  The people, the heart, the vision and direction.  We’ve been pushed and challenged in new ways, and in return we found ourselves offering parts of our own gifts, passions, and energies to a community of people we care deeply about.

Three years later, and we are still part of the same community.  We moved from Pasadena to East Hollywood to explore the ways that geographic/spatial proximity to our community play out in our faith and ministry.  We’ve invested deeply – relationally, financially, spiritually, etc. – into this community and have not regretted it.  Both Krissy and I have found ways to lead and minister in this setting: Krissy as a worship, small group, and relational leader, and myself serving on the congregational pastoral leadership team with a specific eye for helping the congregation to be immersed in the Scriptures.

We love this community.  I love the work I am able to do.  I am a pastor, making use of my education, experience, and desire to serve the church.  Vocationally, it is a good fit for me.  But…(why does there always have to be a ‘but’?)

…it is not a career right now.  I am not being paid, nor am I seeking to find ways to get paid for what I now do (either through reallocating our community’s budget to provide for a personal paycheck or by raising funds from outside our community to support my work).

So, I’m now in the position of looking for a career-oriented position that will provide a paycheck while allowing me to continue pursuing my vocation within the community of Kairos.  Ideally, I will find “career work” that is, at some level, connected with my vocational interests.  But, I recognize that at some point (particularly in this job market), I might have to settle for less than my ideal.  I may have to, at least for a season, be willing to accept a career that is not deeply connected and woven into my vocation.

Although I am content right now, this isn’t what I imagined would happen as my time at Fuller came to a close.  I may look back on this in a few months or a few years and laugh at my inability to see the bigger picture.  Or I may find myself frustrated and exhausted at continued attempts to reconcile this idealistic vision of my ‘vocation’ and the realistic need for a ‘career.’

The future is a bit blurry, and that is something we have (had to) come to accept.  We are excited to see what happens as it becomes clearer.

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