Thursday, November 7, 2013

From Pastor to "Normal"

About 1.3 years ago, I left the pastorate for the stake of my family and my conscience. I took an ordinary Monday through Friday job as an academic advisor. While there is a lot pastoral about this job, there are many things I was pretty naive about as I lived day to day in my new vocation. Here is a small list of things that I found difficult as I made the transition.

1) Studying the Bible is hard. While I have clearer time breaks between work and play, I thought I would have more time to read and study but that failed to account for what purpose. I still love it so much. I'm listening to Podcast and lecture like crazy. However, without an avenue to teach, I find it hard to sit down and study something. I miss the forced accountability to study the Bible for a purpose.

2) Getting connected to/at a church is hard. As a theologically trained person, I knew it would be difficult. Also, any church worth its salt would make it difficult for some random person to show up and teach. But just average fellowship is harder than I remembered. As a pastor, people were naturally drawn to a pastor. They want to connect with you. While the relationships also took time to develop, people had more reason to work at it. This time, as just a normal bloke, there is no natural draw to relationship. This could be more to the fact I have two kids where before I didn't but I can't help but think this plays a small part.

3) "Normal" work is harder. Pastoring is hard. Don't get me wrong. The problem is I have to be on constant guard on what I say and how I act. Carl Trueman rightly put it recently the following:
Perhaps it is time for those of us who have ministerial jobs which we by and large enjoy which actually shield us from much of the aggressively secular world out there to spend less time puffing ourselves up as martyrs to a cause or as danger men living risky lives on the edge and instead give thanks for the comparatively easy green pastures in which we have been allowed to lie down. (source)
A "normal" job forces me to skirt the issue plaguing everyone when trying to help them. I can't come right out and tell people you are sinner and it is because of your sin that you are experiencing pain and suffering. I can be subtle and it is great that I work with a bunch of Christians. However, there is always that constant fear.

4) The future prospects are hard. A man with M.Div doesn't have direct career paths outside of church world. So while I would love to get back into church world, I don't see that directly happening in the near future. So do I get more education?  Do I hold I hope of getting back into ministry? I don't like my options. I trust that God will provide and call me to my vocation. I know there is always a prospect of changing jobs but it is the the what I will do that concerns me.

I'm still struggling but I know this is my season of life. It is hard but God is good and I trust in him.