An Ex-Pastor’s FaithBlog / Produced by The High Calling
While I was the pastor of Covenant Baptist Church, I had other jobs on the side. I designed websites, did internet consulting, and was a freelance writer. I left pastoring because I no longer had the passionate desire to pursue that calling. I spent a year prayerfully considering the move. When I decided to resign the decision felt right to me. It still does.
At first I thought I could make a living by continuing my writing, consulting, and design work. But in recent weeks I’ve decided that I need the stability and the benefits that a full-time job can provide. So I made the decision to seek traditional, nine-to-five employment. The first order of business was putting together a resume. I called my sister, a Human Resources professional in Houston, to help me out. I sent her a rambling narrative of what I’ve been doing for the last twenty years. In the course of helping me organize it and put it into a proper resume form, she said something that was surprising to me. “Gordon, this may be hard for you to hear, but the twenty years you spent as a pastor may not help you very much. You might need to include it on your resume to account for those years, but we certainly don’t want to emphasize it. Depending on who is looking at your resume, it could even hurt you. There will be some in the business world that won’t know what to do someone who was a pastor. They might take the negative images they have of pastors and the Church and project them onto you.”
I went to a professional organization for help in my job search. A very experienced corporate recruiter told me much the same thing. What should I do with this new information? What does this say about how I spent the first half of my professional life?
First - I think these people have been honest with me. The world of the Church is foreign to many in our culture. The power structure of a church is mysterious. The pastor's power and position come from an esoteric education and a spiritual ordination. I can understand why some business people might prefer to keep those worlds apart.
Second - I’m not going to let people’s opinion of my past have anything to do with my own sense of worth. The twenty years I worked at Covenant Baptist Church were honorable and good years. I’m proud of those years and that life. Whatever anyone else says, I will not discount my past.
Third - While I may value my previous vocation, I have no right to expect others to value it. I will not spend any energy trying to explain myself. People will judge me in whatever way they decide to judge me. When you hand your resume over to others, they have the power to make judgements about you that mean the difference between having a job or not having a job. That’s the way it is. I'm not going to worry about something that is beyond my control.
Finally - After a decade of theological education and two decades of ministry, I may only now be discovering what real faith means. It is an important act of faith for me to celebrate my life as a minister. I refuse to believe that following God’s direction in my life will hurt me now. I have faith that I will be okay. If I lose a chance at a job because I was once a pastor, I probably don't need to work for that company anyway. Such a rejection would actually be a blessing for me. Real faith always involves acts of trust. So now I’m going to trust that God will honor both my past work and my desire to work in the future. I guess we’ll see where this faith takes me. Gordon