This is probably the longest I’ve let my blog go silent. But life has been crazy. And as I mentioned in a previous post, our family has been experiencing some significant changes.
So let me try and share what’s been happening. As mentioned before, one huge change has been in my career. After leaving professional ministry over four years ago, Debbie and I have been praying that God would reveal his will to us. For the first few years after leaving, I really wrestled with my perceived calling into ministry. Those years were filled with a sense of failure, doubt and quite a bit of depression. Fortunately, through a friend, God placed me in a wonderful work environment at Asian Access. I discovered a Christian organization where, believe it or not, everyone actually acted like Christians. The last three and a half years there were so essential to the healing I needed.
During that time, I applied for the senior pastor role at a couple of churches. And although I was the primary candidate at both, God spoke and told me very clearly that the timing wasn’t right. It seemed more and more evident that I would not be re-entering professional ministry anytime soon. Fortunately, Asian Access allowed me to stretch beyond my job description to contribute in a variety of pastoral ways. They allowed me to write, teach, lead worship, and screen applicants. Also during that time, I was able to contribute a chapter to two books, The Relevant Church and Out of the Ooze . And I had the incredible privilege of supervising two students from Fuller Theological Seminary in their field education projects.
Over the last year, I’ve become increasingly comfortable with the idea of not re-entering professional ministry. I know I’ve been called to pastor. But that doesn’t necessarily mean to do it as a career.
About two months ago, an opportunity arose to begin working as a computer technician for a local school district. Because of the circumstances that brought this opportunity to us, Debbie and I knew almost immediately that this was from God. So at the beginning of November, I began working for the school district as a consultant, waiting for them to post the job as a permanent position. In mid-November, they posted the job. Last Friday, I interviewed for the position and was later offered the position.
This kind of brings my professional career almost full-circle. Many people don’t know this, but I graduated from high school with an intended career path in computer science. In fact, I attended U.C. Irvine for one year with the goal of graduating with a degree in Information and Computer Science. After that year, God got a serious hold of my life and I spent the last 22 years of my adult life preparing for and enjoying professional ministry.
But I really sense that that part of my life is over, at least for now. I have absolutely no desire to go back into professional ministry. In fact, a month ago, I did something I couldn’t do for the last four years. I sold virtually all of my pastoral books! All of my commentaries, church growth books, ministry books, sermon books and even Emerging church books. I only kept a couple of commentaries, a few books on spiritual formation, all of my N.T. Wright books, and all of my Eastern Orthodoxy books. I sold about sixteen huge boxes of books!
The decision to sell my books was a huge one. Those books were the last connection to my identity as a professional pastor, the last emotional string to my heart. And you know what? It feels really good. Pastoring is completely about relationships now, not about mission statements, programming, or all the other stuff that has become associated with the modern church. And, I feel finally delivered from the crazy evangelical sub-culture that you find in most churches — the music, the language, the mixed up worldview, the distorted theology. (I know this may be somewhat difficult to hear for some who read this and I apologize. I’m not trying to offend. But being away from that sub-culture for a few years has made me realize how out of sync it is.)
So now I’m a computer technician, kind of like the Geek Squad for a school district. I work on a team with some great people in a district office with great people. Our team supports over 10 schools. We also support both the Windows (98, ME, 2000 & XP) and Macintosh (OS 8, 9 and X) platforms. Working there the last month has been very cool and I look forward to a long-term work relationship with the district.
Hopefully next time, I will talk about some spiritual changes our family is beginning to experience. (Although anyone who has read my last several posts will probably guess what those changes are.)