pecaspers: a Blog in transition

July 2, 2009

Ministry Job Hunting

Filed under: My Life in General — pecaspers @ 7:21 PM
Tags: , ,

(This post must be read with a smile on your face. If you aren’t smiling, then you will read it in the wrong tone.)

Most of May and June were spent taking pictures at graduations around AL and GA. In June I spent a week in IN building a church building with Carpenters for Christ, then a week getting ready for Vacation Bible School, then a week working VBS, and finally most of last week I was preparing for a sermon I preached this past Sunday. At long last, this week has been largely spent job hunting.

I hate to even call it that, “job hunting,” but I don’t want to confuse people or hyper-spiritualize it by calling it something like “potential place of ministry research.” It’s a funny thing though; I’m willing to use a good, easily understood secular term like “job hunting,” but I shudder at job posts that read as though a church is looking for a business manager rather than a spiritual leader. Too often for my sensibilities churches list as the qualifications something like this: “motivated, self-starter, strong administrator, organized, multitasker.” Those are great, but ultimately unhelpful since nobody–in business or ministry–is looking for an apathetic and sloppy slacker who needs to be watched like a hawk and never finishes what he starts. Yes, I appreciate that there is some commonality in the two job markets. There is a difference though, isn’t there? Shouldn’t there be?

As a Southern Baptist, there doesn’t seem to be much difference between looking for a ministry position and looking for a secular job. We have job search sites, emails with interview tips, and all of the other useful tools for finding employment as there are for secular career seekers. I regularly check the classified ads in a number of Baptist papers, online of course, looking for possible leads. (My favorites are the ones where the church obviously can’t afford more than the minimum words in the ad so it reads like this: “FBC Somewhere is prayerfully seeking pastor. Send resume to 101 Co Rd 777, Somewhere, AL,” and they leave you knowing NOTHING about the church. Also, these churches almost never have up-to-date websites where you can learn more about them. I’m sure I’m not walking close enough with the Spirit to hear Him calling me to a place based solely on an address. But I digress.)

I regularly cruise through the postings on the SBC website as well as those posted with the Ministry Resources department of The Southern Baptist Seminary. These are usually pretty informative; I assume they don’t charge by the word to be in these. In these postings, the job description or qualifications often include some reference to the biblical qualifications for a pastor/elder. And this gets to the part where I think I’m a complete hypocrite, because seeing that in a job posting seems ridiculous to me too. Oh, really, your church is looking for someone who is spiritually mature, faithful to his wife, and doesn’t dabble in the dark arts? That’s good to know.

Most churches seem to be looking for someone with 3-5 years (or more) of experience in the same type of position at a church of the same size. What really gets to me are the relatively small churches that say they are looking for someone with two to five years of experience in a man who won’t consider their church as a stepping stone to somewhere bigger. I know what they mean; they mean they are looking for someone who will stick around. But don’t they see? They are asking for someone to leave wherever he got his experience and treat that place as a stepping stone up into their church? People need to decide if staff moving from one church to another is something they approve of or not.

I also take issue with the idea that a person MUST be specifically called to an age group (or even place or people group) to work with said age (etc.) group. Can’t a guy who is called to build up God’s church do that just as well with youth as he can with adults? I understand that for far too long youth ministry really has been seen as merely a stepping stone into something “better,” and that is a tragedy. And I know that God apparently does call and gift people to work specifically with youth (or senior adults, or West Africans, or post-modern twenty-somethings, or whatever). However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that a guy called and gifted to teach and equip God’s people can’t or shouldn’t minister among God’s young (or whatever) people.

But now it just sounds like I’m ranting. Hmm… I suppose that I have been ranting to a degree. Let’s turn a corner.

What I’m trying to say is, it’s frustrating. And I’ve had a number of people respond to the very mention of the word “frustrated” as though it were another F-word. God tells us in His Word not to worry, not to be anxious, never once does He tell us that we can’t or won’t feel frustrated. I’m not anxious. I don’t lose any sleep over not having a place of vocational service. I do not worry about it. I know that God has a perfect plan and His timing is better than mine. I am waiting, as patiently as He has enabled me. (And sometimes too patiently for my wife’s taste.) And still, I can feel the schemes of the Adversary and the pressure to conform to the ways of this world FRUSTRATING my search.

So maybe it’s a misunderstanding of the meaning of the word. I mean only to say that I can tell that there are forces at work against me and that it wears on me. God is my Rock and my Refuge and a very present Help in times of trouble. I’ll be in trouble if I stop resting on him and start focusing on the frustration, but I’m not there now. In fact, I haven’t gotten to that point very much at all.

Here I am waiting on the Lord’s good and perfect timing. Watching (that is to say, job hunting) and waiting.

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4 Comments »

  1. God replied to this post yesterday, here’s what He said from Psalm 4:4-8 . . .

    Be angry, and do not sin;
    ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent.
    Selah

    Offer right sacrifices,
    and put your trust in the LORD.

    There are many who say, “Who will show us some good?
    Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!”
    You have put more joy in my heart
    than they have when their grain and wine abound.

    In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
    for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.

    Comment by pecaspers — July 6, 2009 @ 9:17 AM | Reply

  2. copied from facebook:
    Matthew Caldwell at 3:57pm July 2

    as for the smile…hows this…the facebook advertisement on your note is to become a fan of demi moore…

    interesting…

    Comment by pecaspers — July 6, 2009 @ 9:41 AM | Reply

  3. copied from facebook:
    Laura Jemian Olds at 4:43pm July 2

    “Oh, really, your church is looking for someone who is spiritually mature, faithful to his wife, and doesn’t dabble in the dark arts? That’s good to know.”

    This totally made me laugh out loud. I miss reading your writing, and plan to add the new blog to my google reader. And please don’t delete *all* the lj entries.

    Comment by pecaspers — July 6, 2009 @ 9:41 AM | Reply

  4. copied from facebook:
    Kimberly A. Dennig at 9:25pm July 2

    Too bad you didn’t go to seminary at Newberry or Concordia. The Lutheran church in Auburn is looking for a new pastor.

    Comment by pecaspers — July 6, 2009 @ 9:42 AM | Reply


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