In 2013 I was pretty sure I’d never love my work, ever again. I’d served as a full time pastor since 2001, and though I kept some small side jobs going for fun and a little income, I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else as a vocation and finding it satisfying.
That perspective was emotional, not theological. Circumstances led to my leaving ministry, and though I made the decision, I didn’t make it happily. The transition to “a normal job” was dramatic, frightening, and depressing. Being just a bit into middle age at the time, I wrestled with the feeling that my best days were over, and my remaining years were going to be a relatively meaningless glide to the grave.
It didn’t help that my first post-pastoral work opportunity was mindless, repetitive, emotionally draining work (though with unexpectedly good compensation).
At one point, I tried to get into a dispatch job with the Wisconsin State Police. I don’t know how close I came to getting the job, but I’m so thankful now it didn’t pan out. Talk about emotionally draining work! I was not, at the time, fit to be making quick decisions with people’s very lives immediately at stake.
Sometimes grace is a closed door!
I ended up doing work that was far less interesting than dispatch would have been, but it wasn’t going to kill anyone—besides me, very slowly.
So for a while I thought everything I did after pastoring was going to be like that: sufficiently lucrative, but uninteresting, and relatively low skill.