Two Weeks Removed/In …

For the last 6 years of my life I’ve been a church-ministry guy. A month and a half ago I left my job, unsure of my future, but knowing that I could not, at this point, continue to work in the church. I started the job hunt (poor timing) and after about a month, landed a job as a waiter and bar-back at a new restaurant & bar in Atlanta called Ormsby’s. Here are 3 observations I’ve made so far:

1. Nothing helps to confirm a calling like job hunting – At the very beginning of this significant life transition, I was admittedly becoming skeptical of my calling into “the cloth” as it has been called … the life felt like a little bit more of a burden than I was willing to commit the rest of my life to. But as I searched, interviewed, analyzed, and interviewed some more, I slowly came to the realization that I was nowhere near as excited about any of the jobs I was interviewing for as I had been about the job I left; “proclaiming the great message that we carry as ministers of God’s Word, and followers of Jesus … that God loves us not because of what we do or accomplish, but because God has created and redeemed us in love and has chosen to proclaim that love as the true source of all human life.” – Henri Nouwen In the Name of Jesus”

As it is now, I am planning to continue on my original path, pursuing my calling through attending Columbia Theological Seminary, beginning in July (if I get in … )

2. Either people don’t change, or I am incapable of it – One of the things I was excited about in taking this job was the freedom of being able to leave work at work. When I was building/running a college ministry, I would often stay awake at night, tossing and turning, agonizing over why students weren’t showing up to theology on tap, or concerned for a specific, hurting, lonely student in another state. It would seem like those kinds of “keep you awake” concerns don’t really exist in the restaurant world … but I have once again found myself unable to sleep, tossing and turning worrying about messing up large table’s orders, or dropping plates in customers’ laps (that one I’ve already done!) … literally … can’t sleep because of it. And so I suppose it is just who I am to over-worry about anything I have control over, large or small. I must say, this self-discovery has come as quite a disappointment.

3. Old Thoughts are often more helpful new ones – I was re-reading some of my writings from the last 6 years the other day and came across something that I wrote during my junior or senior year of college, when I had ministry in the church, and apart from the institutional church, on Georgia Tech’s campus. The gist was that I really preferred to be doing ministry outside of the church … or at least with the types of people who aren’t usually found at churches. I didn’t know then, and I still don’t know if that is because that is how God wired me, or if the distinction is just similar to the differences in coaching a 4 year old and an 18 year old in swimming; it is much easier to see the child’s progress than it is to see the veteran’s. I do love celebrating with someone who learns to float or blow bubbles underwater for the first time 🙂

Anyway, the point of all of that is that the restaurant world is about as far removed from the institutional church as one can get in a legal vocation (barring UFC-type fighting, which has sadly become an attraction that many evangelical churches are embracing in an attempt to draw in more members … to this I can only say “booooo!!!”). I’m quickly making friends with my co-workers, few, if any of whom know Jesus (can I make that kind of statement?), and can see myself having relationships like the ones I had in my fraternity at Tech. I know that I love talking to people about Jesus, but particularly people who admit to having no idea who the man really was/is. And for the first time since graduating, I’ve found myself surrounded by these wonderful people again. I can’t help but be excited to grow in relationship with them to the point that we can talk about how loved they are by their Creator.

I don’t know what any of this really means for my future. I do know that it has been a struggle for me to keep my focus on walking with Jesus since it is no longer my job, but that is without question my greatest desire, and I believe that God will honor that and continue to show me opportunities to serve and grow into the person I was created to be … whoever that may be.

May I be available to your every invitation and call, Lord.

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~ by Will Norman on February 13, 2010.

2 Responses to “Two Weeks Removed/In …”

  1. Totally identify with this. For me, this journey has lasted about 15 years (it takes some of us a while to “get it”). These humble, servant positions (I’ve been a telemarketer, security guard, city bus driver, commission salesman) provide invaluable lessons – the most important of which I think is empathy.

    Good luck, bro.

  2. Why did you end up deciding to leave? Interestingly enough, my buddy in Seattle had a friend in Jacksonville that interviewed for your job last weekend.

    You have a good heart Will and I do believe you have a gift for ministry. You have a deep compassion for others which is very admirable.

    All this to say, don’t give up on the institutional church. I’ve had my frustrations with various churches and politics within them. However, I am still very convinced in the importance of the institutional church. I get frustrated with Christians who don’t want to be associated with the word “Christian” or with an institutional church because of the connotations there. If we believe there are problems with these connotations, we must work to redeem and transform them instead of avoiding them. From what I know of you, I think that you do believe this.

    If Columbia doesn’t work out for you, I have a few contacts in College ministries that you might find useful.

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