1. If you write a book about how your work is significant in the eyes of God, even when you hate it and it seems small and miserable, there is a good chance you will have to go through that for about six years, if you have not already done so. God will be faithful, though. And the gospel will taste sweeter at the journey’s end.
2. On Monday I will start working with people that care about poetry.
3. Someone should do some serious writing about “vocational shame.” I talked about it in Sunday School one week for about 10 minutes and I still hear from men who struggle with this. It is real and deadly. There is gospel hope but it’s a hard road to walk. In the main, it is hard because most men have trouble admitting it.
4. If anyone tells you that working in a bank is a lot like ministry, go directly to target.com/careers.
5. There is wisdom in knowing that even in a business you have struggled to respect, there are good people working there. And there are some like my best friend, Sean, who are living out the kindness of the gospel with the people they oversee.
6. Yesterday I was listening to all these songs which had been anchors for me along the way and when I got to “Every Breaking Wave” and I heard “Drowning is no sin” I had to stop what I was doing and excuse myself. Some of you will understand.
7. Almost my whole time at the bank, I kept a copy of Wendell Berry’s Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front pinned up just to the right of my right-most monitor (I had three monitors). As I clocked out yesterday, I unpinned it and left it lying on my keyboard in hopes it would be read. Not a lot of hope, though…
8. I’ve been thinking about Shawshank Redemption a lot over the past couple of weeks. It’s been maybe 20 years since I have seen that film but I saw a clip not long ago that reminded me of so many scenes from the movie. Working for the Bank is nothing like prison. Know that. But metaphors are only meaningful if what is not similar can converge at a point and then help us see something true. Plus, the fact that Andy was a banker is not lost on me.
9. One of the great struggles has been knowing that other people struggle far more than I do. Either because of tragedy or poverty or disease. I know this to be true. But I also had to recognize there is something intrinsic to the way we were created regarding the vocations we are engaged in. It is never just “work.” Our whole souls are involved. And when the only consolation is that you can pay your bills (no small thing) the soul shrivels. I am glad we were able to pay our bills. But that was never enough. Some may think this is a weakness. But I think it is a strength developed over time as I understood more and more what it meant to “work” as one created in the image of God.
10. You need to know my wife is as excited about my new job as I am. This is no exaggeration. She had to keep reminding herself it was me quitting and not her, because she had taken on all the joy. No wonder since she has had to shoulder a lot of the darkness and anxiety I’ve been through. She never quit holding my hand, though. Not even once.
Really curious what you’ll be doing?
#3 – excuse my ignorance…what is vacational shame? I may have some idea, but would like your definition
#8 – Shawshank Redemption: since it’s one of my husband’s top 5 movies, I watch it all the time….no exaggeration. If it’s on TV, he’s watching it. Fabulous on so many levels.
So I finally ordered and read God of the Mundane last week–again, it’s my thoughts over the years that someone else out into words…THANK YOU. Passing it on (buying more) for the women I mentor.
Along with that, I read Liturgy of the Ordinary by Warren, and both were good companions and complimentary to each other. Highly recommend it.
Side note: my beach reading was Lucifer’s Hammer…haven’t read it since college (yep, a LONG time ago)– this is my summer of re-reading my favorites.
Praying for you and your family and your new direction!
I’ll be teaching at Westminster Classical School and working part time at OMPC working with young parents that are in my SS class.
Okay, briefly on vocational shame – When I talked about it in SS, I hit on two things primarily. First, the feeling of failure and not being where you want to be. Whether that is just another job or to not be failing in the job you are doing. But the second part is key. What if everyone around you is either succeeding or at least acting like they are and are happy? For me it was working with people half my age who were doing so well and I could not get the hang of it. I have this class of about 100 plus millennials in one of the wealthiest areas of the metro area. So I had a number of people, men especially. who heard that and said, “me too.”
Oh, ok, thanks for the clarification. Agree with the other poster…it is a great term.
Glad to see you teaching at WCS, and I envy those young parents that you’ll be working with at OMPC. Wish I’d had someone like you around when I raising kids. Thankfully, God got me through those years with His wisdom and not mine or somebody else’s who thought they had all the answers–couldn’t stomach any of that.
I’ve been following your journey for quite some time now. I’m glad to see you moving into a vocation that you will love.
Vocational Shame – what a great term for the malaise that seems to hit so many mid-life.
I am so glad for your new job; children will benefit from your wise perspective on life and literature. Your spirit will flourish in a community of like-minded teacher/learners.
Regarding vocational shame. Would you possibly consider that the subject for your next book? As you discovered in one Sunday school session, this may affect more of us than many could imagine, and in different ways. I retired from a career I thought I was going to love, and in fact told people that I did love, and yet have as yet been unable to reflect back on those years with anything but tears. Shame is probably as close a word as I can find to describe my feelings, shame a little ahead of regret. Far down the list, almost too far down to find, is joy.
Please consider this. Or maybe it’s time I too need to reread God of the Mundane.
I have followed you for years. Enjoyed your writing. Funny how your your new job is making so many of us consider where we are at. I have identified with so much of what you have written over the years…even though I am female and older than you. That is just part of being human together I guess. Enjoy your joy!
Really great thoughts here Matt. I am really encouraged that you took that next step in your journey and will be doing something more in line with what you love most!
Matt – as always thank you SO much. Too few of us will even acknowledge the idea of vocational shame and it is so real. When I left pastoring to serve in a different ministry, there was such profound fear/sense of failing because I was no longer “a pastor”, even though I clearly knew I was headed where God was leading. That has been a year and I am only k ow beginning to grasp that struggle. Your words both on the blog and personally when we messaged each other have been such a guiding light. I am so happy for your transition and your willingness to share your journey with us. – Tom