Last night I informed the members of Branch Life Church of my resignation and today I will begin a full-time job outside of vocational ministry for the first time since Bethany and I left our home to begin studying at Covenant Theological Seminary.
Before I really get started, I ask you – please do not jump to any conclusions.
No one has asked me to resign. This is not due to any ethical or moral issue. I have not lost my faith. This is not a result of any dissatisfaction or loss of love between Branch Life Church and myself.
This has been brewing for almost a year. Two main factors have been the catalysts. And while there are lots of little things here and there contributing, it is entirely truthful to boil this down to emotional and financial health. We need both and my resignation is a move toward them.
I have now been on staff at three churches where the lead pastor has left shortly after my arrival. In only one of these was I even remotely involved. Regardless, they all taken their toll on Bethany and I emotionally. Maybe they shouldn’t. But such thinking is neither here nor there because it has taken a toll mercilessly and even though we look for the wherewithal to pay it continually, we just cannot afford it. I am sure I own some of the weight we have labored under. The result is I do not want to be a pastor. And for this reason I do not need to be a pastor.
For some of you, this is unfathomable. Part of your lack of being able to understand comes from you just not knowing everything. There are variables and arcs of the story few know. I assume much will be made known and then you will understand more. I sure hope this happens. For others, you think the height of spirituality is being a vocational pastor. I will not be able to ease your mind. So I won’t try. To you, it is the highest sign of spirituality for a banker to become a vocational pastor. But it is the mark of worldliness for a pastor to become a banker. Maybe I’ll argue with you later.
Our finances are wrecked. There is no other way to put it. In coming onto staff at Branch Life Church, we knew our savings account would take a hit. It has. The moments when we have been able to live paycheck to paycheck have been few and far between. Some of you will understand — the euphoric feeling when you are able to pay all your bills without dipping into savings is an oasis in a dessert parching the soul. I do not tell you this so you will pity us merely, it’s part of our story.
Not caring about money is the luxury of those who have it. But I have a wife and 3 kids. And so for a number of months I’ve been looking for other employment. (It will take another post to explain what it was like.) Finally I found a job at a bank, thanks to an old friend, who took mercy on me. Starting out, I will not make much more than what I make now. But there is the possibility of more in the near future.
Add to this — it would financially irresponsible for a church of BLC’s size to continue to pay me any amount whatsoever. The writing was on the wall for 2012. No one approached me about it. I saw the writing lit stark like fire scrawled across the night sky about 6 months ago.
So even If I wanted to continue to be a pastor I would have to look elsewhere. But I will not move again. I cannot do that to my family. Heck, I can’t do it to myself. No, we are here for good. Place is far more precious than position for us. I would rather work three jobs in the shadows of Red, Shades and Oak Mountain than relax anywhere else.
I’ll be staying on for a little longer at BLC as a very part-time pastor – just to finish up some responsibilities and help transition.
My faith is intact and alive and kicking. Grace is more precious. Mercy is counted upon more. And no longer is my vocation a fig leaf.
Last, would you pray for me? This is going to be a weird transition. By the time you read this I will have had to get ready very early, put on a tie and go to the orientation for a job in a vocational field which I know so little of. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad. Being a theologically trained banker sounds very interesting to me. But it is going to be all so new and so very different. Pray for my nerves and that I would honor the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and bankers in all of this.
More to come.