Two months ago I left my job in Youth Ministry. All of my adult life I have worked in ministry. I am part of a very small group of people that will ever be able to say that. A ministry job is unique in many ways. There is the typical workload, worries and “gotta get it done” activities that all jobs have. However, there is this deep human element that quite literally touches the soul. There is a level of intimacy that is built with people that goes so much deeper and farther. I really loved it.
So why did I leave you ask? Two reasons: 1) God said so. 2) I hit a financial ceiling.
As I referenced in my last post we’ve been doing lots of discerning in our household. The jobbie job discernment started about two years ago. Ministry was going great! My assistant had completed a full year and wanted to stay (thank God!). She is a go-getter and because of her, we were able to expand our ministry in a new way. All of our programs were doing well, families were happy and students were growing in their faith—all things that a Youth Minister hopes for.
One day I found myself hearing God say, “It’s time to move on.” Now, this wasn’t an audible voice. It was more of an interior thing. I wont go into too much detail here, but being someone who seeks to do Gods will you start to understand how God speaks to you. God definitely speaks to all of us. Unfortunately, many of us don’t pay enough attention to recognize the way He is communicating. I have not been perfect at this, but once I recognized howGod spoke to me it became very easy to recognize whenHe spoke. I’ll write more about this some other time. For the sake of this story, God spoke and in typical biblical fashion, I responded with, “no, Lord! You must be mistaken.”
Everything was going so well. Why would it be, “time to move on”? Again in typical biblical fashion, I ignored the voice of God and continued to do what I thought right. **Note this never ends well. **As the weeks went by I continued to get this sense from God that it was time to move on. Finally, I stopped fighting Him and began a discernment process. Discernment has many elements to it, but for the most part, it’s a consistent process. Here is one of my favorite sites that show you a step-by-step process for discerning.
Once I began discerning it was very clear that God was right—it was time to move on. Part of it was God telling me that I had done all that I could do. This was incredibly humbling. Essentially, I had taken this program as far as I could. I was blessed to see this and accept it. Sure, I could have ignored it and continued in ministry. I am sure there would have been some continued success. However, when God says its over its over. There are so many examples in history of what happens when a person refuses to listen to God. Essentially, God stops blessing that person and their ministry suffer because of it. I love my church and our youth program too much to let that happen. So this is reason #1 for leaving ministry.
Reason #2 was financial. For me ,it has never been about the money. However, when you have a family it is about money. My pastor paid me very well—I know for a fact that I was one of the highest paid Youth Ministers in my region. However, I had hit a financial ceiling. My salary was not going to get any higher beyond a cost of living increase. This was not due to my church being cheap. The reality is that most Catholics don’t tithe (give money to the church). They are the cheap ones. This lack of giving severely limits what a Pastor can do financially. Even though our parish is super amazing and generous there is a certain amount of money available. The other thing to keep in mind is that all professions have a financial ceiling. I hit mine.
As our family continues to grow and new needs arise (not of the vacation home, or yacht kind)we require more money. My wife works part time and we want that to shrink to ¼ time. That means I need to make more money and you can’t do that if you cant go any further financially.
Recognizing that I was called to leave ministry was part one of the discernment. The second part was figuring out what I was called to. That also took some serious discernment. My skill set was uniquely used in ministry. As I began to discover what my skill set translated into in the secular world the title, “Program Manager” kept popping up. So I looked into that and recognized that it synced up with what I did in ministry. Currently, I am not working as a Program Manager but that’s my goal.
I eventually got a job that I never thought I would do—which is the same thing I said about youth ministry. There is lots of room for growth both financially and intellectually. I am really enjoying it and I love the mission that I serve. Switching careers is always a challenge. I am excited to see where the road will take our family, but for now, I want the next couple of months to be a little more predictable and a lot less chaotic.
Daddy needs to chill out a bit.