Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Beautiful Wilderness of Pastoral Unemployment

3 ways that I have been enriched through the last months of (unemployed) job search:

  1. Precious time with my family - Since I have not been working at a church since the end of August, every day since has been filled with the opportunity to relish the extra time with my four girls.
    I have been able to form a special bond with Preslie during the first months of her life, and that is something you can't put a price tag on.
    Quinn often grabs my hand and says "Daddy, dance with me!" And guess what - I do.
    In addition, I have had several opportunities to be a part of Avery's first experience in school - from driving her there and participating in field trips, to speaking to her class. This also is a precious thing that I thank God for.
    For crying out loud - my wife and I were playing rock band yesterday afternoon and enjoying every minute of it! How often do you get to do that on a weekday?

  2. Opportunity to refine my ministry philosophy - The pastoral job search process forces you to answer tough questions like "what are the most important aspects of youth ministry?", and "what would our church's youth ministry look like under you?". All of this has refreshed my perspective on what ministry is about, how God wants it to be carried out, and what part I can play in that.

  3. Deeper understanding and appreciation for various denominations - Each time I considered a position at a church, I would research the church's particular denomination thoroughly. I discovered many things I did not know before, and this helped me weed out certain denominations and consider others I never would have before.
    This is one thing I never really experienced in my fundamentalist upbringing - a charitable exploration of various denominations. Yes, there are reasons we have these various denominations, and No, we should not just all join hands, sing "Kumbaya" and form one ecumenical church. But we would do well to learn the heritage of our brothers and sisters in Christ, and consider the good that has come through each particular community of evangelicalism.

I pray that my time in the wilderness of pastoral unemployment is nearing an end.
Yet, I am very grateful for how God has been growing me and refining me. I am so glad that His ways are not my ways, and He has everything figured out.


  1. Mark I am sure you are enjoying your time but are also concerned for finances, etc. but just to let you know I have been praying for you and that God will lead you to a vibrant ministry. The other day I heard a youth leader say that his passion was to develope Godly children and not good children. That personal family commitment has worked its way into his philosophy of teen ministry. If that is the goal then truly it may take on an appearance that our preconceived fundamentalist views finds unacceptable, but what God is teaching me is that I cannot put God nor his Holy Spirit in a box nor in a certain denomination. The kingdom is much larger than I use to envision it as. Once I removed the blinders and asked God to truly reveal himself to me. God had done that by revealing himself in so many different believers. Basically don't be afraid of where God may lead you and who he may lead you to partner with. Your in my prayers. John

  2. It's encouraging on a humanistic level that you're finding the "silver lining" of being unemployed. But it's inspiring to be reminded, once again, that God makes no mistakes and is in complete control of our lives! The crap is scared out of me everytime I think of the possible ways God is going to teach me to just trust Him, but it's comforting to know that He's got us in His hand!

    Thanks for sharing!!

  3. I'm encouraged to hear you like Rock Band. :] But, seriously, I think it's neat how much you've been learning from the experience. I really like the five points of youth ministry that you outlined, and I think they fit well with our philosophy.

    It was great to meet you and your family this past weekend at the coffeehouse. I'm glad you got to see the broad spectrum of our students' personalities so you can consider all of that as you are reflecting on where God is sending you.

  4. Hi I just discovered your blog via a link on Living Journey's blog re the Emergent Church...will be reading you, very interesting blog.
    Blessings to you and your family in Jesus!

  5. My husband and I too have been without work since August.
    Living by faith......isn't it a wonderful life?
    Well, it has been for us.
    I praise the Lord that we have his word and his promises that we can trust in.
    He promises he will take care of his children.

  6. Looks like your wandering is over . . . :-D Welcome to Ebenezer.

  7. I really related to the article. I found myself in a very similar "wilderness". I especially liked your second point - but in my case I re-evaluated my entire ministry and decided to write a book ministering to people who were unemployed. True to 2 Corinithians 1 I wanted to share the comfort I had been comforted with... I wrote "Unemployed: Life in the Wilderness - A Practical Guide for Living with Unemployment"... not about how to get a job, but about how to BE unemployed and learn how to handle what God was putting you through. Hope all is well with your ministry there and God bless.

  8. Wow. That sounds like a great book that God could really use. Where could one buy one? I have a friend going through that season right now, and he has been for quite a long time now.