People go to seminary to become pastors. And most pastors have gone to seminary.
Plot twist: I went to seminary and I am not a pastor.
To increase the paradox some, I also went to bible college. Both my undergraduate and graduate degrees came from schools whose primary purpose are to prepare students for ministry. Certainly sounds like I built a ministry resume. Two degrees in ministry, but not a job in ministry. Some of you may be wondering if this is a “someone please hire me” plea. It’s not. I’ve played that fiddle before.
This is a confession/counseling session for me. A coming to terms with a different sort of life.
14 months ago I walked across a stage, shook the hand of our school president, and took a few steps before taking a nosedive. Not literally, otherwise I would link to the YouTube clip. But over the coming weeks and months I felt my life step, step, stumble, wobble, trip, and face plant. All while maintaining composure to the outside.
Everybody’s expectation, but especially mine, is that I should go into some sort of ministry – probably as a pastor. Sure, I could become a high school Bible teacher or para-church ministry leader but I needed to do – ‘ought’ to do – something ‘in ministry’. In retrospect I realize that these were my expectations just as much or more than anyone else. But its often so hard to tell the difference. I thought I should be a pastor.
It took me many months to understand that ministry was not the career I should be in at this time. Then it took several more months for me to accept that fact. Every graduate or near-graduate hates the question, but I hated it more – “What are you going to do now?” When people from Church, family or seminary asked that question they are really asking “When are you going to get off your duff and get into full-time ministry?” At least thats what I heard.
So I tried to meet those expectations. To walk the path that I had so clearly prepared myself for and that everyone expected of me. I wanted an answer to the dreaded post-graduation question.
Failed/false expectations lead to guilt. And guilt is a sticky substance that doesn’t wash off your fingers easy.
After a dozen or so applications, several interviews (and follow up interviews), I found a stack of rejection letters from job applications. Followed by many frustrating journal entries. Yet, through a handful of coffee and lunch talks with a wise mentor, I think I am finally getting somewhere. Not willing to admit that I have completely recovered from my face plant, but I am not smelling carpet anymore.
I am finding joy, and ‘ok-ness’ with not actively pursing a ministry job. In fact, I kinda like what I am doing now. Once I lifted my head up from the dusty seminary books and took off a heavy backpack of expectations I realized that this world has a lot to offer.
If you choose to hang around this website you will slowly learn more about my story. I will try to be honest with you, since faking it is no fun for anyone. A handful of you will benefit from my story, but I mostly write as a personal detox.
Not everyone who went to seminary is a pastor. And not everyone who wanders is lost.
The goal is to find hope beyond external expectations. To find joy whether one is sweeping streets or prepping sermons.
So welcome to all who wander, welcome to all who wonders. Welcome to life beyond seminary.