When a job isn’t a job

If you’ve been reading along here the last couple of weeks, you know that Jenni left her position at Sunrise (the timing was right, I still maintain that), and tried for a job at a Lutheran church not far from the Lathropworld compound and bunker complex.  She learned right before the weekend that she didn’t get that job.

OBLIGATORY DISCLAIMER: I’m an idiot. I’m not nearly as smart or quick to come up with thoughts or answers as you might think, which is why I write these things and don’t commit them to video or something equally stupid orn instantaneous. All this is to say that the revelations I’m about to put here are probably old news to Jenni, and probably passed through her much more adept brain long before they had even assembled themselves as complete thoughts in mine.

She’s understandably bummed, as anyone would be when you didn’t get a job you thought was a perfect fit for you. The position and the church seemed great for her. The location was perfect. The size and the fact that it was an ELCA congregation was even better. It looked like it was meant to be…As much of this adventure have been.

But it finally struck me late last night that this isn’t just an ordinary job. Jobs in the church, or at least jobs in leadership or ministry or faith formation are referred to as “calls,” as in “you’re called to be [pastor, children/youth leader, etc.] at this church.” And the implication is that there’s a bigger force at work here.

I am not called to be a computer tech. I have not been called to impart my geeky knowledge on the rest of the world. Or at least, if I had, I’d be working a much better, higher-paying job with considerably fewer hours required to work. What I devote myself to on a daily basis is a job, and it barely even qualifies as a career, inasmuch as I think it’s only a career because I don’t really want to move to another line of work right now.

But Jenni had a “call” and through this whole time of having her considering going to school and actually going to school, it honestly felt like it was a call–that something larger than us–was pulling strings and making things fall into place.

So it’s got to be a lousy feeling to feel that call but not get the job that felt right. I can’t imagine that. I mean, it’s one thing to not get a job and just feel bad because you were hoping to get it, but this…

Talk about judgement day.

Here’s my only real problem with this whole line of work: sure, you’re doing “God’s work” and trying to help spread the word and all of that good stuff, but in the end, the church itself–the actual corporeal body that has been formed to do the work–is staffed and run by people: fallible, woefully inadequate, mistake-prone people. And for all we know, couldn’t a call or that nudge from the larger force be misinterpreted or missed by some ill-equipped person who’s conducting interviews and reviewing resumes?

I have no idea how to argue against her feelings or support Jenni after this for now. Or I didn’t until that last revelation up there: this whole thing sucks. It’s difficult, and probably more difficult than it needs to be. But it’s also probably difficult for a reason. And maybe there is a grander plan here for her, but maybe still we just need to pay attention for the right sign, or need to wait for others who still haven’t seen the right sign for them.

In the end, we’re all just people. With feelings, wants, and needs, in spite of our call or lack thereof.

I love you, Jenni. You’ll find the right position. It just might take some more time. You’re still very good at what you’ve been called do.

See you tomorrow.

One Reply to “When a job isn’t a job”

  1. Thank you. This has hit hard.

    It sounds, though, like I need to talk more about vocation at home. See, us Lutherans believe that we were given a vocation by God. Well, probably many vocations. You, my dear, have the vocation of father, husband, son and employee. Yes, darling, you may have been called to computer work. According to one of my many books, “Vocation is all about loving the neighbor and serving in God’s name” (Crazy Talk).

    We are called to different things. Working in the church is a more obvious “call” to do God’s work, but it is not the only way God calls us in the world. I love you.

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