A question that is often asked in career discussions is, “are you willing to pay the price?” It is common to think that the price is limited to the effort to attain a position. That you can simply work hard to attain a position, then you can sit back and enjoy the rewards. In reality the price you pay to attain a position is just a down payment. There is also a price to pay to stay in a position that is usually greater than the price you paid to attain the position.
Vocationally speaking I have aspired to four different callings in my life: Minister of Recreation, Executive Pastor, Church Coach and Consultant, and Christian Artist. By God’s grace I have witnessed all four of those dreams come to fruition. But each demanded a price. A price to get there and a price to stay there. And, in each case, the cost to stay there exceeded the cost to get there.
The Price To Be A Recreation Minister
At age 18 I sensed a calling to a very specific ministry, that of church recreation. I spent the next six years preparing myself for that calling. Among other things, I served as an Activities Ministry college intern in my home church, started a church recreation library, was mentored by seasoned Recreation Ministers, attended seminary, participated in State and Nationally Sponsored Rec Labs and workshops, and during summers worked for the Church Recreation Department of the Baptist Sunday School Board at Glorieta and Ridgecrest Baptist Conference Centers. When I received my first job offer out of seminary there was a great sense of accomplishment and relief as my years of preparation had finally paid off. As hard as I had worked to get this position I soon realized that it took even harder work to stay and be successful in the position. I was struck by the realities that ministry was a 24/7 enterprise and that seminary had not nearly prepared me for all my responsibilities and challenges. Even with all of my preparation there was so much that I still needed to learn. Further, I had to recruit dozens of volunteers, staff and manage a large recreation facility 100 hours a week, and provide a continuous flow of creative recreation programs for all ages. Soon, any sense that I had achieved my goal and could relax a bit went right out the window.
The Price To Be An Executive Pastor
After about 15 years as a Minister of Recreation I began to sense that God was calling me to a relatively new position in church life, that of Executive Pastor. So, as before I plunged into preparing myself for this possibility. Again I sought out a mentor, read everything I could get my hands on that broadened my understanding of church, ministry, and staff leadership, and attended conferences and conventions, and workshops that added to my skill set. When this preparation paid off in my first position as an Executive Pastor I soon learned exactly how little I did know about church leadership in general and specifically the position of Executive Pastor. The learning curve was steeper and the demands, pressure, and responsibilities of the position required a greater commitment of time and investment in continued personal development than I had ever experienced. I found truth in the adage that every achievement is in and of itself a form of enslavement, enslavement to the demands and expectations of others.
The Price To Be A Coach And Consultant
After 22 years of serving as an Executive Pastor I sensed that it was time to share more broadly of what I had learned in almost 40 years of ministry. So, I began to diligently prepare myself for my next chapter of ministry, that of a minister coach and church consultant. I became certified as a coach, met with several church consultants to pick their brains, networked heavily, developed branding and launched a website and blog. Once again, the price I paid to prepare myself to be a successful coach and consultant paled in comparison to the price I paid to stay a successful coach and consultant. I was on the road two weeks of every month, drove countless miles, accrued a ton of air miles, and ate a lot of really bad food. There was also a website to maintain, resources to develop, blogs and eBooks to be written, and phone calls, podcasts, classes and seminars to prepare for. And, there was the frustration of clients not following my advice that I did not anticipate. My experience gave me fresh perspective on the old saying “be careful what you wish for, because you may get it.” It is a good principle to keep in mind when doing any career planning.
The Price To Be A Christian Artist
Knowing that coaching and consulting ministry has a limited shelf life, I wanted to prepare myself for a long held dream, that of becoming a successful Christian visual artist. So, I took art classes, spent several days with a noted book artist, worked for years to perfect my craft, and developed promotional material and an art website. Once I made the commitment to seriously pursue my art career I learned that even more was required. There were art shows and festivals to prepare for and attend, call for art applications to complete, a website to be maintained, and the marketing of my art to potential customers and galleries. I thought that if I could ever obtain substantial gallery representation of my art then I would have “finally arrived.” Now that my art is successfully showing in several galleries I am under the gun to spend time daily in my studio creating new work. Further, I must maintain relationships with gallery owners, pack and ship my art, and keep my website updated with sales and new works. Success has created a whole new set of time demands.
So, What’s The Point?
I’ve been blessed to have loved each of my vocational ministry callings. If I had known then what I know now I would still pursue each calling. And, I have no way of knowing if my vocation as a Christian Artist will be my last one. One thing I do know though is to expect that any new vocation will require more to stay there than to get there. Getting there will require that I pay the price of new behaviors, attitudes, disciplines and commitments, but staying there will demand an even greater price, and most likely in unanticipated and unexpected ways.
Posted on August 31, 2021