Considering a post-clergy career?

It’s spring, so pastors are a) struggling to do and say something fresh for upcoming Easter services, b) being voted upon in the unsettling pastoral vote, c) dreading the annual district reports, and/or d) considering resigning to pursue less stressful work such hostage negotiator.

So, here are some suggestions for a post-clergy career:

First, what other jobs can benefit from your unique gifts and talents?

Your public speaking skills Let’s see, with your repertoire of pastor jokes, there’s “Open Mic Night” at the local Holiday Inn. Perhaps wedding reception D.J. with witty bits of marital advice, auctioneer or infomercial host. And there’s always a need for state and federal chaplains in the houses of the legislature to open each day’s session with non-sectarian, gender neutral, deity non-specific prayers.

Your administrative skills Conducting board meetings makes you imminently qualified for S.W.A.T. team negotiator, ambassador to Iraq, federal arbitrator or professional wrestling manager. And all those forms you fill out at the end of each church year (see May/June 2006 column) prepare you for an exciting career as Administrative Assistant to the Under Secretary of Paperwork Reduction Czar at the United States General Accounting Office. I would suggest working for the Federal Emergency Management Administration or Homeland Security, but apparently not having administrative skills is a prerequisite those jobs.

Your people skills Shaking in and shaking out parishioners at the church door is the perfect resume for Wal-Mart greeter, costumed character at an amusement park, or host at the International House of Pancakes.

Your counseling skills The fast-growing field for TV therapists (Dr. Phil, Dr. Ablo) and peer counselors (Montel, Maury, Jerry, and the big O) is perfect for the pastor who is tired of hearing about mundane marriage issues and would like to move on to multiple personality serial killers with satanic ritual abuse or alien abductions in their past while dramatically revealing DNA paternity test results.

Your compassionate skills If you love people, you needn’t apply at the Infernal Revenue Service, a collection bureau or used car lot. And, unfortunately, providing love on a professional basis is illegal in 49 states.

Your acting skills Appearing to be pleased with your $10 gift certificate to Pizza Hut for the church’s Christmas gift to you and your family or convincing Mrs. Magilicutti that her broccoli and liver casserole is the best thing you’ve ever eaten at a carry-in dinner, puts you well ahead of Brad, Angelina, Tom or Julia in acting skills. And acting grateful that, while you were on vacation, the church trustees re-painted the entire interior of the parsonage flat off-white qualifies you for an Oscar!

Second, can you find satisfaction in any other field?

One of the signs that you’re called to the ministry, other than enjoying a diet of ramen noodles, driving a ten-year-old car, being wakened in the middle of the night for parishioners’ emergencies, shoveling the church’s sidewalks at 6 a.m. Sunday mornings, having your spouse and children live in a congregational version of the “Big Brother House,” agonizing over preparing a biblically-based, soul-stirring, thought-provoking message each and every week, and—in general—not being treated as the trained professional that you are is that—and this is the predicament—you can’t see yourself doing anything else!

It’s a part of what I’ve described is the “called or crazy” motivation for going into ministry. I can look through the classified job listings or go on, and nothing really intrigues me: over-the-road trucker, psychiatric nurse, under-water welder, investment banker, rodeo clown, etc. Even the huge salaries of corporate executives are more offensive than inviting.

And so I console myself that God has uniquely designed and equipped me to be a minister—and apparently nothing else! In fact, I can’t help myself:

      “. . . when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! (1 Corinthians 9:16).

And it sure beats wearing a Yogi Bear costume at the local “Jellystone” campground!

Jim has worked—in alphabetical order—as an actor, college professor, construction worker, door-to-door salesman, factory worker putting raisins in Kellogg’s Raisin Bran, graphic designer, hairstylist, magician, truck driver and unicycle dare devil, but hasn’t found any of those as satisfying as being an ordained writer and speaker.

Copyright © 2007 James N. Watkins

Related posts for pastors
“The church is a whore”
Do you really want a “biblical” church?
“Cyber church” has bats in belfry
It is a wonderful life
The Watkins New World Church Dictionary
Dealing with church conflict
Top ten signs your church may be prejudiced
Finding still water in the storm: The Book of Joe
A case for women in ministry
Top ten list: When you’re voted out
Wounded shepherd: When is it time to leave the flock?

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