Or you might have heard it this way: God helps those who help themselves.
I get a little skived out by that second one, because it sounds more selfish than the first one. But maybe that’s just my own awareness of how Christians have used their religious convictions as a weapons and twisted theology to take advantage of others. Welcome to the human race! But that’s a different post.
The point is this: I can’t just sit around on my ever widening behind and expect a dream call to plop in to my lap. (Although… I feel like I have gotten many jobs just that way.) I have to actually DO something. Many somethings, it turns out.
Nowadays, you still need to search for jobs-a little differently than the Want Ads in the newspaper but essentially the same. You still need to write cover letters and resumes. You still need to follow up interviews with thank you notes and phone calls. You still need to talk to all your friends and family about what you’re looking for (although now we’ll call them Your Network.)
But nowadays a job seeker also has to have something called a Brand Statement. This is apparently something similar to, but different than the 30-second “elevator speech” you used to need. Now in addition to being succinct about what kind of opportunity you’re looking for, you have to cram in why you are the best for that job!
And then you have to market your brand! Facebook, Twitter, LinkdIn, blogs, TheLadders (if that’s the way you roll) all have to be aligned to communicate your brand to the widest possible audience. Even business cards should align!
If you thought looking for a job was like online dating, now it starts to feel like you are commodity that needs to be sold. The message is that people will only hire you if they’re hoodwinked by your smooth salesmanship and branding. Nice. But don’t worry if you don’t have a marketing degree and don’t feel qualified to brand something – only your livelihood depends on it!!!! (sarcasm intended.)
If you’re me, then we add in to the mix that I’m wanting to make what looks to the outside world like a career change. I have been trying to move to ONE ministry job that encompasses all that I do. But to brand what I want to do in ministry is bifurcated unless I raise the branding to a level that begins to be meaningless.
I want a call, preferably in a parish setting, that allows me to do worship planning and direct choirs along with “general” ministry of word and service (so…visitation, education-youth and adults, social ministry, advocacy.) Those kinds of jobs don’t exist configured like that. They just don’t.
If I have to be bi-vocational my preference would be to have the ministry job be the close-to-FT job and fill in PT with “corporate” training contracting/consulting. Of course the world doesn’t really work that way. And the church is in the world. Lest you think it isn’t, let me share this story to prove my point:
Right now churches that are looking for musicians are expecting to pay them well below the poverty line. The most recent music posting in the cities is for a Music Director to:
- direct two choirs
- play for all the services (presumably prelude, postlude, hymns and either direct or play an offertory)
- plan worship
- play for Sunday School music weekly and accompany the Christmas Pageant
- coordinate “special music events” like Valentine’s Cabaret and concerts
- Plan for special music when the choir isn’t singing
They think this can be done in 10-15 hours a week (less than 2 full work days) and want to pay $1000 a month.
For the record, that is at least a 24-32 hour a week position when you include preparation/practice/study time for the playing and directing. Apparently we’re moving in to a time when churches realize that pastors work more than an hour a week on Sundays and need time to prepare that 12-20 minute sermon, but still think the musician can just poop all this out. Never mind the conference I was at yesterday that promotes the idea that every single week of worship have active and interdisciplinary multi-sensory elements to it.
Also for the record, I did not apply. It’s not worth even having the conversation with people like this. The best I would hope for would be to spend any interview time explaining to them why this posting is insulting to any trained and experienced musician, why it is abusive to one who is not and how it doesn’t help them by promoting the “organ grinder” or “DJ” mentality over and against a ministry position.
I guess the good news is that that is not the only job I’m fit for. Nor is it the only job out there. Nor is “getting a job” the only way to go. And by that I mean “getting one job.” There’s something out there now called a “portfolio career.” Turns out I’m the poster child for it. Who knew? What is means is that you kluge together an income by contracting, consulting and lots of little bits and drabs, following your muse or your bliss or whatever. The best way to do it is to have some sort of “regular” gig that at least gets you close to making budget but that doesn’t take all your time leaving you available to both take the jobs that are interesting and decline the jobs that are not. (wouldn’t that be nice?)
There is a certain amount of appeal to that, but I have to admit that my inner control freak begins to wake up when I consider it very seriously for very long. Those of you that have been around the circuit here on This Journey know that it wasn’t all that long ago that I was doing this kluge together thing – back in 2006 while I was doing Interim Music Director and CPE. And I was whining a good deal of time here about wanting “a bigger hog.” Maybe living simply is a little easier with only one kid at home. But since the other one is at college, I rather doubt it. The unpredictability of it seems really risky right now. And also the paperwork involved makes me a little nauseous right now, too.
On the other hand the misery of drinking the corporate kool-aid cannot be denied. And that is really not a direction in which I want to go. Unfortunately, that is the direction that the little contract jobs are coming from right now. $1k here and there for massaging a little content isn’t that hard to deal with. But to be wrapped up in a more serious way in a longer term project – one where I’m actually consulting and not just a hired pen – that’s…flirting with the enemy.
And going the portfolio route requires me to take action that moves me directly away from what I have been praying for for almost 10 years: just ONE job where I could sort of “do it all.” Lead music, lead ministries, lead advocates, train leaders, etc., etc. ONE job where I could set boundaries and work right up to them.
But now I’ve got this crazy transition consultant telling me I should have a portfolio career – basically saying “Hey! Two directions is nothing! Why don’t you split yourself three or four or five ways!”
So does that mean anything about the power of prayer, what it means for prayers to be answered?
And here’s another good one: FOR ME taking a corporate job feels like I’m selling out. I am NOT saying that everyone who works in a corporate setting is selling out. Many, many, many people are called to use their skills and talents in the public/corporate sphere. I’m saying that FOR ME taking a corporate job feels like I’m saying I don’t trust that everything will work out if I follow my bliss/dream/call. It feels like I’m trying to control the situation and so FOR ME this is soul killing. (please please please – in this area especially we all need to live into our own authentic life – become the person you were meant to be and use your talents/gifts/interests the way YOU are called. Not the way I’m called. Am I being clear on this?)
The long and the (not so) short of it is this: (I think): Somehow I have been getting in my own way of making this cut over into FT ministry. The choices I’m making, the connections I’m making or not making are making subtle adjustments to the flow of my life. I don’t believe that God is my concierge or personal wish-granter. I do believe that God feels my pain in this and truly wants me to be whole and happy. (I believe God wants that for everybody… including you.)
I’m struggling to see and understand how I am getting in the way of making this cut over. I’m wrapped around the axle about the fact that the call I want is unique and beyond the imagination of the synods and the congregational call/hiring committees.
I feel I’m in danger of succumbing to bitterness, playing the victim and grinding to a halt in despair and hopelessness. I don’t much like myself or my life when I’m in that place. So I want to keep moving to stay out of that place if I can.
Keep moving and keep praying.