Wow. What an experience that was. I want to make my own take on Clif’s commentary.
I’ve been at Resurrection for a hair shy of a year and a half (I started just after Easter 2006). Before, I was working for a company that installed voice and data cabling for all kinds of different IT departments. It was on one of our projects that I met Jason Wilson at Indian Creek Community Church, where I got to set up my temporary project office in his space at the church. The ICCC job was a nice relief from the usual work environment, since I got to get paid to do church work (there’s a whole saga that ended up happening with that job, but that’s another story for another time). What’s funny is that Jason and I had a number of conversations about a local roundtable gathering he had on a semi-regular basis for church geeks and geeks in the church (Little did I know what was going to transpire two years later…)
God works in strange and amusing ways, and about 6 months later, I found myself working with Clif and the gang getting my feet wet in IT again (and it was a relief to be doing geeky stuff). While I found that I was really good at data cabling, it was still little more than specialized construction work that was frequently hot, dirty, and underappreciated. By early 2006, I was looking to bail after 3 years on the job. I was burned out, my family was starting to wonder who I was after the long hours I was pulling, and it was taking its toll on me.
I’m currently studying Ortberg’s If you want to walk on water, you need to get out of the boat as part of our Tuesday morning Men’s Fellowship (added bonus: it’s down the hall from my office!) One of the first things we’re asked to look at is the boats in our lives that we need to step out of. While I was fed up with my current job, it was pretty much a sure thing. There was no shortage of work. And along comes this opportunity at Resurrection. More or less out of the blue, the result of some seemingly random and tenuous connections that I’d made. I needed to get out of my boat and start walking on the water. The money Resurrection was offering me was not really much more than I was making as a cable monkey, and we were already running pretty lean on the budget, since my wife was at home with a toddler and an infant. I felt God calling me to take that leap into the water and to trust him, that things would be OK. It was utterly terrifying. I told my wife that we could try it for a few months and if it didn’t work, it was time to look at other options.
Adam mentioned something in his brief Q&A talk that he called “discernment by nausea” which he said has served him very well over the years. When presented with two options, the one that makes you queasy and want to throw up is almost invariably the choice God wants you to make. It certainly was for Peter when Jesus called him out of the boat (and he was probably already contemplating syndicated reruns of dinner by that point). Making the leap to Resurrection was terrifying, and made both of us queasy. Every budget calculation we came up with was about 10% over what we had available. “We could make it if only we could skip the tithing! Doesn’t working for a church count instead?”. Spiritual warfare was afoot, and it was making me ill.
I got out of the boat. We continued to tithe what little income we had. And it worked out. My wife saw my work stress evaporate practically overnight. It’s taken me the last 18 months to get into a groove, when my track record usually finds me looking for the lifeboat so I can jump ship by now. That’s not to say that I didn’t contemplate it – early this year, our financial straits were still tight (although my wife had just gotten a part-time contract gig at Resurrection), and I was looking for options back in the for-profit world. I ended up with a hot lead at a large advertising and search company (starts with a G and ends with an oogle!), and they were interested enough to fly me down to Phoenix for a day of interviews (for a position in Denver, close to my wife’s family).
It was very good for my ego to have such a superstar seriously interested in hiring me. But as the time following the interview went on, I found myself on one hand excited about a potential offer in the works, but on the other, knowing that if I did get an offer, I was actually going to have to make the decision on whether or not to leave. And the more it went, the more I realized that I didn’t want to have to make that decision. At the time, we had a number of cool projects in the works and coming up, and I’d already told them that if an offer was forthcoming, I was going to need a fair bit of lead time to wrap things up before leaving (I haven’t told Clif about this until now because at the time, I didn’t want him to start panicking that he might lose his shiny new server/network admin in the middle of crunch time, and afterwards, it was moot anyway… Guess this just turned into Blogboard Confessional time!)
I spent a lot of time asking God to make the decision and His will for me blindingly clear, because I’m a geek and I Don’t Do Subtle. I needed God to use the clue-by-four on me. While working for “The Big G” would have been incredibly cool on many, many levels, I was tremendously relieved when they told me a few weeks later that they appreciated my time, but that it wasn’t going to be a good fit for their current needs (but to please apply again in the future, so the door wasn’t slammed shut on my nose!)
Looking back, it’s become quite clear that the process was God’s way of telling me “yes, you can hang with the superstars, but I’ve got a team of superstars right here that I need you working for.” The Round Table event that we just concluded drove that home even harder – we’ve got a great bunch of geeks right here in our own church IT community. Sure, we don’t have a semi full of cash like G does, but we do pretty well, and we’re doing it for the Kingdom (no, not yours, JP!) The benefits of working with you guys more than make up for the difference in pay. As long as my family is fed (they are), I’m happy as a clam, right here.
Wow, this ended up being way longer than I expected.
The whole wrangling with tithing that I went through reminds me of this video, which was shown at one of the pre-Institute workshops today (which reminds me of something Watson would have made for RezLife, but it actually comes from the folks at Central Christian Church in Las Vegas):
Thanks for opening yourself up like that man. Ministry is always a blessing, though it is harder for us to prove that sometimes. 😉 I’ve been there.