I’m learning something in life, over and over again. I’m learning that a lot of the best things happen when you’re not looking for them. Maybe you’ve heard this from people before. Maybe it was in the context of a job, a home, or a relationship. It’s a classic: they were seeking hard, and missing, and failing, and trying harder, and missing bigger, and the whole time the best thing was right under their nose. Common demoninator in these situations? Stop looking.
This is the kind of situation that played out when I made a major job change a few months ago to start my role at Vibrant Faith. I got a message from Vibrant Faith’s Interim Executive Director asking if we could chat about helping with the new website. (I’ve been building websites and coaching people on digital strategy on the side for a couple of years.) I happily scheduled a time to chat with her. At that time I’d been working for a large nonprofit financial services organization, in many ways the opposite of this small, nimble nonprofit ministry. I scheduled the call during lunch and hopped into a conference room. Here’s how the conversation began:
Nancy: “Hey Jared, thanks for making time to chat.”
Me: “You’re welcome. I’m excited to see how I can help. I know things are shifting quite a bit at Vibrant Faith.”
Nancy: “Are you at a place you can talk? Is the door closed?”
Me: “Uh, give me a second…(closes door)… Alright, I’m all set.”
Nancy: “How much do you like your job…”
That wasn’t quite what I was expecting. Vibrant Faith wasn’t just looking for website help, but for someone to lead a new area focusing on digital faith formation.
Here’s the reality: we’re all on a new frontier for ministry. Things are not like they used to be, yet the things that matter most still matter:
‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ – Luke 10.27
Our relationship with God and our relationships with each other are still what matter most, but in our technologically connected reality in 2015, those connections happen in new spaces, digital spaces. Over the next year at Vibrant Faith, we’re exploring what it means to move beyond digital strategy for the sake of marketing our churches to a digital place in which we’re so engaged in community that faith forming relationships and experiences aren’t bound by walls and worship times.
I’m five months in to this thing I wasn’t looking for, and I love it. So as I learn this over and over again, here are a few ideas I’m going to seek to employ for the rest of my life. Maybe they hit home for your current situation as a leader in ministry.
1. Stop looking
This is hard, especially if you aren’t satisfied with your current state: the job, the relationship, the house, whatever it is. Let me make sure to clarify, I am not saying don’t open your eyes to opportunities, I am saying take a break from the dissatisfaction, stress, and chaos. Settle in and try to embrace confidence in the plans God promised to have for you, even if they’re blurry at best.
2. Always be looking
That sounds contradictory, doesn’t it? One of my most influential mentors worked as an Executive Director at one nonprofit camp for almost 20 years before he switched jobs. He told me as he was getting ready to begin his new role that throughout his twenty years at the camp, he had interviewed at different places twice a year. If you are open to the idea that God has something amazing ahead, one of two things will happen at an interview. You’ll either go and it will be incredible. Or, you’ll have affirmation that you are right where you belong, at least for the moment.
3. Ask others to look
Help your tribe foster an attitude of keeping an eye out for opportunities that might be great for you, and most definitely return the favor. Ask them to keep one eye on you personally and professionally, and the other on the world around you, seeking out places where your puzzle piece fits perfectly.