Last week, I received an email “out of the blue,” inviting me to apply for a position at a local resort that the person described as “full time spiritual direction.” My initial response was, “This is exactly the kind of job I’ve always dreamed of doing!” While that’s true, it took me less than a day of prayerful reflection to realize that I have changed, and “always” no longer applies. In this post, I thought I’d share a bit about what I’ve realized about myself at this point in my work life, and how content I am being right where I am, doing this interesting mix of ministries.
So, what did I realize? First, this is definitely an onsite job, which for me would mean a 45-minute commute, each way, every workday. I’ve become very accustomed to my 40-foot(!) commute from the breakfast table to my office. It is very difficult to imagine I would not resent the “wasted time.” While we could move, I’ve been watching home prices skyrocket in southern Arizona over the past couple of years and can’t imagine going through that hassle—which also says something about other aspects of my discernment around this job, because we’ve moved across the country for work before and have lived in ten different places during our married life!
I also am well aware that I don’t miss the inevitable meetings and office politics that come with a job in any organization, no matter how well-intentioned and healthy it might be. Unlike a lot of small business owners, I’m content handling the business side of things, perhaps because I have some talent and capability in that area, and practical experience from my past administrative work with nonprofits. I’m also fortunate to have good medical coverage through my husband’s retirement, which is not the situation for many independent contractors (and one reason I belong to and support the Freelancers Union).
But I realized that the biggest reason I didn’t want to apply for the job is that I would have to let go of most, if not all, of my current clientele. I could do that if I had to, but “had to” has me envisioning a catastrophic change in circumstances, not a new job opportunity. I realized how content I am with the mix of editing, writing, spiritual guidance, retreat leadership, teaching, and coaching that I’m doing these days. I’ve come to recognize (with the help of friends) how even the business editing that I do involves ministry because the support that I give to my clients extends beyond words to relationships.
It is those relationships that form the backbone of my work. I may work “alone,” but I have developed a community of clients that depend on me. I also depend on them, not just for income, but also for interesting conversations, fascinating reading material to edit, and great laughter as we’ve gotten to know each other better over the years.
I will also admit that this is not the first time in the past few months that I’ve been invited to apply for a fulltime job. The other was as executive director of a retreat center in Massachusetts, near where we used to live. In that case, the pull to do what I’ve always imagined doing was also initially strong (as well as the opportunity to be much closer to children and grandchildren!), but quickly faded in the face of realizing how much time I’d have to spend doing administration and fundraising, plus the astronomical cost of housing in the northeast.
So, I am grateful for these recent opportunities to ponder my current work situation and realize how blessed and content I am. I invite you to ponder the ways and seasons when the Spirit has brought such discernment opportunities into your own life, and what you learned about yourself as a result. If you’re living in a time of discernment right now, I hope my reflections are helpful and pray that you will find your way to contentment as well.