I’ve been thinking about the way in which my career has changed over the past few years.
I started out going to Bible College to get a degree in “Preaching.” I got that degree in 2005—but this isn’t really about that. While I was at college, I began working in the school library. Over time, I was moved up to a full-time employee, then to management. Alongside that, I became a Worship Minister—“part time” supposedly, though that doesn’t really exist in ministry. (In ministry, it’s more like you’re always “on call.”) These days, I’m in the field of dealing with insurance claims (though I’m not the guy who does any actual settling or anything like that). That’s a weird resume.
Okay…let’s start with the ministry. I thought that was what I was going to do forever. After a while, I even started trying to dress the part, wearing suits and short hair… But, I wasn’t prepared for how nasty people in the church can be to one another. I knew it was a reality of the ministry—don’t misunderstand me on that. I am not one of those people who says, “Bible College didn’t prepare me for that…” Actually, it kind of did. But I didn’t count on nepotism, gossip, and just downright mean-spirits being quite so prevalent…and I was only the MUSIC minister! I can’t imagine what some PREACHERS must go through. So, in a wash of church politics and hurt feelings, that only lasted a few years. I’m over it now and I don’t carry any bad feelings. I even left of my own accord, rather than being fired or having my resignation “called for” by the leadership. It was really just a case of “oops.” I thought I wanted to do that as a career…oops. Silly me and my diploma.
Now…the library job was one I honestly can say that I would’ve been fine doing for the rest of my life (though maybe not all at the same location…eventually, I think I would’ve moved on to a public library rather than a Bible College one). I started as a student worker. I came in wearing jeans, a baseball cap, and whatever tour-shirt I happened to be wearing that day and did whatever menial task was assigned to me. They kept me on after I graduated. Then when a staff shake-up happened and a new assistant was needed, I got the gig—full time, with benefits. After saving up some cash at it, I went out and bought nice pants and a few sport-coats, so I’d look more like a staff member and less like a student-worker who’d hung around too long. Then another staff shake-up happened and I was promoted to management—which was cool, but didn’t come with a raise…but did come with a LOT more work and responsibility. At that point, I bought more nice pants, shirts, ties…etc…and I regularly wore a suit about 2-3 times a month, so I’d look like management—again, even though I wasn’t getting PAID like management.
Then in April last year, I was told I’d be laid off at the end of the year. (One of the biggest kicks to the gut on that one was that they gave me the news less than two weeks after they gave me business cards…which I now use as bookmarks.) Fortunately, I was able to find a new job before my contract ran out and I was (once again) able to leave of my own accord, submitting my own resignation letter rather than just being handed a pink-slip.
I liked the library job a lot. There are parts of it I still miss. I kid about the money…but the job was pretty good. I don’t harbor any real bad feelings about that whole thing. There’s no reason to. They were good to me for the seven (or so? I don’t recall now…) years that I worked there. They did the right thing in a tough economic climate. No complaints or anything…but I do have a lot of khaki pants sitting around now…
And that brings us up to me working in insurance. Who knew? I love it. 🙂 I actually feel like we do as good a job, if not better, at helping people as most ministries out there. We help to get people up on their feet again after something bad happens—and/or we help people get a fair shake if someone’s trying to screw them over. (We don’t actually do liability…but we do kind of help move things along…it’s hard to explain.) Plus, the only time I need to dress up is if one of our major clients comes around—which isn’t too often. In most ways, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life, and I’ve got a lot to be thankful for.
Which leads me to some of the best advice you’ll ever get… When I was in ministry, I felt it necessary to dress appropriately, so I bought nice clothes and wore my hair short. When I was a librarian, I felt it necessary to dress like college staff and kept the hair short. Now…I wear jeans and t-shirts (and usually cowboy boots) and my hair’s longer than it’s been in about 4 years. (I might cut that in Spring, though…we’ll see…) If I had only listened to the following piece of advice, I don’t know if I’d have been happier, necessarily, since that whole chain of events was necessary to lead me here (and I made a lot of GREAT friends along the way)…but I sure could’ve saved a buttload of money on clothes…
Here you go…the best advice you’ll ever get…
“Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.” – Thoreau
It’s pretty important to have a job where you can be yourself and wear your own pants. You can have happy times working in places where you’ve got to meet the dress/personality code…or you can be even happier being somewhere that you don’t. I don’t regret the jobs I’ve had…but I’m at my happiest now that I’m out of uniform. There’s something to be said for that.
Just thought I’d share.