First off, let me say I hope the holidays have been exciting, refreshing, and relaxing. I know that I always enjoy seeing family and friends and giving and receiving gifts.
In spite of my lack of posting, I have spent some time writing recently, the bulk of which has been about my new ‘job’ or issues that my new work has compelled me to think about. In that spirit, I will be posting over the next few days – consistently I hope. I will begin with a post that introduces my new work and some questions I’d like to hear you weigh on in. So, without further ado…
I am spending this week (first week of Dec) in Chicago, IL to train for a new ‘job’ I will begin next week. Job is in quotes, because it’s technically not a job…and consequently, I don’t technically receive a paycheck.
For the next 12 months, I will be serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA. The VISTA program (link to Wiki) was established in the ’60’s in the war on poverty in the United States. I am joining roughly 6,000 other ‘volunteers’ to combat poverty in a county-by-county effort. The motto goes, the pay is meager, the job will be challenging, and the task at hand (defeating poverty) is daunting, to put it mildly. In an effort to enhance solidarity with the poor, VISTAs receive a living stipend which approximates the poverty level in the respective community. To put it mildly, I’m not in this for the money.
Six months ago, I would have never expected to be here. I had every confidence that I would find a job in a church or church-related organization after graduation from seminary. Or, maybe I would find a job at a Christian school or even teach adjunct at a Christian college. I even thought long and hard about joining a denomination in order to find a job; those who know me know how significant that decision would have been. Yet, resume after resume was rejected, and I found myself working part-time at Best Buy selling computers.
Then, my loving wife forwarded me a job description from an office in her building. The description was compelling. I interviewed, and shortly thereafter I was offered the position and a very difficult choice. Would the rewards offered by this job outweigh the financial difficulty? What if a great position comes along six months from now, and I’m locked into a 12-month commitment? Will I find a secular non-profit job fulfilling? Those questions remain unanswered, but obviously, I did take the job, or more accurately, decided to become a Volunteer In Service To America.
So, for those who don’t know about this yet, this is what I’ll be doing for the next 12 months. For those who already knew, here are some more details about what I’ll be doing.
And in the next few posts, I plan on letting you in on some of my theological musings that have been fermenting while I have been going through this process. Here’s a sneak peak at some of them:
Where does a Christian’s ultimate loyalty lie, with God or Country? (The answer is obvious to me, but this question sparks some interesting other questions)
What are concrete, practical ways to build God’s kingdom in a secular job? (A question I might need some help with)
How do you work a job which prohibits you from discussing your faith (in a persuasive manner) while on company time?
Does working toward social justice exhaust the Christian’s social responsibility?
What is the motivation to serve others if not rooted in the Gospel?