No one ever likes getting “fired.” It hurts you and it hurts many around you. Employers will always have their justified reasons for letting you go but the one getting let go also has reasons why they shouldn’t be terminated. Wow those words, fired, let go, terminated. Those are words that carry emotion with them too. When you fill out your next job application and have to check a box saying you were fired it feels humiliating. You fight with a huge range of emotions too when it happens. How do I know these things? Well, it was about a year ago I was fired, let go, terminated. But for me it was being spit out of the belly of the fish. Remember the story of Jonah? He had a calling from God to fulfill and instead of obeying and going to where God wanted me to go, I ran. I bailed out. I jumped right into the belly of a fish.
Let me fill in a backstory here. I had been serving in another ministry and it was well, let’s just say it was at times a hot mess. Multiple leadership changes, some different strategies being pushed forward. Multiple inner circle groups pushing forward their ideas of what type of ministry it should be. Finances began to struggle and leadership started cutting positions and I also was put up on the chopping block. I am grateful to God that he gave me a sense that it was happening on the day it did. I had just finished reading in my journal an old post about hiking through some hard stuff and had had this “voice” in my head say, “prepare yourself, but I got you.” Next thing I knew there was a tap on my door and the executive pastor was at my door asking me to come to his office. He informed me that my position was eliminated and I was no longer wanted or needed. I will not say I wasn’t angry or hurt because I was. I had much I wanted to do and accomplish. But, I also have always said I won’t stay where I’m not wanted and I won’t stay longer than God desires me to stay. When He says Go! I go.
So now I was unemployed and given a small severance which in the church world feels like “hush money” some will not like that term but anyone in ministry will understand. (I’m not slamming, I was grateful that it wasn’t just a complete kicking to the curb as I’ve had that done to me by another ministry. They cut me off with no health insurance, severance or time to say goodbye.”) Ministries sometimes just don’t take care of each other the way we should but I will let God judge all that.
I left quickly and quietly and many people don’t have a clue why I left, which is still very painful. Many just don’t know how to reach out or say anything so they just let you go. (Again, families shouldn’t do those things to each other.) So I now I was faced with throwing out the multiple resumes and limping into another ministry still bleeding from this one, or do I try to find a “regular job?” That is hard for many of us in ministry because this has become our lives’ calling and we don’t have other marketplace skills. (a warning to younger leaders, always have side job skills!) I choose to take a few weeks away and walk through some sabbatical type activities and allow my heart, soul, and mind to heal. I didn’t want to walk back into something wounded and bleeding. I wanted to recover, I wanted my heart to be restored.
After spending time away from everyone and everything, seeking some counseling. I was feeling like myself again, my joy and creativity was returning. My passion for helping others was back. I felt God tugging on my heart. He was asking me to launch something, a ministry to children’s and student ministry leaders, a world I’ve spent the majority of my adult life doing. I launched KMC Coaching, “Helping Leaders, Lead more to Reach more!” I was so excited and began to push myself into the field of ministry coaching only to find after six months of pushing, to hit roadblock after roadblock and not a single client. I began to panic. My funds were running out and I had nothing to show for all my work.
Here’s where my running from God began….
I decided on a whim to attend a small conference and took some resumes with me because who knows maybe I’d get lucky and I could get a “real ministry job” instead of pursuing this crazy dream. I mean it was crazy right? I wasn’t a big name Kidmin guy. I wasn’t out on the speaking tours or anything.
I went and met a guy who 30 days later became my “boss” I thought I had found my dream job and was greatly relieved I didn’t have to stress my family out with this crazy idea of coaching leaders (and there was much more to this dream) I was running full blast away from it. I took the job and dove in sensing things were not all they were cracked up to be on the website, but hey, it will all work out right? LOL!
Long story short, it turned out this was not even close to my dream job, I loved the people and the ministry team I worked with but the workplace culture was far from what I believe to be a healthy one.. Leadership changes above me made my skills and experience totally out of place. It was very clear that what I thought would be a place I could build a ministry up and then coach younger leaders would not be it.
The fish’s stomach was churning
I was quickly realizing ministry strategy and philosophy was making a hard turn. I’m not judging because that is where they wanted to go but it wasn’t what I was brought down to do nor was it what I was built to do. I was no longer wanted or needed and the churning in my spirit was as strong as the fish’s stomach churning while he had Jonah in it. I told my wife the hard truth that once a new local campus leader was found we’d begin the search for the next place. I wasn’t going to stay. I couldn’t.
In my heart I knew why too. This wasn’t the calling I was supposed to be filling. Well it didn’t take long and the new local leader proved he wasn’t compatible with me, nor I with him and he made that clear in a number of ways, but I won’t write those out. I wanted to offer the professional courtesy of staying on for a few months to allow him time to settle.
The Fish Throws Up…
It didn’t take but a few weeks and again while sitting in a prayer room before some meetings, “God whispered to my heart, “Prepare yourself, and remember I have you. I have a mission for you.” I texted my wife and a few close friends that I would be “fired” that day. Within a few minutes from that text I received a text from the HR office that I was requested to attend a meeting, now I had the time of said firing. But I was totally at peace. I knew it was time to obey and walk away to a new path. One I should have been on before experiencing the belly of the fish.
The sad thing was, again I was basically kicked to the curb like this week’s trash. I was let go and given my “hush money” and told to leave quietly, don’t pass go, don’t say goodbye. I knew people would think many things. Had he sinned? Had he morally failed? Why did he quit? But when you’re not in control you have to allow God to guard your reputation and your heart and you walk away.
So what is it like a year later? God has given me an amazing blessing. To see all the imperfections of his bride the church. It’s ok, we are a group of messed up people and we don’t do things right all the time. I still love the Church! I still love and will always be a pastor. In fact, I’m a pastor now. I will be making public a brand new ministry where I’m fulfilling a God-sized vision. This ministry will be huge and I’m working so hard.
When I launched I had no steady income, no steady jobs but I have a steady on time God. He has provided for my family and I and we are soooo BLESSED!
Let me wrap this post up by saying, if you made it this far, I’m impressed and thankful. I hope you’ll stay tuned for what’s coming. It won’t be long and I’ll have the elements needed to make the announcement. It’s big, way bigger than me.
Thank you for sharing!! Having worked in Children’s Ministry the last 20 years I appreciate your heart and honesty.