by Stan Bennett

by Stan Bennett

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Next Step

So far I've written that my job sucks, that I don't want to do it anymore, and I've even outlined reasons why I don't like it.  The sentiments are legitimate but they're not helping me get very far.  I need to get some traction.

Lots of ministers in my position are finding it hard to change careers. Our education and experience equipped us for ministry but not much else, or that's how it seems.  I really do have valuable skills in communication, administration, and leadership--qualities that give me some versatility. But transitions are hard for everyone and I'm no exception.

Perhaps I have made an increment of progress today.

First, I spoke to my wife about the need for me to find other employment. I focused on the practical aspect: churches are declining and there's less opportunity--that kind of thing.

I did not speak of my lack of belief. A few years ago, during one of my many crises of faith, I tried to talk to her about it and it made her very afraid--she thought I would go to hell. I feel bad for her about that now, but at the time it made me furious. I don't speak of it now because it would be still be hard for her.

However, I did say this about church work: "I can't keep asking people to join something that makes them worse and not better."

"That's true." she said softly. But coming from her, that's a big statement.

She has been adversely affected by our church work, too. She has sacrificed a great deal to live this life and frankly, she deserved better than how she has been treated.  People have been unkind to her simply because she was married to me.

Our children have also been harmed, but that's another story.

One of the skills my wife developed in recent years is her ability to research scholarship opportunities and to help our son apply for them for college. The boy is bright--valedictorian--and he won many scholarships but it was his mother that did the work and found all the benefits that were out there so that his four years of undergrad work will be completely paid for with no loans or out of pocket experience.

A friend suggested that I ask her to help me in the same way.

I am so busy at this job that I don't have a lot of time or energy to search for a new path. But she can. Last night, I asked her to start looking for education opportunities. Specifically, I need to talk to a career counselor who can advise me on my best options. I need to know what the area schools are offering. And I need her to see what kind of financial aid there is--believe me, she'll find whatever is available.

So that was the next step. The first one was deciding to get out. The second one is to enlist the aid of my wife. I don't know why I didn't think of it before.

Now on to step three. I'll tell you about it when I figure out what it is.


  1. Step three always does seem to be ????, doesn't it? It's great to see you moving forward. Sometimes it can feel so daunting, but if you keep moving, it will always work out one way or the other.

    1. A friend of mine says simply: "Decided what you need to do. Then start." You'd think it would be easy to remember that, but sometimes we can allow ourselves to get mired in worry rather than action

  2. The clergy project would be great for you, if you haven't joined up yet. Google it and find out more.
    They also have 'transition grants' and are looking for folks to take these opportunities. You'd be a solid candidate, I reckon.

  3. Perhaps she needs to start a business helping folks find appropriate financial aid!!