This is a continuation of the previous note regarding careers. See the previous entry for the other 2 classes of individuals in the matter of work and employment.
3. So there’s a third type of individual, increasingly common, who changes jobs and even careers (despite being professional and prestigious) during his lifetime, and even more than once. Just think about it, and you will be amazed at how many you know or know about, and are so numerous we never stop to think about it. Government is full of them, like movie-actor Ronald Reagan, and senators like astronaut John Glenn. I went into teaching (RBC, now called Kuyper College), to say nothing of foreign missions and “home”, chaplaincy, versus the parish or pastoral ministry.
This last paragraph does not include guys who jump around out of general dissatisfaction, without reaching their potential in a present job or really “finishing” it. Any sensible job-changer keeps what he has until he knows what he is going to go into, that is, has another and “better”. There are plenty of examples of both kinds, as I am sure you know.
This memorandum of my many may be the most important I ever put together (certainly if you include the possibility of ill as well as good), for a person’s lifework is a big part of his practical religion, and is hence as sacred as talking about prayer, Bible reading, etc.
I may be wrong. (Wouldn’t be the first time.) But I am presently convinced, in the light of what I read in the Bible (about Jesus and his switch of occupations, of Paul, who carried on a “secular” one with the ministry, for the disciples who left book-keeping, fishing, etc. for other callings, plus my “reading” of history and Providence (which is another big way in which we discover God’s will) that God never intended that everybody be just one thing for his entire life. (Calvinism’s patron saint, Abraham Kuyper, gave up the ministry – can you imagine? – to enter government employ.)
So what I am saying may not sound novel or profound, but it is, namely; that a proper attitude with which one goes into wage-earning life (and attitude is “everything”, as regards diligence, motivation, etc.) should be something like this; “This is not for keeps; I’ll do it only until something ‘better’ comes along.” Such an attitude removes the frightfulness of that first and big decision; it isn’t for life! Nor does it inhibit a man giving it his best; in fact, for me it encourages all-out effort; “I don’t have ‘forever’ to lick this.”
Something that underscores all this is the admittedly rapidly-changing nature of our world and its vocation-choices. “Half of tomorrow’s occupations haven’t as yet been created!” And as far as preparation for jobs is concerned, we are fast discovering that formal or traditional education is not the “answer”; by the very nature of the case, the teachers are just reporting or relaying the situation of “their” day, which is already obsolete. (While they could be keeping update by summer employment and businessmen do, they usually don’t, but stop all that – even “reading” – upon attainment of a “degree” or tenure.)
In contrast, many professions have their own in-service, on-job trainings, with olderish people in them, naturally. (The notion that school is for the younger, and pre-vocational, is itself obsolete.) Again, in my own experience, the happiest schooling I ever had was in Connecticut before going to Nigeria. Plus courses at UNM Med School, psych department, when I was chaplain at the hospital.
All the foregoing applies to the ministry as well as any other profession. In my “day”, despite such exceptions as Abraham Kuyper, it was for life, and many confessed that they felt trapped. But it was thought to be like abandoning the faith to abandon that calling. Unfortunately, much of that feeling still exists. Which is why I have belatedly been beating the drum for tent-making ministry, like the Mormons and their “two-years for everybody”, including later Governor Romney, of Michigan, the former candidate for US President. That is one big reason why the Mormons (and Muslims, etc.) are growing, and the traditional churches do not. (Vine Deloria says correctly that professional preachers don’t go over amongst the Indians – we can hardly pay a Navajo to take pre-sem – because their religious leaders, the medicine men, are not full-time.)
Well, two blog entries is enough. (Too much!) This is not the last word on the subject. I guess the bottom line (literally) is this; a certain amount of mind-changing can be done in school, and through observation, reading, conferring, etc., but in the last analysis, some of it comes only through actual experience and experiment. Take the plunge; it’s not for “keeps”.