Well, since my "All the Rest Have 31" post a couple of weeks ago a lot of you have written to me to share ideas and express concern, and I appreciate it very much. This is a new adventure for me. Indeed, I've had a few new life adventures this year and am certainly learning a lot from each one. Facing the specter of unemployment for the first time in my life helps me appreciate what many folks I know and have known have been through and are going through. I have been sympathetic along the way of course, but not truly empathetic. That has changed. This is a big transition in difficult times.
Some days I feel anxious, but so far most days I feel hopeful and encouraged. Thankfully the church where I have been pastoring for 16 years (Covenant Fellowship - if you don't have a church home you should check it out) is going to help in our transition to whatever is next, so it's not like we starve starting in June - just so you'll know.
So I wanted to try to type out a summary of where I am in this job/vocational search. A few things are coming into focus.
I am finding that it's hard to know how to balance short and long term financial needs, the lower paying present opportunities (which offer no chance of ever paying even the well-trimmed bills) with the higher paying potential opportunities that take more time to find (and offer hope of providing for our needs). It seems best to let the longer term employment search process go out a couple of months before I tie up most of my time with a job that would hinder it. I've asked different people about this issue and have gotten widely different answers. It seems the consensus is to give the longer term a shot first. I will need wisdom.
Though it looks like there might not be a solid existing job prospect out there for a person with my background, especially given the economy, I will keep my eyes and mind open as I talk to people and check notices as to existing jobs. One never knows. I have been a generalist pastor for 20 years, a teacher for five, and have run a couple of businesses, all of which gives me breadth of experience, and a lot of practice in communicating (speaking and writing) and in working with people. So, who knows, something may happen. Call me.
I also will keep exploring teaching jobs in NC. I qualify for "lateral entry" here in Guilford County so at least there is that. Unfortunately, there exist hiring freezes all over the place.
I do have a couple of ideas as to longer term employment, but they each require some retooling in terms of education and fundamental knowledge and skills. Even in my areas of interest and having some experience I am still a little out of date.
I have been - both in pastoral ministry and in life in general - a bit of a generalist. I think I could bring a lot to a small business or an organization but it doesn't perhaps look that way on paper. Rather than bemoan that and get discouraged I think I need to use my age and life experience to my advantage. I get the feeling that whatever is out there for me will take require this generalist experience and tendency, especially my experience communicating and with working with people.
Not sure where else to turn I am looking in the direction of areas that have interested me for some time.
First I have interest in a kind of uber-green horticulture/landscape design business that would focus on things like water conservation and runoff, the use of native plants, reduction of equipment emissions, pesticide and herbicide avoidance, use of organic materials, designing and planting with wildlife in mind, possibly more in a restoration/design/maintenance sense but possibly also in a new construction and community planning sense as well, the latter given my interest in land restoration and habitat reclamation. Second, I am still drawn toward working for a non profit environmental organization, perhaps a land trust or a group like the Nature Conservancy whose mission I am particularly drawn to. In both of these areas I do think need more experience, skill, and knowledge upgrade. This could mean formal schooling or a mix of less formal schooling (certificate programs), volunteer work, and just studying up. I am considering each option.
I am already set up with a growing readership/viewership of my online work, plus I am equipped to make some money offering a few services as I have outlined before. I think I need to take advantage of the exposure that I already have by focusing a decent amount of time contributing content in areas consistent with those two areas of interest. These areas weave together very well by the way. In doing this writing combined with training and volunteering, I can interact with and get to know some of the leaders in the interest areas I have cited.
I continue to draw a fair amount of interest in music, art, photography, stories, and general Christian takes on various issues, etc. I think I should take advantage of that as well, partly because it is a good thing to do, and partly to stay connected to other people.
This week is lining up well. I signed up yesterday for an intensive non profit management certificate program at Duke in June. I am also in conversation with a leader in Nature Conservancy to get her take on what sorts of things I should do to be more marketable at an organization like that. I met yesterday with a friend who wants me to think about helping in a prospective business that would take advantage of my experience in analysis and writing, I am meeting with a writing coach, a local doctor friend who is very active in leadership in the community, am applying for a spot in a local leadership training group, and meeting several other folks for general networking.
It's a process. Prayers, ideas and leads are welcome.
Well, all for now.