God's Gift for You in 2023: More Fulfillment in Your Life and WorkDec 27, 2022
Are you feeling a little stuck, broke, or unfulfilled in your life and work right now? And you wish things could change for you in 2023, but you’re not sure how…or if it’s even possible? Well I believe whatever change you’re ready for…is ready for you! And in this episode of the More Than a Pastor show I’ll share 3 steps for finding more fulfillment in your life and ministry in the new year. Lets get started.
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Pastor, God Wants to Give You More Fulfillment in Your Life and Work
Have you ever lost a Christmas gift you received, and you didn’t realize it until sometime later? Or have you accidentally left a gift under the tree, and it wasn’t discovered until long after all the other gifts had been opened?
Well, something like that happened to our family last Christmas.
My wife and I don’t often give each other specific gifts for Christmas. We typically buy what we need when we need it. Or sometimes we give ourselves the “gift” of a new appliance or some home repair or project.
But in 2021, despite having just paid $6,000 in car repairs, $1,800 for a new water heater, and $250 to replace the thermostat in our oven, right before Christmas, we decided to give each other a gift.
My wife gave me an awesome gift - a really fun staycation weekend, where she and I would eat out every meal at restaurants we’d never been to…or hadn’t been to in a really long time… and go see a couple of shows or sporting events.
And I gave her a gift card to a local nail salon. Yeah, I know, her gift to me was worth a lot more than my gift to her.
But the thing is…my wife enjoys getting her nails done a couple of times a year - especially if we’re taking a trip to Florida in the winter (like we are next week for our denomination’s pastor and spouse retreat in Orlando). But she can’t bring herself to spend the money on it herself. Do you have anyone like that in your life?
So, I thought a gift card to a nail salon would be the perfect gift for her. And it was. When she opened the package, she was excited for it…and she began to strategize when she should plan to use it.
But then…a few days later… we discovered we had a problem. We couldn’t find the gift card. Anywhere.
It wasn’t where we typically keep gift cards, certificates, and coupons. It wasn’t in any of the other possible places where we could have put it. So then we began to search far and wide for it. But no luck.
It’s a year later now, and we’ve never found that gift card. My guess is it got mixed up with all the wrapping paper and packaging that got piled up in our living room while the kids were opening their gifts, and it accidentally got tossed in the trash.
My gift..to my wife…in the trash.
That gift was given with the best of intentions. I knew my wife would like it. She was very happy to receive it. But then somehow that gift…and the enjoyment of it…disappeared.
Our Sense of Purpose & Fulfillment Can Fade Over Time, But They Don't Have To
Life is like that sometimes, isn’t it. And if we’re honest, our work as pastors is too. Things start out full of excitement, meaning, and purpose. And then somehow, over time, that all gets lost.
We can feel stuck at times, and frustrated that we’re not where we thought we’d be by now. We can feel broke because of an insufficient pastor salary and increasing financial pressures, like the rising prices caused by inflation right now. We can feel unfulfilled because we know we’ve got more to give but we’re just not able to tap into it right now in our current ministry.
Why is there this “Great Resignation” right now of so many Americans quitting their jobs in search of something different. Recent surveys show that 25-30% of Americans want to change jobs in 2023. What if it’s that many pastors too? Pastors who have the greatest calling in the world, right?
I think one reason is that we’ve lost, or forgotten, a wonderful gift that God has given us, and we finally come to a point where we’re desperate to find it again. What is that gift?
Solomon, or Qoheleth mentions it a couple of times in Ecclesiastes chapters 2 and 3, and I’ll paraphrase it here:
That each person should find pleasure in their work…this is a gift from God. (Ecclesiastes 2:24, 3:13)
Fulfillment in Life and Work is God's Gift to Us
Pleasure. Or we might say Satisfaction. Joy. Fulfillment. In our work…is God’s gift to us.
So if we’re not experiencing it, I think it’s important for us to ask, What am I missing?
- Am I not seeing my work the right way (perspective)?
- Am I not doing it the right way (experience)?
It’s interesting to me how the church can be wonderfully organic and life-giving, and how it can become corporate and suck the life out of us. How we have a tendency to want to grow our church and make it all it can be, and then it becomes so big that it controls us.
How we design buildings and structures to help us accomplish our mission, and how those buildings and structures can begin to dictate what we do and how we do it.
It’s interesting how our desire to serve God and others can become an unhealthy drive to do it all. And how we can preach about the fulfilling life God wants for everyone in our church family and community, and yet struggle to find it ourselves.
And sometimes, it’s not that things are so bad…it’s just that we know that we’re not where we want to be. And we have no idea how things could ever change with the leadership we have now and they expectations they’ve created. Or they’ve allowed me to create…that now aren’t healthy any more.
And that’s why many pastors want to leave, thinking it’s easier to start over somewhere new, than try to make the changes they know they’d need to make here and now.
So If your job or ministry or vocation is not feeling like a gift from God right now…let me just ask you…what if you’re doing it wrong?
And what if there’s a way you can recapture that gift without quitting, moving to a different church, or getting out of the ministry altogether?
It’s easy to understand why many American workers are leaving their jobs. The pandemic awakened them to a new sense of empowerment, realizing that life is short and they want to make a bigger difference somewhere else, or work with people who aren’t A-holes, pardon my french, or live somewhere warmer or better or whatever. And they recognize that they are unable to affect those changes in their current environment. So they have to go somewhere else.
But if you’re a pastor…if you’re in leadership…you’re in a place where you can, to some extent, affect the changes that need to be made. But you first have to believe that it’s possible. And you need to have the will to do it.
If you’re not making the income you need to make, what if you could negotiate a better compensation package from your church? And if you can’t get more money, then negotiate for more time off, and take that time to launch your own side hustle or business. Maybe even begin the shift to co-vocational ministry?
If you’re feeling worn out and spent each week, what if you re-worked your schedule to give yourself more margin. And you took your sabbath day. And what if you empowered more leaders to do the work of the ministry? And you found other life-giving hobbies or interests to pursue, which would help to fill you up?
If you’re sick of all the division and tribalism in your church or denomination, what if you forged a new path? And found allies in other places who could encourage and support you in the changes you’d like to make?
Now, I know, you might be thinking, “Rich, this is easy for you to say, but you don’t know my church…or my situation…or my family…or my whatever.”
Well yes you’re right, I don’t.
That reminds me of a situation my wife and I were in 26 years ago. Shortly after our first child was born. My wife absolutely loved her job, working in the advancement office of a university, and she had planned to continue working after our child was born. And the university even made it possible for her to work from home quite a bit. They paid for us to get a dedicated phone line for her to have internet access…this was in 1996, back in the dial-up modem days.
But once our son was born, she decided she wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. So she quit her job. And just a few months before, I had quit my full-time job to become an urban missionary, doing homeless crisis intervention work. So I had to raise support for that work. Plus I took on more part-time work at a radio station. And did some consulting work on the site. We made it work. But more than that…the Lord made it work.
And I remember several women in our small group who were in awe of my wife quitting her job, because they wanted to do the same, and stay at home with their children, but for them it was impossible.. And they would say, “Candace, you make it sound so easy.”
And for us, it was impossible. Until we did it. And then it was easy.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way. We simply clarified what we wanted, believed it was possible (Made that our goal). We took action on the steps we knew we could take. (we figured out a way to make it happen).
And God blessed us and provided in ways we never could have imagined. And those leaps of faith eventually led me into pastoral ministry.
So, it’s true I may not know you or your situation. But I do believe that whatever you’re ready for today is ready for you.
And I have a bias toward taking action and figuring things out as I go.
So if you want to receive God’s gift of more fulfillment in your life and work in 2023, let me ask you:
- Do you have clarity about what change you want to see happen in your life? What change just HAS to happen in 2023?
- Do you believe change is possible for you…that God would want this for you…and are you ready to receive this?
- What are the next steps you’re reasonably sure you should take?
Hey, listen, you don’t have to have it all figured out. Just take the next steps you’re reasonably sure you should take.
If you’re not sure exactly what change you want to see happen…or how to even get there, why don’t we have a conversation about it, and let me help you find the clarity and confidence you need to take your next best step.
Maybe you just need someone to listen - someone who understands because they’ve been where you are - and help you believe in what’s possible for your life. Maybe you need someone to give you permission to live the life you were made for. Let me be that person for you.
If that’s you, let’s find a time to chat. It all starts at morethanapastor.com/coaching.
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