I didn’t get the job… either of them… and it felt like good news.
Somewhere back in June, within a span of thirty minutes, I was presented with the opportunity to work at two distinct organizations (nowhere near San Diego). Either organization would have been a remarkable privilege, a great challenge, and just enough prestige to be problematic.
At the risk of being self-glorifying, it was helpful for me to reflect on this recent season and the way it was a blessing to me. In the hope it might be a blessing to others, this is what I learned:
- Say “Yes” to the adventure. I was not looking for a different job. My wife and I didn’t want to leave San Diego. I had no interest in moving anywhere with dangerous things like precipitation or temperatures below 50 degrees. Yet we couldn’t shake the possibility that the Lord might actually call us away despite the aforementioned mature and godly criteria we imposed upon the Lord. Saying “Yes” was an act of obedience, a reluctant exploration of God’s will, committed with surprising surrender. To learn that about ourselves was good news.
- Consider the soul. I am a bit of an achiever. I have been bent toward accomplishment and the associated prestige that accompanies “doing great things for God.” I was keenly aware that my hard-won efforts to live a balanced life in ministry with Flourish San Diego, would have been thrown out of whack with new performance pressures. If called, I would have trusted that God would help me navigate those new temptations. But I learned to think clearly about the way either of these demanding roles would have had upon the shaping of my soul. Soul care was a new and healthy dimension to take into consideration. That was good news.
- There is relief and learning in rejection. I don’t think this is (merely) an attempt to reframe rejection and thus dampen the disappointment. I have genuinely seen this whole exercise as a beautiful opportunity to weigh my motivations, repent as necessary, and surrender to the right ones. It was a great chance to explore inner fears and preoccupations, and preach the gospel to myself. I advanced to a short list of final candidates in each role, but I bombed one of the interviews so spectacularly that it could only have been “of the Lord.” I still chuckle about that. Even that was good news too.
- What Love looks like in applying for a job. Left to my own devices, I could have worked hard to present my qualifications, experience and delightful personality, as an exercise of self-love. While I had bombed the final interview for one role (probably trying too hard to glorify myself), by the time I got to the final interviews for the second organization, it was quite different. I actually knew some of the other final candidates. We had worked together in several capacities. We were friends. And that really turned my thinking away from “Let me get the job” to a prayer that “the organization would get the right person, and that they would flourish in the role” …all for the glory of God. Curiously, I really wanted the best for everyone, not just me. I could tangibly feel the desire “to the will the good of others” (Willard’s definition of love). That felt strange, but really right and really good.
Yes, it was a long and tiresome wait. It lent all sorts of ambiguity to planning in life and ministry. It presented what felt like interruptions in advancing toward our ministry objectives and put a pause on our necessary fundraising efforts.
Interestingly, even as I waited with uncertainty… all kinds of very intriguing opportunities and dynamics have shown up on the radar. Pastors that we have been serving are collaborating as co-sponsors of our learning community. We are pursuing opportunities for greater spiritual growth and peer-coaching together. We have been given favor with some great new networks and ministries. In short, what felt like a frustrating delay was just that… a feeling that was far from God’s reality.
This season was great to show me where my will was both aligned and misaligned with the Kingdom. In the case of misalignment, I was reminded afresh why the gospel is literally good news. Christ’s redemptive work on the cross is what makes it possible for us to love God and love others in all the ways we actually long for. God alone is able to convert destructive self-love to something constructive and god-loving.
In the end, I believe these organizations got the right people… and the Lord got more of me. That’s really good news.