Something all clergy couples are familiar with is the phrase “geographically limited.” It is a rare thing when the timing of calls for two people line up perfectly. I’m guessing that as many young seminarians are falling in love and planning their futures, they talk about “taking turns.” One person will find their dream job, stay there just long enough, and then the next person will be able to do their dream job.
That doesn’t happen.
Since Sarah had been working on her PhD during the beginning of my ministry, we moved to Oregon for my first job, and then we moved to Illinois for my second job. We assumed my job was going to be a long-term one, and then we’d move next for her job.
But, that didn’t happen. After deciding that she no longer felt called to the PhD program, she eventually got a full-time associate pastor position at a church that she really loves. And shortly after that, I left the church I was at.
I am now figuring out what is next and I am geographically limited. Granted, being geographically limited means something very different in Chicagoland than it would in the middle of South Dakota, but what I am finding is that being geographically limited is an unexpected gift. I check the CLC every Monday (for non-Presbyterians, that’s the Presbyterian Church (USA) job website), and I don’t see anything I’m interested in pursuing.
And that has allowed me to sit back and imagine what possibilities exist. It has allowed me to think more about what my real gifts and strengths are, and to think how those could best be used during this season of my life. And it has me thinking more like an entrepeneur.
Rocky Supinger has written about pastors and their “side-hustles” (I love that phrase). And I think some of my side-hustles are going to become a bigger part of whatever is next for me.
I’ve been listening to the audiobook “The $100 Startup” and while I don’t think I’m going to find a quick way to make a million dollars, it does have me thinking about the things I’m passionate about and interested in, and seeing where those things could help add value to other people’s lives. Or, as Frederick Buechner said more theologically, I’m trying to really find where my deep joy and gladness meets the world’s deep needs.
That may be in a church again. That may not be. I don’t know.
But what I do know is that this decision to leave a church without knowing what is next while being geographically limited is proving to be a time of imagination, possibility and healing.