On Vocation/Calling/What am I going to do when I grow up?

Time to look into the mirror.

I have thought a lot about the idea of calling and vocation lately.  Working with young people I find myself saying.. you don’t need to have it all figured out.  I really wanted a 5 year plan.  I have always wanted a 5 year plan.  I don’t think God has ever let me have one.

PLU taught me that vocation was the spot where your great passion met the world’s great need (thanks Wild Hope).  I learned working at Puyallup Foursquare that ministry was who I was, not what I did.  Recently I learned from Pastor Frank Damazio (City Bible Church) that ministry was a calling and that the practical of what I did was the current function.

Not everyone feels like they are called (but they are) or that they have to have a vocation (but they can).  I have always loved working but I wanted to do something I loved.

When I was in third grade I wanted to be a fashion designer and a doctor.  I think somewhere deep down, I knew that money could be shaky in the arts.  In 6th grade I still wanted to be a doctor but there was a part of me that really wanted to work at MTV.  I identified doctor as a smart person vocation.. and I liked being smart.  I identified MTV as a place of arts and a place I could wear jeans to work.

In high school I was drawn to many things.  Music business, drama, writing, graphic design, photography.  I was also drawn to helping people and figuring things out.  I worked at a real estate office as a receptionist and I taught clarinet lessons. I also wanted to be a smart person.

In college I freaked out and on my third try I picked Music Education.  I really enjoyed it.  Everything about it.  What I probably learned most in my music education classes was that I was a leader and I learned how to be a better leader. I also started serving in church on the worship team and with the youth ministry.  At one point I felt what I now know was God pointing me towards ministry.

I taught very briefly after college and quickly learned that I like working with young people and I hated bell schedules.  I loved mentoring and couldn’t stand grading periods! I didn’t know I was a free spirit – or had problems with authority… who knows.

After that I worked as an admission counselor and finally landed at Puyallup Foursquare working with the Executive Pastor and eventually the creative pastor (apologize for the run on sentence).  I thought everything had let to that.  I got to use all the things I had learned and loved it.  I waited a few years and then finally got my district pastoral license in the Foursquare Denomination (tell that to 3rd grade me).

When we moved to Camas, I came back to an old passion.. graphics, art and writing.  Armed with a hand me down computer and an old copy of Adobe Illustrator.. I learned a lot.. and then I learned some more.  Somehow I ended up being the Communications Director at Grace Church.  I’ve taught myself quite a bit and learned a lot from friends and other churches/businesses.  I also get to pastor people – my favorites being those 6th grade – college.  I love the local church and what it is capable of doing for the community and world (like giving away in over $27,000 in assistance in a year among other things).

The coolest part is that I haven’t arrived.  I can look back and see the tapestry of my calling.  I look at the areas God has placed me and it is pretty amazing.  I never thought making 700 calls to prospective students would be a layer in that but it is (finding something to talk about with an angry 8th grade girl can be hard sometimes!).

I am convinced that no matter where you are in life… there is still more to be done.   We are on a journey.  **Edit** so when you are frustrated and angry at where you at… remember.. there is more **  It is okay that I don’t know what 5 years from now looks like.  I’m on the journey to what I will be when I grow up.

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Are You Listening?

One of the key ways that I know that someone isn’t listening to me or that what I am saying isn’t important to them is when they call me “Gwen.” It is a tell-tale sign that they aren’t really getting what I am putting down. Most people know that a pet peeve of mine is unauthorized nicknames, Gwen being top at the list. My name is Gwyneth. Now I fully understand that my name can be hard to hear. Sometimes the “TH” is hard to hear. I am also aware that people learn by comparing things to something familiar, interpreting information to fit an already comfortable set of data. So Gwen comes out. It becomes more complicated after correction and the Gwen still sticks around. I have to ask myself… are they listening? Do they hear me?

When someone isn’t listening, I tend to share much less. So much of what I want to express gets shut down. Now I am guessing I am not the only one who feels this way. There are some who will go on anyway and those who aren’t listening will suffer other ways. I was supposed to do that?

I have to practice listening. Listening to people. Listening to God. Listening to Matt. It is as difficult as reading directions for me. But it is vital to my role as a wife, communicator, pastor, leader, friend and mentor. If you are walking around doing any of these and you are not listening… I guarantee you will hit a roadblock or pitfall and the casualties may be tragic. As I practice, I realize that we are all on a journey. Most of us are selfish and so listening is difficult. So we may have a few apologies to go around because we didn’t listen while someone told us their life story. Fortunately there are a lot of articles, books and blogs about leadership & listening. So listen away!

General Update

So we have been in Camas for over a month.  Although we love our church and our students and soon Camas, it doesn’t quite feel like home.  We are are still in transitional housing waiting for our house to close.  Hopefully we will know more tomorrow about the date of our close.  Currently we are waiting for our loan to be approved.  Even with preapproval, it seems to take an eternity.  However, we made it through inspection and appraisal with favorable results.  I think we are getting a good deal.

So we are staying up on Livingston Mountain in someone’s house while they are in Arizona.  You can get an idea: Google Maps! It is about a 20 minute drive to Grace but even more into town or Vancouver.  Today Matt and I drove down together and we will be taking separate cars back as I will do grocery shopping and errands (we left a car at the church the other day).  Needless to say this is wearing on us.  And I get a little stir crazy because it is higher elevation and colder and LOTS of hills (whining) proving it hard on the asthma when running.  So I haven’t really been working out too much.

Have I mentioned I want our house to close soon.

Youth ministry at Grace is going well. There are so many things changing and more to come.  I am thankful we have an amazing leadership team and that our students are hungry for more.  It makes it easy when they desire change too!  We had our High School Christmas party last night and the ugly sweaters were in force.  It seemed everyone had a great time.  I am getting the opportunity to be pushed a lot in this transition.  We are doing both Middle School and High School (at the same time/night) because there is no middle school pastor… yet.  So I am speaking much more than ever before from ministry time, announcements.  It is good refining and I’m getting over fears I have dealt with.

So there is a little nibble for today.