Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Fork in the Road

Yesterday I had a job interview for a chaplaincy position in a local hospice and tomorrow I meet with all the chaplains. I have the feeling that I will be offered the job. I go into this a bit half-hearted because I really wanted to have a pastoral call by now. It's not happening and we are going deeper and deeper into debt. Something's gotta give and that something is me getting a more lucrative job. My part-time position with its itty-bitty salary just isn't enough.

I do enjoy pastoral care and find it a privilege to journey with people in their last days. I am intrigued about the possibility of working a Monday-Friday, 8-5 job and there is a lot of autonomy in how I spend my time. Chaplaincy certainly is a very important ministry and I am grateful that there is an opportunity for me to be in ministry in this way.

It's not only our financial situation that leads me to want to move on. Anyone who reads this blog with any regularity knows that my job satisfaction has gone way down in the last year. I absolutely love the congregation, but I know that my purpose for being there has passed.

I spoke today with my beloved former colleague and he is concerned that I might have a hard time finding a parish ministry if I am a chaplain. It's easier to be called to a church while working in a church. I do know that ultimately I want to pastor a congregation.

I have been playing the Indigo Girls' song "Watershed" over and over the past few days.
Up on the watershed
standing in a fork in the road.
You can stand there and agonize
til your agony's your heaviest load.

Any words of wisdom out there? Would I be hurting myself professionally?

Of course, they might not even offer me the position and this whole conversation would be moot.


tngirl said...

OK, Iris, I am not one to stand in a fork in the road and agonize. I generally just take a deep breath, open my eyes real wide and go for it. Perhaps this chaplaincy window will lead you to a parish door in ways nothing else can. Peace to you! (((iris)))

Alex said...

Call me, call me, call me! Oh, I am so excited for you!

more cows than people said...

isn't another line in that fabulous song, "gotta learn how to starve the emptiness and feed the hunger", would hospice feed a hunger? it sounds like it might. and i think that being contented, doing faithful ministry, all this is GOOD vocationally. i imagine a lot of churches would be encouraged by your hospice experience and want you as their pastor... it adds another dimension to the skills and gifts you bring. and yes, call alex, she clearly can speak to the possibility of being called to parish work after a hospice call. btw- i just heard today that my dad is thinking about applying for a hospice chaplain position- one full time job instead of the three very unsatisfying and frustrating part time calls he's been doing. i hope it works out for him. and if it feeds a hunger... i hope it works out for you.

i'm curious about where you're based iris. i'm coming south this summer and i'd love to meet you. i'm going to see if your e-mail is accessible from your profile!

Hot Cup Lutheran said...

oh man - I wish I had great words of advice. Just prayers - and words from a wise friend of mine who once said, "remember it takes more courage to trust in God's plans and design for our lives and follow them unchartered than it does for us to follow our own." (sigh) Praying...

Alex said...

You are gonna knock their socks off, girl!

Jody Harrington said...

Iris, I was the chair of a PNC at my previous church when we were searching for an associate pastor. We called a chaplain from MD Anderson (cancer center in Houston). It was the best thing that ever happened to that church.

I don't know why someone told you it would be difficult to get a call to a church if you were a chaplain. My advice, should you be offered and accept this position, is to be active in presbytery so that you maintain your contacts with pastors and elders in churches for the future.

Di said...

Keep an open mind, and listen to your gut. In the meantime, I'll be holding you in God's light.

Anonymous said...

You've gotten lots of good advice already, so I'll just say, do what you think is right. If a church won't "take" you because you've been a chaplain, then they don't deserve you anyway! Peace!