I was recently asked if when I first started in the coffee industry if I was running from something or running to something. It makes sense for many that it can be one or the other. I tend to be of the mindset that we live in a both/and world. The Kingdom of God is here and not yet, we can be prideful about how humble we are, coffee can be good hot and cold, I can run away from a job while running to something better. I’m not sure what it was that truly prompted the change to start my life in coffee, I do know my heart will always be in it. But what I’m hoping to do today is explore some of the reasons why I have decided to change directions back to a world of full time ministry in a local church. It’s something that might seem like it was going to be my choice all along. I was waiting in line doing coffee until I was able to find the right way out of it. Coffee might have started as a holding pattern until something better came along but I can’t bring myself to think that’s how I feel about it now. My choice boils down to a few incredibly important things.
What am I supposed to be doing with my time? I don’t know how many of you who are reading this feel like you have a vocation. This is much different than an occupation, a job, a career, or what most might define as the thing that earns them money. Money ultimately has something to do with it because it’s impossible to pay bills without it. A vocation to me is a calling, something that is not only embedded in your bones but a passion that exudes from you. For me interacting with people, trying to develop them, disciple them, that’s been in me since I could recognize it. At the coffee shop I was able to do this everywhere. Strangers walking in looking for an exceptional experience, an awesome drink, a fun time. My staff was hugely influential. They impacted me more than I would admit and much more than they will ever know. I enjoyed knowing that every day there was something very familiar waiting for me. Even if the people who walked in the door were different it was comforting knowing I was going to take orders, make orders, and ensure the shop ran smoothly while increasing stability and a culture of hospitality. Yet I ultimately decided to leave making the move to Mt Bethel UMC in Marietta. This was supremely impacted by a simple question that came from one of my favorite customers.
He came in late one night as he often does seemingly like he was determined more than usual. Walking up to the counter in the empty shop he questioned me: “Hey, are you doing anything in youth ministry any more, doing anything with kids?” I had to think about it for a minute before responding, “Well yeah I got my staff here, I get to see great people like you around, it’s a pretty good gig.” His response kind of jolted me for a second, “Then tell me, is that your will or His?”
It seems like a question we need to always be asking ourselves. Why are we doing what we’re doing, is it our will to do it or His? Like plenty of people I hadn’t thought about it in a long time. I’ve loved my job, I get to work in an industry that values transparency, works to improve the lives of farmers all over the world. I get to see change because of sheep. Literally sheep come into the lives of farmers and it can change everything. Yet I didn’t have an answer to this question when my customer brought it up to me and it began a sense of wonder. It kind of excited me to begin exploring what truly is the will of God for my life in these moments. And then an opportunity presented itself.
If you are ever interviewed by a church I hope you also at the same time are interviewing them. I think of it being a bit different than most other jobs, it’s so relational that it needs to be a good fit for all involved. Something I’ve taken to heart was what a Seminary Professor told me that if you’re not 100% convinced of your calling to that particular church then don’t go. You don’t have to feel comfortable about it, you don’t have to be 100% certain about everything that might happen but you need to be sure you’re called to be there because there’s going to be a point when you’ll need that assurance to fall back on. I felt like I took notice of everything since this could possibly be where I went to work every day. It took a few weeks but from the beginning there was a sense of calling, a sense that essentially my gut was going to decide. It was never a money thing, it was never running away completely and it was never running towards something completely. It was as most life changing choices often are, motivated by the Holy Spirit.
After I was offered the job I thought about it for about a week. In reality I could have given my answer right away but I wanted to be sure. Leaving a place where I knew exactly what to do and one that I was really good at it in order to go to a place that I don’t really know that much about seemed, scary. I’ve heard things about what the community thinks of the church, I saw a little of the inside scoop asking as many questions as I could of key volunteers, I wondered constantly as I tried to get some time alone to simply think. I dreamed of what it could be. I contemplated why I thought I was the right person, why was God calling me to this place at this time, and was I hearing Him correctly? These questions were never answered with an audible voice or really much of anything with the exception of: peace. Reminds me of all the Masses I’ve been to and each one begins and ends with the same sentiment. The Peace of our Lord be with you always. That is what I had and what I needed. PEACE.
I’ve been here 4 days, so many questions still to be answered and a lot more to soak in. Learning the cultural lexicon and mostly just drinking in everything I can. It’s easy to look back on what I was doing last week. Especially since it felt like it ended so suddenly. One minute I’m making coffee for people the next I’m trying to remember the names of the tremendously large, tremendously gracious and hospitable staff I’m now a part of. I’ve tried to navigate through exactly what made me push the button and make this type of life change. It’s interesting, I still feel like I have no idea what I’m doing or really what I’ve gotten myself into. Yet that’s the most comforting thing about the whole decision. It’s one of the main reasons why I feel like it was the Holy Spirit driving this choice and that I feel so great about making it. Even though I might not have any idea what I’m doing, He does. And that, is the most peaceful I could ever feel.