Saturday, November 7, 2009

Thought For Soon to Graduate Seminarians

I read this blog post tonight from Seth Godin and thought it would be beneficial to pass along to all of my soon to graduate seminary friends. I've heard so many stories about graduates entering the ministry in bad situations because they "took what they could get" and I am hoping that we can all keep from compromising...easier said than done, right? So enjoy the post and leave a comment about what you think.

Take what you can get (?)

When you're just starting out or when your organization is struggling or when the economy isn't hot, it's very tempting to take what you can get.

You just graduated from law school and you have a lot of debt and the best job you can get is doing collections work. Should you take it?

Your consulting firm is organized around providing high-value work for large corporations, but the only gigs you can get in the consideration set for are small, struggling companies looking to spend a few hundred dollars a day. Should you take them?

The list goes on and on.

There are two things worth remembering here:

  1. Like bending a sapling a hundred years before the tree is fully grown and mature, the gigs you take early will almost certainly impact the way your career looks later on. If you want to build a law practice in the music industry, you'll need to take on musicians as clients, even if the early ones can't pay enough. If you want to do work for Fortune 500 companies, you'll need to do work for Fortune 500 companies, sooner better than later.
  2. The definition of "can get" is essential. Maybe it seems like this gig or that gig is the best you can get because that's all you're exposing yourself to. Almost always, the best gig I could get is shorthand for the easiest gig I could get.
Surviving is succeeding, no doubt about it. Doing the work is better than not doing the work. Waiting for perfect is never as smart as making progress. But, and it's a huge but, you define yourself by the work you do, and perhaps you need to redefine what you're willing to take and where you're looking for it.


Mr. Imperial said...

I think a large motivation for most of us is taking what we can get not just so we'll have a job, but so we can start paying off loans. There's a big catch-22 there; do we risk needing to convince the government to give us a slight break (an economic hardship deferment), or do we take something as a sort of "base of operations" to earn money whilst directing all other attention at finding the "dream job"? Well, it depends on many if you have a spouse that is able to support you, for one.

I have seen the way my parents handled jobs, and they way they encouraged me whilst growing up to never settle just because; they were both settlers and saw the kind of life it produced. It really can be a vicious thing; you're 18-25, find a job that pays well even though you hate it, and before you know it 30 years have passed, you're burned out, and you've missed your dreams. I think God wants to honor our dreams because he gave them to us - of course, we need to be discerning about whether a dream we have is entirely selfish or if it's truly from God, not an easy process (and an entirely other blog post).

But we also need to be discerning about the right time to buck up and take a crappy job for a short time. So the moral of the story: find a spouse to support you ;-).

Eric said...

Great points, Chuck. The loan repayment seems to be killing a lot of people when it comes to finding a job they are passionate about. We have huge school bills so the first church/school/job that offers seems better than it might because it's attached to a paycheck. Not good for the pastor, not good for the people of the church.

The job as a base of operations is difficult too because your time is always HIGHLY divided. If you are trying to work that "base" job, plus spend time with your family, then put energy into getting into a job you love something is eventually going to have to suffer.

It's tough. Thanks for your thoughts from living this time in life right now! (glad to hear some opportunities are opening up for the both of you, too!)