Many of you have written me kind notes of encouragement since I first shared with you about why my husband is quitting his job. Your emails, comments, (and even some letters!) have been cool water on dry days for us. Today, five days before his last day as a youth pastor, we are encouraged, thankful, and filled with hope.
I have wanted to update you on how things are going as it relates to John’s job and what comes next, but before I do that there is something that has been rolling around in my soul and I’m unable to move forward in writing or in thinking until I find the words to express some thoughts regarding this transition.
Since we announced to our community and to the public that we have made this Very Big Decision to quit our perfectly acceptable job with our perfectly regular paycheck, we are never sure exactly how people are going to respond. But there are some common themes to most of the responses we hear:
You have so much faith.
You are brave.
You are an inspiration.
And every now and then, we also hear what people say behind our back to friends and relatives: What in the world are they going to do?!
I think I love that one the most, because I know that’s really what many are thinking but they worry it will offend us if they say it to our face.
I understand where people are coming from when they say all these things. I’m deeply grateful for the encouragement and don’t want to take away from the genuine and heartfelt support people so kindly offer. But I wanted to take a few moments and point out some of the unspoken assumptions that might hover invisibly over words like “you’re brave” and “you have great faith.”
There is a part of me that gets a little squirmy with the implication that we have faith in greater measure just because we are leaving a job.
It’s true, faith is often required to leave a job.
But faith is also required to stay at a job.
“I’ve never attended a ‘steadfast obedience’ party at work. I’ve never been invited to a ‘staying put’ get-together. I’ve never heard of a ‘sticking around forever’ shindig. And I haven’t for one simple reason: We live in a corporate culture that celebrates people who leave and ignores those who stay.”
Jon Acuff, Quitter
We have to be careful not to point to outward actions as the only implication of an inward reality. You can’t always tell from an outside glance what is happening on the deep level of the soul. Over time, theses realities become clear. But be careful to elevate those who seem to be making noticeable decisions that have obvious impact over those who make small decisions in quiet corners with little noticeable impact at all.
All movement requires faith no matter how big or small it may look on the outside – whether you’re stepping into the unknown or stepping into the same thing as yesterday.
John and I have have been praying for over two years about what might be next for us. For two years, we have quietly waited, listened, and stayed right where we are. During that time, no one said we were brave or had a lot of faith because there was no action to point to as proof. But those years of waiting and listening were necessary for the movement happening right now – the kind of movement people can see.
Maybe your movement is small right now, too. Maybe you watch as others around you seem to be making “big moves” and have “great faith.”
Take heart, friend. The size of your faith isn’t really the point; only the size of your God.
So yes, we are leaving a job. And over the next few days, as kind friends and curious bystanders send us off and say some of these lovely words, John and I will receive them with gratitude and beg God to filter words of praise for us through the person of Jesus who did only what he saw his Father do and said only what he heard his Father say.
May it be so of all of us no matter how big, small, or ordinary our next steps might be.