When I was 25, I wrote some notes in my journal pertaining to my career goals. By the time I turned 35, I wanted to make at least $100K per year. I wanted to own a free-standing house and I wanted to have taken Becky to London and done touristy things in the UK. I’m less than five years away from turning 35. I used to own a townhouse. Now, I rent a duplex and am no where near owning a free-standing home. I am still several substantial raises away from making $100K and literally about a day before I booked a trip to visit Stratford upon Avon and a bunch of other Shakespearean sites, I was called into my boss’ office and informed Becky and I (and many of our close friends) would be losing our jobs in 120 days. Plans canceled.
I did go to Europe once…Leipzig, Germany…on a business trip…and it rained the whole time I was there.
Sometimes, it is really easy to get bummed out at how little I have accomplished in the business world. I don’t crave money for the sake of money. Financially speaking, sure it would be nice to have a touch more margin, but I’m able to live a very happy, relatively worry-free life. I talk about money and making income goals only because they relate to accomplishments and titles earned. Salary can be a yardstick for your value as an employee, and frankly, I am not as valuable as I would like to be.
In less than a week, I start my fourth (of seven) MBA course, and in less than a year, I will be complete with the program. I’ll have a Master’s Degree. And so what? Or maybe the question should be, then what? As I reflect on my failure, the reality is that I have also been part of some cool stuff since I was 25 and made those goals.
The year I turned 25, Bryan left .HEREtoday. and we made a go at having Jon fill in on drums. While this turned out some cool musical stuff, it turned out that administratively, Bryan was the heart of the band, and as many church leaders have found, if you have just a creative heart but no administrative heart, you start to fall apart. In the wake of .HEREtoday.’s slow and sometimes painful destruction, a phoenix by the name of Sweet Old Etc. emerged, and boy was it sweet. Now that band has been destroyed by geography.
In the church world, which is where many of you readers know me from, I have been a part of three different churches and fairly well respected at each of them (man, that sounds super cocky, sorry). I have been able to walk alongside people in good and bad times. I have been able to explore God’s word with them and I’ve been able to pour my heart into music with them. I’ve sat in on painful meetings, cried as friends and mentors confessed, grit my teeth in frustration while staying resolute on hope, and clapped, smiled, and laughed more times that I can count.
Somewhere in there, I even applied for a job at a church and went through a grueling interview process, only to decide it wasn’t from me…which led to several nights of terrible heartburn and self-questioning.
I have wrestled a lot with my role in ministry for the last five years, and that wrestling has made me a man of God, whereas I used to be just a boy. I still have a million miles to go insofar as growth is concerned, but I AM growing.
I’ve had 2 kids, adopted 2 dogs, made a whole lot of friends…and perhaps a few non-fans (I doubt I have any “enemies”). I’ve weathered some very hard times in marriage only to emerge now completely in love with a woman who once told me on a couch in Randolph Hall that she would watch movies (even bad ones that I love, like Ski Patrol) with me forever but we could never date.
I had lunch with a very successful friend, today, which prompted this very long blog. As I left his very cool office (at which I really, really wish I worked), I was doubting myself a little bit. I felt (feel?) bummed that I have not made the impact I thought I was capable of when I was 25 in my career. But as I sat drinking coffee after lunch, it occurred to me that my very successful friend is happy not because of his money but because he knows he’s making an impact in peoples’ lives for the right causes. And then it occurred to me that I’m doing that, too. So, maybe I should rewrite my goals for the next five years.
Instead of basing them on money, perhaps I should base them on relationships and how those relationships are growing. Who am I mentoring? There are a few people I know I am on this path with right now. Who am I peers with and driving forward alongside? I think Josh and Scott and Kenny are certainly on that list. Who is mentoring me? Well, while I crave a mentor, I haven’t really had one since Fredericksburg…and well, I need to do something about that.
To answer the “Then What?” question is going to be fun….
Well, I still really want to take Becky to do Shakespearean things in England. That’s staying on the list.