I’ve mentioned before that my first job, after babysitting, was washing windows for 50 cents/hour. I then moved on to delivering flowers, and then working in a hardware store, then being a tour guide for the college, then working in the library, working as a youth pastor, and then probably the pinnacle was making donuts at Lone Star Donuts. That’s another story.
When I graduated from seminary in 1981, I was appointed to a church, and that began my career as an ordained minister. Being a pastor in the United Methodist Church meant I was pretty well guaranteed a job, so long as I didn’t do something to make myself un-appointable. In 2009, for a couple of years, I had a job at one of our General boards in Nashville. That was the first, and only time that I had to actually create a resume. Otherwise, ever so often, I would move from church to church, or especially the last 20 years, I had leadership positions at part of the conference staff.
When I retired last July, I left behind the conference work. Actually, I left behind just about all work, except what I enjoyed doing, like writing curriculum. After 8 months, however, and with it looking like the pandemic may soon be knocked back on its heels, I began to think it might be interesting to explore some kind of job path. I didn’t see it as starting a new career, and financially and other ways, we are doing fine. It’s just that I have been wondering how what I did for more than 40 years – outside of making donuts – might translate into a secular job.
So, I looked around on the online job search sites. My immediate trouble was that since I didn’t want to do the work of a pastor, I needed to figure out, frankly what I was good for! You see, no one ever tells you that, working as a pastor means that you have training or expertise in anything other than working in a church. So, when I tried on different words to describe what I did and can do, I used, “teacher,” “manager,” “trainer,” and those types of things. When you punch in those words on the job search sites, however, you get “Assistant Dean of Crop Sciences,” or “assistant manager” of any number of restaurants, or even “Sales Manager at Payless Shoes.” Now, I’m sure all of those jobs, and more, are very good jobs, probably – they just weren’t the jobs I had set my heart on, partly because I haven’t set my heart on any job right yet, but I do know that the food industry and shoe sale – and Crop Sciences – are not quite what I am cut out to do.
Granted, I could teach English to little Chinese children in Shanghai, but I’m not sure I want to relocate especially to China right now. And it’s a long commute. So, after fiddling around for a couple of months, I decided to check out a place here in town that offered, “employment solutions.” Actually, I think the solutions were for the businesses or companies, but the deal is, they take your information as a possible employee, and then to the tune from “Fiddler on the Roof,” you hear, “Matchmaker, Matchmaker, make me a match…”
So, this last Monday, I went on their website and entered some basic information, and within the hour, they responded and asked if they could give me a call. Within two more hours, the person I worked with sent me the link and instructions of how to apply.
When I pulled it up, there in the middle of everything was a space to upload my resume. I sat there for a few minutes, because although I had done a resume years before in anticipation of taking on the general church job, I calculated it was perhaps five or six computers ago… I knew we had a few different stand alone backup hard drives, but I had no idea which one might hold the now ancient resume. I did remember that in the small pseudo-office downstairs, we still had the very old computer that we purchased, I think, in 2010. I think it was one of those wood-fired models, that weighed a few hundred pounds.
I started up the beast, and after about an hour, it was all loaded and seemed to be running fine. I searched through the files, and sure enough, there it was – “Randy’s resume.” I sent it to my email, and after the better part of another hour, it actually completed the process, and I went upstairs, retrieved the email on my office computer, and went to work.
It was a bit weird to look at a resume that ended when I was twelve years younger. It was great to not have to rebuild my work life from the beginning, but it was odd to try to think about what I had done since 2009. I also realized that the resume had more information than anyone really needed to know, especially now. I mean, did a potential employer really want to know that in 1983, I was on the Journal committee for the Annual Conference? Probably not…
So, I whittled away with my electronic delete button, and then added the pertinent “new” stuff, and when it looked ready, I uploaded it and sent it on. Then the strangest thing happened: the system for the employment solutions folks reviewed my resume, and made me walk through it amending and editing it. They didn’t want my work history since 1981, even though I had some great successes and good experiences. They limited me to only four work spots, so I hacked and slashed more than half my life, until it was satisfied and accepted my slim and trim resume history.
After that, as they say, it was off to the races. I got an email the next day, asking if I had time for a phone call about a possible position. The next day! We chatted, and it sounded like a pretty good job. Only trouble was, it was 50 miles away, so that would mean a 100 mile commute daily to get there. After spending the last 20 years driving about 30,000-50,000 miles per year, it was what I called a “non-starter,” having to drive over 25,000 just to get to work. In January. In the dark, through the countryside. With snow falling. As they say, “Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt.” No problem – they will keep looking for me.
It’s a very strange chapter, to hunt at my age for a job. Maybe it won’t work out, but it’s nice to experiment and see if perhaps my experience and training makes me at all valuable for somebody’s “employment solutions.” In any case, I am again trying to intentional about my future, whatever it holds. Instead of throwing something against the wall and seeing it if sticks, by accident, I instead intend to at least explore what’s ahead. That’s the role each of us is called to play. It may not be employment, or moving or whatever else, but when we peer into the unknown yet-to-be, it should always be with some sort of plan, some sense of excitement and adventure, and with hope. Hope is pure intention. I hope for you a great day…
Word for the day: cacology. Pronounced ka-CALL-uh-gee. It sounds like, and is from the Greek – two separate words smushed together. Kako, meaning “bad” and logy, meaning “study, or speech.” For this term, we need to see logy as speech, because the definition is “defective speech,” or “socially unacceptable diction.” It could also mean “bad choice of words,” but it sounds less like what you say, and more “how” you say it. I took a voice and diction class in college, and it has forever stuck with me. The word “often” for instance always has a silent f. In the US, the word “toward” is more accepted than “towards” -- and you never pronounce the “w.” And always remember the subjunctive tense: not “I wish I was,” but “I wish I were…” Unfortunately, many of us who are English speakers fall short in proper diction and pronunciation. It ain’t pretty…
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.