Job hunting in the "real world" is way different than job hunting as a pastor.
From my first ministry at my home church to my last ministry, I have had six ministry positions. I believe that besides one of them, I was the first choice in each church search.
When you are looking for a ministry position, you usually start with sending your resume and perhaps a cover letter. Then, if the church likes what they see, usually either the senior minister or the head elder will call and do an introductory interview. Then if that works out, they will most likely bring you to the church. And then you will have some kind of another interview with staff or perhaps the leadership team, and then depending on what position you are applying for, you may have to lead worship for a Sunday morning, or teach and get to know students (those were the two positions I was a minister of: worship and students). Then there is usually a pretty long wait as the leadership talk about you, seemingly for months. And then they'll offer you the position and you move and start getting settled in.
It's totally different in the real world.
First, when you send in your resume and your cover letter, there's pretty much a guarantee that about 75 percent of the jobs you apply for will not even contact you back.
The cover letter is pretty tricky for a minister. How do you translate your experience as a pastor into experience in the business world?
I remember when I came back to the midwest after a brief stint in my home state, I applied for some position and the guy interviewing me told me that he went to church and so he framed the questions in such a way that I could answer them in the correct fashion but using my experience.
That was the only one.
When I decided to step away from ministry, I first started looking at non-profits. I wanted to stay in the area for my family, so I wasn't really looking anywhere else besides within an hour driving distance. There was one I was really interested in, and I thought I got it, but I got second place. Whomp whomp.
After rejection email after rejection email and scam after scam (you know, those that claim to be marketing positions or whatever and then you interview and you find out it's a pyramid scheme), I decided to apply for a part-time position working third shift at a grocery store (so I could also focus on getting a full-time career type job). Which I have. I have been working for three weeks, and it's not as bad as I thought it would be. The pay isn't great, but I listen to music and make sure the shelves in my department look good. Not really what I was doing a year ago, but at least it was helping out a little financially.
And then I also applied for a full-time post office position, and apparently I got that job (still waiting to hear from HR). So on one hand, I'm relieved because it looks like for now that my job search has ended. What a stressful time, you know? But on the other hand, what I'm doing is so different from what I have done for twenty odd years.
But I'm trying to keep a positive attitude about it. For one, I can do my work and when I clock out, I don't have to think about that job at all. I can focus on other things.
(Although now when I go to any store and I see a cluttered or messy shelf, it takes everything within me to not organize it.)
Secondly, I just follow orders. I follow rules. I don't have to come up with things, I don't have to lead other people (although I may eventually), I can just be me really. There's a freedom. Even though I'm not certainly not making as much, I don't have to worry about the church world anymore.
I've also had more conversations with regular people than I have in a really long time. But that's for another blog post. For now, let me end with the fact that ministers really don't understand for the most part how the real world works and I think for every single one, if they decide to leave ministry and do something else, there is a steep learning curve. I think my curve is over. Although I haven't started my full-time job and the lady interviewing me didn't really sell me on it (neither did other people who work or worked for the USPS). But I have a feeling I will be just fine.