On Father’s Day of 2009, I visited New Life Church in Colorado Springs, CO to meet with a pastor named Ross. At the time, I was 31 years old and eighteen months into a position as the worship pastor (the guy that oversees music teams) of an 800-member church near Hartford, CT.
Things were going well: we recently added another service to accommodate membership growth, our music team was recording albums, and I was getting invited to speak at conferences.
I reached out to Ross because I was hungry to be mentored by leaders in the same position. He agreed to meet me before his church’s leadership conference. I walked into Ross’s o ce and was stunned. He was at the top of the mountain, both guratively and almost literally: the back windows of his o ce o ered an unobsructed panorama of the Rockies!
We had a great conversation but when I went back to my hotel to process all that happened, I asked myself an innocent question that would forever change the course of my career and life:
“Do I want this guy’s life in fifteen years?”
I was shocked to realize the answer was no. That hit me like a ton of bricks.
Up until my early 30’s all I wanted to do was help a church grow in size and influence. I wanted to write songs, record albums, speak, mentor others, and host conferences.
While I had a modest amount of ability in music, my true skills were in organizational leadership,
so I naturally had a plan: help a church grow while sitting in the “music” seat, then transition into executive leadership as I got older. I was all set, or so I thought.
The Story Behind the Story:
On the surface, my career and life looked great. But I’m going to be honest: I’ve always thought I was the last person that should ever work in a ministry position.
By nature I’m rebellious, contrarian, and opinionated. That’s not always welcome in the world of church leadership. Sure, I loved helping people, but I actually enjoyed speaking, writing, and traveling more. This tension was very difficult for me to reconcile.
I traveled to speak for all of 2012 due to my networking connections, and in January 2013 I landed a marketing position with a nearby educational company. As soon I got that job, I started blogging on the side about what I was doing in my marketing job. That blog attracted readers and paying clients, which was the basis for my consulting practice and brand. It was a whirlwind time, to say the least.
“What am I going to do with my life?”
I hate that question, don’t you? Truthfully, I still don’t know. Maybe, like me, you’ve tried reading books, coaching, praying, and personality tests, all to no avail.
I’m sure you’ve tried the ever-popular “What you would do if you had an in nite amount of money?” trick. My answer: move to Fiji and buy every Transformers toy my parents didn’t get me when I was a kid. Not a very grand life goal.
But if you look closely at what I’ve said about the things I most enjoyed in ministry, it’s obvious that consulting was the perfect t. Speaking, writing, traveling, helping organizations grow, contrarian approaches — in retrospect, it all makes sense.
The key was looking closely, and I never did that until I looked at someone that represented the top of my life’s trajectory. I invite you to do the same.
Take A Closer Look At Yourself By Looking Above You.
Pick someone at the top of your company or industry. Deeply consider his or her lifestyle, income, and if possible, day-to-day schedule. Think about how long it took that person to get there, and what it took to attain that life. Do you want that?
Your manager at work: do you want his life? Your CEO: do you want her life? If you do, at least you know you’re on the right path. If you don’t, why continue?
No, you won’t switch jobs tomorrow. You have bills to pay and a family to care for, but the process of making a pivot starts in your mind today.
Instead of waking up to passion and purpose, most people wake up to an alarm clock. Even then it’s usually one or two hours too early. In my experience, it has often been more helpful to discover what I don’t want, because figuring out what I want to do is much more vague.
Remember, the world is a better place when you’re at your best, doing what you truly love. Keep going!