It’s hard to believe but I have been a pastor at The Well for about nine years now. In those years, I’ve served at The Well on a part-time-paid basis. This has been an intentional model for us as it allows our church to have a more diverse staff and leadership. This has served us very well as our other part-timer, the one and only Gary Alloway, complements my gifts really well. I can truly say that being “bi-occupational” has been a great asset to the mission of our church community.
(By the way, I use the term “bi-occupational” instead of “bi-vocational” because I believe that my vocation as a Christian is “witness.” What I do for pay does not change my vocation. My vocation is witness, my job is pastor. Your vocation is witness, your job is… well whatever you do for a living).
The bi-occupational approach to church leadership sounds pretty sexy to a lot of people these days. And, while I am a believer in it, I’ll be the first to admit that it isn’t always easy. The biggest challenge is finding another job/career that can support your family and still make it possible for you to serve your church well.
In these last nine years, I’ve worked at UPS, Starbucks and for the last three years I have been a freelance web designer/developer. I’ll be honest, UPS was a terrible job. I worked midnights there and it was probably one of the darkest times of my life for a few different reason that I won’t get into. Starbucks was a great experience and web designing has been pretty awesome because it has given me an extremely flexible schedule and I love the work.
I am not sure if it’s the “economy” or what but I have not been getting enough design work lately to complement my salary at The Well (which, by the way, is a good part-time salary. They take care us well). So, over the last few weeks my wife and I have been talking about what to do. And it looks like God is leading me back to work at Starbucks part-time.
I’ll still be doing some design work, but now I’ll have less pressure to make so many sales each month. My hope is to find one or two steady clients that I can concentrate on serving and sell some of my template sites that don’t require a lot of set up work.
Starbucks will then be a good base for us to work from each month, especially as the benefits kick in after a few months.
I’ll be honest, this was a very hard decision to come to for many reasons.
First, I lose some of the flexibility of my schedule. Thankfully, I’ll have set hours (only mornings) and will be able to plan my weeks in advance. But, I lose a lot of the freedom that I get from being my own boss. This freedom is nice, but I understand that the freedom that I’ve had for the past three years is pretty unique so I am willing to part with it for the time being to care for the needs of my family.
The second reason it was hard honestly revolved around my ego. On some level it feels like a giant step backwards to head back to the Starbucks world. This is not meant as a slight on Starbucks my any means, I wouldn’t be going back there if I didn’t have a high respect for the company. Being totally honest here, as a pastor of a growing church that is doings some incredible ministry, its easy to fall into the trap of thinking that I am too big of a deal or too important to work as a barista at Starbucks. I’m not really sure how cool it is to show up at pastors conferences and say that you are only paid part-time at your church and you spend your mornings steaming milk. But, when it comes down to it, my family is more important that my ego and, well, if my ego really suffers from this job then maybe my ego needs to be put in its place!
While there are some things that made taking this job hard, there are some very appealing aspects to it.
First of all, I finally get to use my college degree. You see, i got a degree from PBU which Gary and I have recently dubbed “Pre-Barista University.” This is because I have so many friends who have graduated from PBU (Philadelphia Biblical University) end up working at Sbux. Now I get to tell this joke more often! 🙂
Second, and more seriously, I can’t think of a better connection point to the local community. Starbucks really is a third place. That isn’t just a cliche that they come up with as some marketing jargon. I remember when I ended my employment the first time I worked there I thought to myself, “I could probably start a church with 25 non-christians from my relationships at this store.” No, it’s not because I was preaching all the time (Starbucks is not the place for that and I make great efforts to respect the environment they have there). Rather, it was because I built so many actual friendships with both customers and partners that extended beyond the counter and into the real world. I have dreams of someday seeing The Well plant a church in the area I live so this is a great way for me to get connected to my local community.
Third, Starbucks is just a great company to work for. The workplace is business-like but its also filled with great people. As a pastor, I need a second job that is not going to wear me out emotionally. Starbucks is just that: enjoyable.
Finally, I need the extra cash. By working at Starbucks I can decline the health benefits at the church and essentially give myself a quick raise in that check in addition to the hourly wages from my time at Starbucks.
So here we go. Back to Starbucks. I’m honestly very at peace about the decision. I start tomorrow morning and I’ve committed to being there for at least a year so if you are ever in my area, stop by and you’ll get to best latte you can find in the area…