Why I Kissed My Career GoodBye
A Spiritual Quest
Years ago I set out on a personal quest, a pilgrimage of sorts, with the goal of re-discovering God. I wanted to see if this faith thing was true, to see if I threw my complete dependence onto Him, he would let me down.
That might seem strange to you. “After all, Jonathan, you’re a pastor,” you say, “aren’t you supposed to have this God-thing figured out?” Maybe. But you might be surprised to discover that my spiritual pilgrimage didn’t necessarily include with it the goal of becoming a pastor. That has become a particular leg of my spiritual journey rather than a result.
So here is a confession that you need to know. When I left my career as a pharmaceutical representative, I lied to everyone (including myself) about my reason. I told them I “wanted” to be a pastor, and I was going to school for it. The truth is far more complicated. Becoming a pastor may have been my vocalized reason, but my heart was searching for something deeper, more authentic.
From Drug Rep to Gospel Rep
After an eight-year stint as a pharmaceutical sales representative, I was spiritually spent. I had climbed the ropes of the pharma industry, achieved great success, and was even eligible for incredible promotions and financial incentives. But on the inside, I was lost and hurting. The God of my childhood seemed distant, and the complications of life were overwhelming.
So I did what any “rational” person would do, I resigned my position and enrolled into seminary full-time (tongue-in-cheek)! Yes, I walked away from a six figure income, corporate benefits, prestige, and stability all in the process of searching for real truth. I kissed my career good bye. Occasionally I have looked back, but never in regret.
My wife, Ivey, was supportive. Deep down she knew that I had to do this. You see, part of my motive was a desire to really live and to stretch my faith. I wanted to experience life and to live it. I mean really live it and find truth, to find God.
So my pilgrimage took me to four different seminaries representing three different protestant traditions: Wesleyan, Baptist, and Reformed/Presbyterian. I encountered all kinds of people from all kinds of theological backgrounds. Some I agreed with. Some I didn’t.
For better or for worse, I tried on different theologies almost like you might try on a pair of shoes. I like this, but I don’t like that. I finally settled on the fact that I was an evangelical with a particular bent towards liturgy. More importantly, however, a sense of the truthfulness of Jesus Christ began to soak into my heart, and I began to see something in Jesus that I never seen before. He was really real!
While attending seminary, I often heard disparaging remarks about certain groups of Christians. Most of the time the comments were made by a few students who were on their own journey, struggling with their own faith backgrounds. For me, I was looking for something reliable, a solid foundation other than what I thought had let me down. Why? Because while I was in college pursing my undergraduate degrees, my faith had been so challenged by certain professors that I nearly lost it. As a necessary reaction, I compartmentalized my faith letting it out only periodically and only in certain settings.
This is why I enrolled into seminary. My faith simply would not remain in the intellectual ghetto I had placed it. Jesus was not content to stay in the polite box I had created for him. He kept challenging my spiritual framework forcing me to come to terms with Him.
At the conclusion of my studies, I discovered something I had longed for but had yet to experience — the God of my childhood was now real.