I’m on the market, the job market, that is. It’s a new experience for me this time around. There’s no system set-up to circulate my resume to every available non-profit job in the area. If I were applying for a church job in my denomination, I could look at a big long list of open positions and tell those who coordinate such searches to send my ‘stuff’ in. There’s not a big long list of open positions in Asheville’s non-profit world. Most of the time, even when something is open, it’s not posted anywhere. You have to know someone or be connected somehow.
On the positive side, some of the folks we know here are connected in significant ways. On the negative side, it’s simply rare to find an open position. In the last couple of weeks, through the before-mentioned connections, I was told about an open position with a non-profit here that works mostly as an alternative to incarceration for men and women whose offenses or crimes allow for lesser sentencing. Unlike the prison system, this organization does believe rehabilitation is possible. Nothing easy about their work, but they’ve been doing it well for a long time here. It would be a meaningful and worthwhile place to work, every bit of it God’s work. The work of salvation, even. Supporting and helping men (in this particular position) save themselves, to imagine a new and whole future for their lives. Not easy, not romantic work. Jesus’ footsteps are all over it.
I had an “initial” phone conversation yesterday with the guy handling the search for the open position. It’s an entry-level position, one that I could have applied for 10 years ago and had a shot at getting. And so I’ve struggled with my well-taught and absorbed ideas about “going backwards” or “settling” for something less than what I’m capable of. The guy I talked to yesterday even flat-out asked me why I was applying for an entry-level position. I suspect it’s likely I won’t be asked for an in-person interview. But even if I’m not, the process of the last several days has invited me to ask important and hard questions of myself.
What does entry-level mean, anyway? How important is going “up”? The organization could not function without this position. It’s the on the streets, in the courtroom work essential for it all to hold together. Do I want to be an E.D. someday (assuming I stay in the non-profit world)? You bet. But I’ll be a lot better at it if I’ve started on the ground, out in the streets. Romans and 1 Corinthians both talk about gifts, about each of God’s people being given unique qualities and skills to build the body of Christ. I’ve assumed for years that mine could only be used best on the pulpit side of life. Entry level somewhere else could just be an opportunity for me to begin to build in a different way, a new way, and yet still a part of the ever-expanding body of Christ that reaches into the pulpit and far, far beyond.
And it’s Veterans’ Day. I’ve thought about my dad, who gets a distant look in his eyes when he’s asked about Vietnam and who has spent his career always being involved in ROTC. I’ve thought about my uncle, who cannot stay in the room when Vietnam is mentioned and carries more brokenness from combat than I can begin to imagine. And then I’ve thought about the young men and women I know who serve now, each of them serving in different ways and in different places, but all extraordinary human beings who are giving their daily lives now in our country’s military.
I’m a pacifist. I want our military to lay down all of its weapons and turn them into plowshares and pruning hooks. It’s also true that I am grateful for each of those I know who have served, and for the millions I don’t know. Today I’ve remembered the names I know, and trust God knows all the others. And I pray for peace in all corners of the fragile, beautiful world that holds us all.