Friday, May 28, 2010

1096; not so much

From 2000 to 2005, I was a courier at FedEx. I ran the same route for all five of those years, the industrial park just north of Oak Park Mall. For four of those five years, I was a student at NTS. The last year, I was working to gather a core group to launch Trinity Family.

I also learned a lot of codes during those five years as a courier; FedEx loves codes. Probably my favorite code was "1096." It was a code we would send to dispatch when we'd finished all of our assigned pickups, the code meant "request clearance." Dispatch would check to make sure we'd gotten all of our stops, then check to see if any routes around us needed help. If everything was clear, they'd approve the request and send us and our freight back to the station.

I can still remember my final 1096, it was hot day in early August. TFC was one week from going public with our worship gatherings and I was quitting FedEx to go full time at TFC. Rather than sending a message to dispatch, I actually got on the radio so all the other couriers could hear. I gleefully called out, "1096 - for the REST OF MY LIFE!"

FedEx was a good company to work for but I was done, I was ready to go full-time in living out God's calling in my life for pastoral ministry. For years, I've claimed I'll never go back, no more bi-vocational ministry, I like doing this thing full-time.

Tuesday was my first day back at FedEx. I've got the same employee number but I'm starting over in seniority. TFC has dipped to the point in which we can no longer pay a full-time salary so I have no choice but to take a second job to support my family. A couple months ago, before I knew I'd be taking an approximately 40% pay cut, we jumped at the chance for Erin to go part-time as a jobshare. My former salary combined with Erin's part-time salary would've been enough to cover our basic needs, but two part-time jobs isn't enough. While I'm doing much better with it than I was when I wrote this post (which I actually buried so it wouldn't be on the front page) I'm still not too excited about working two jobs. I'm not doing my old job of courier, though I'm actually working as a package handler. While being a courier pays more, it also adds a level of stress I'm not able to take into my life at this point. I'm also working a different shift, while a courier starts an evening shift, I'm working from 6 - 9 in the morning. I'm going to have to work Saturdays, which I'm not excited about and will have one day off during the week.

There are however, some clear signs of God's guidance in all of this.
- When you combine the hourly wage, insurance and tuition reimbursement, the pay from FedEx will come within a couple thousand dollars of making up for the reduction in pay from TFC.
- At first, we were bummed Erin had to work every afternoon in her jobshare rather than working every other day. Well, it's sure working out good now.
- My new manager told me on Tuesday that he takes care of us guys with two jobs, he'll do his best to get us out before 9 every morning.
- I've already met some cool new guys and reconnected with old friends/ coworkers.
- The physical labor will be a good boost for my slowing metabolism.
- While working Saturdays will mean I'll never get a weekend, there are some Saturdays open for me to take personal days.
- I found out FedEx can give times of unpaid leave. So while I'm only going to have two weeks of vacation, starting next summer I could take some unpaid leave for some mission trips I'm looking into. More info coming on that, but it would be trips with this group.
- While I was bummed that I had to start working at FedEx while being on vacation from TFC this week, after working on Tuesday I was told my paperwork hadn't come through yet so I couldn't actually start. So I've had the rest of the week off to relax with my family. We've had a low-key week of vacation.

If I had a choice of 1) take a 40% pay cut and become a bi-vocational pastor or 2) continue on full-time at TFC with the same salary, I'd take #2 in a heartbeat. But that's not reality right now, so I'm learning to live out what Paul wrote from prison in Philippians, "... for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength."
And as a side note, that final verse is often taken out of context but the "everything" is referring to having contentment in difficult financial times.

Working a second job while also going to school is going to require some changes in what I do and how I lead. To be honest, I'm not quite sure what those changes will look like yet but I know I've gotta (to quote Nate Warren) find a "new rhythm." I hope to be sharing what those changes will look like at some all-church meetings on June 20th and 27th.


Anonymous said...

A few years ago God led us from an exciting ministry in New York City back to Kansas where I returned to teaching public school after twenty years out of the classroom. We don't always get to choose how He will supply all our needs, but I commend you for walking through the doors that He has opened. Blessings!

Donnie Miller said...

Thanks for reading my blog and for the kind words.
I'd love to hear more of your story and maybe ask you some questions. Would you mind sending me an email?