A couple of days ago, I posted about an experience Liz and I had speaking at a church back in the 1990s. In addition to travelling to churches to talk about campus ministry, because we were generally free on Sundays, we had many opportunities to fill in at churches when the pastor was away. 

One Sunday, I travelled to a church and spoke even though the pastor was there. We left, and I don’t remember much about the day (other than the sanctuary being quite dark). I didn’t think about the place again until the following Saturday. Liz’s sister and brother-in-law were up visiting, and we were heading to Saratoga for the day. (For music, not the horses:)

As we were getting ready to leave, the phone rang, and it was the pastor from the church I had spoken at the previous week. It turns out the reason I was invited to preach was that it was a kind of job interview…which I passed. 

He spoke to my senior pastor and then called to offer me a staff position at his church. 

That was flattering, but not something I was interested in. I tried to get out of it gracefully by saying I was already committed to university ministry. He replied that he would be willing to let me do both.

So here was the role he described for me: 

  • I would teach at the Sunday night service, 
  • I would teach at the Wednesday night service
  • And I would preach on 1 or 2 Sunday mornings each month

(If you are counting at home, that would be 9-10 messages each month). 

Plus, there would be other duties as they came up.

Then he informed me that he couldn’t pay me, but it would be good experience for me.

I didn’t ask, but I did wonder what he was going to be doing. 

I thanked him for the offer and told him I already had a ministry role that I didn’t get paid for, so I couldn’t consider a second. 

And a related story.

Later that day, while walking around Saratoga, my brother-in-law and I each found money on the sidewalk. I found $80; he found over $100. (It was racing season, so a couple of punters clearly lost their gambling/drinking money.)

$80 was more than I would have made at my new job. Of course, on the roller coaster ride that is my life, I got my first speeding ticket on the drive up to Saratoga.  Although somehow, my sister-in-law got the officer to reduce to “failure to obey a sign”. 

But anyway, there went my $80. 

Photo by Giorgio Trovato on Unsplash