I graduated from seminary with my Masters in Divinity two weeks ago. So of course, the first obvious question is: what am I actually going to do post graduation? That's such a great question and one that I have been asked repeatedly for about the last month, hence this blog post. This is my attempt to let everyone know what exactly I will be up to for the next few months or more.
I do have something lined up for the summer. Starting next Monday, June 8th, I will be starting a unit of what is referred to as Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE). This is one of the last remaining requirements I have left for my ordination process and will be 10 weeks of intensive clinical self-examination and peer group meetings. Most people do their CPE units at a hospital. I'm taking a different route, however, and will be doing mine with the SF Night Ministry doing street chaplaincy with the homeless. This is a population that I am excited to work with and a population that I feel called to work with. I'm looking forward to reaching out to them and being a helping, pastoral presence in their lives. The unit will include leading Bible Studies, walking the streets at night and being a crisis line volunteer. There's a lot of other logistics of it that I still don't entirely know yet so I am looking forward to learning more about it this coming Monday when we have orientation. The only part I don't like is that CPE doesn't pay anything at all so I'm going to be living off what is left from my student loans this past semester. Money is going to be really tight for me this summer which is not ideal but I'm going to make it work. I've arranged to continue living on campus through the summer and have already moved into a cheaper apartment on campus that will save me some money.
As for what's after the summer? That's still being figured out. Over the last few months, I've come to realise that I really want to stay in the Bay Area for a little while longer. My heart is here. My friends are here. My life is here so why leave? So, I've determined that I'm going to stay here and make it work for at least another year. Come next August, I'm going to re-assess and decide if I still feel called to stay here or if it is time for me to move on to a new adventure. I don't really see myself settling down anywhere for very long. I'm fortunate in that I have the freedom to do that. I don't have a mortgage, a partner or kids so I'm very open to going wherever I might feel called to go next. For right now, that's the Bay Area. The cost of living here is ridiculous and that is the part that is going to be the most difficult factor. Yet, I'm resourceful and can live on very little so I just have to be smart about it and I can make it work.
So, what about jobs? You might think that since I have a Masters in Divinity now that I would be looking for church jobs. Well, you would be wrong. I've been realising that I really have been feeling burned out on church work, actually. It's really the only kind of work I've done and I think it would be good for me to experience other types of work before I commit myself fully to it. I'm really interested in trying something in the non-profit sector. I've never worked for a non-profit before and think it would be good for me to have some experience in that realm. I'm also looking at different types of chaplaincy positions because it wouldn't hurt to have that experience under my belt either. What I've realised about myself is that I love preaching. I love writing liturgy and crafting worship services. But I don't really love all the other aspects of church work. I think I'd be fine with doing something along the lines of guest preaching occasionally on a Sunday morning. That way, I get to do the preaching and liturgy writing that I love without all the other aspects of ministry that I don't.
As for ordination, I'm still deciding if that is something I still want to pursue. I've come to realise that for me, it isn't the most important thing anymore. I don't have to have it to lead a successful, happy life. I'm going to be just fine if I never get ordained. I really will be. So, while I do plan on finishing up all the requirements for ordination, I can't say for sure that I'm going to actually get ordained. I just don't feel ready at the age of 30 to make such a major life decision, particularly one that stays with me for the rest of my life. If I get to the age of 40 and still want it, it will still be there for me.
Ultimately, what I've realised is that I just want to be happy and be able to support myself. As long as both those criteria are fulfilled, I'm going to be just fine. I sincerely believe that a person is not their job. A person is a person and they just happen to have a job. So, whether I'm working at Starbucks or pastoring a church or working for a non-profit, I'm going to be just fine regardless because I'm still me, not the job. I think we tend to lose sight of that fact nowadays. I've got some promising job leads that I'm going to be pursuing over the course of the summer but even if I end up working at Barnes and Noble, that doesn't make me a failure or doesn't mean that I wasted the last four years of my life. I'm still a success. I'm still a person. I still have value. That's what I have come to realise over the course of the last few months.
So, that's where things stand now. I've got housing and a job lined up for the summer and I'm going to be vigorously pursuing other jobs for the fall and other housing options. Here's hoping it all goes well and I get to stay here in the Bay Area for at least another year.