I sat down in an empty church office and asked myself, What in the world am I going to do? It was June 18, 2012 and I had no real idea what a pastor did 40 hours a week! Five years later, I now have no idea how to fit it all into 40 hours (or 60!).
In these five years, I’ve learned a lot about being a Pastor and specifically serving Cornerstone Bible Church in Terre Haute, IN. As I think, though, these are some of the same lessons I’ve learned every time I’ve worked 4 years at a job. I think there is a ton of value investing time over the long haul in one job. I want to share that with you now.
5 Lessons you may only learn after working 4+ years at a job
- Your greatest value as a worker can sometimes only come after years of learning the job.
- My first job was throwing papers for the Greenville Daily Advocate. Come rain, snow, storm, or shine I hauled papers to over a hundred customers 6 days a week. Starting at age 12 and finishing 4 years later I learned a lot at this job.
- Like any smart newspaper delivery boy I made sure to wait to quit until right after Christmas. The tips I made every Christmas were often more than I made throughout the entire year from the newspaper. My tips were related to how I did at my job and how I related to my customers. So, it was only after 4 years a the job that I really learned what I needed to do to excel. I really raked it in that last year. 🙂
- You only get to certain skill levels over years at a job.
- My career at McDonalds started at 15. I still my first day at work I got so sick I went home and didnt recover for a week. Thankfully, things improved and I ended up putting 6 years in at Greenville North McDonalds.
- McDonalds taught me how to lead and teach people. I was never a manager (I finished as a Crew Chief) but I frequently was in positions of leadership. In those places I had to learn to lead by influence and not power. I had to learn to suggest changes that made sense instead of demanding them. (This has really carried over into ministry.) It was only after putting time in learning my job that I had the authority to suggest how other people might do theirs.
- You make more money not changing jobs.
- Summers in college were filled at Wasson Nursery. I worked 4 years spreading mulch, planting trees, and raking rocks. I still remember raking rocks with a friend. As we spread the rocks we said Study harder! Study harder! We knew we didnt want to do this over the long long haul.
- As much as I didnt spend a lifetime as a landscaper, putting 4 years there were valuable. I made a lot by not constantly switching jobs and I was able to pay for a lot of my school year expenses because of the work I did over the summer.
- You get to witness more after years of time invested
- One day in 2009 I realized I spent more time with guys who drank, smoked and went to strip clubs than I did with my own wife. Dont worry, I didnt drink, smoke or go clubbing, it was just the time I worked with them that made the difference. At this time I was 2 years into a 5 1/2 year career at UPS. I have never since or before spent so much time with people so different than me.
- It was only because I worked day in and out with my coworkers that I had the chance to talk about God with them. It was only over years spent enduring 100+ temps in semi-trailers that we earned each others respect. Through that earned respect I shared my faith in ways I cant anymore.
- You get to your optimum effectiveness
- 4 years ago I had no idea what a Hautean was. I had no clue how long I would spend waiting on trains. I didnt understand the culture of Cornerstone Bible Church. I knew what church looked like in Union City, Marion and Mesquite, but not Terre Haute. Consequently Ive tried a lot of ideas and failed with many of them. Regardless, I am so excited about the future here!
- I believe precisely because I’ve seen what hasn’t worked here that I understand better what will work. Only because Ive spent 4 years getting to know Cornerstone people that I can start to lead our church in a way that will serve them. I truly think I am at a point of effectiveness in a job that I have never been at in my life.
- You see, every other job I’ve left because of life changes. The job wasn’t the main thing I was focusing on, school was. With my job as a pastor I can take the first 4 years experience and pour that knowledge into the next 4 years.
- This summer our elder team is taking a look at the future of Cornerstone and I am convinced that the result will be awesome! We will be taking our collective and knowledge of Cornerstone and mapping out a future based on what we know of the past. We only have the ability and authority to map out this future because weve invested years serving and living in this church.
There you have it, 5 benefits you get from a job as you put years of time in it. Now, I totally get that you will leave jobs for a lot of good reasons in less time than 4 years. That said, I would encourage you to consider that staying longer has a lot of benefits.
I also recognize that 5 years is nothing compared to 35 or 45 years. I simply want to write this today to encourage you, if you are thinking of quitting. Consider the benefits of staying long.