I remember looking at the situation before me. I was working for a few dollars above minimum wage while wanting to go to seminary. It seemed like I was walking common path of others who had gone before me. The path weaved up the sloop of getting a basic level job where you make enough to get through. This did not appeal to me for the simple reason that I didn’t want to count pennies to make sure I made my budget. I guess I am not that hard core.
Yes, we are not to worry about what we need. The flowers are cared for well and I believe I am of a bit more importance to the Lord than them. God wants us to look at the flowers and be taught. But as we notice the flowers He also wants us to notice the ant crawling down the stem. “Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest” (Pro. 6:7-8). Wisdom fears the Lord, thus trusting in His provision, and then gets to work. So trusting the Lord’s provision I explored the best way to be like the ant.
While exploring another option came open to me. I could take extra time to get a trade skill which I could use to get a good paying job. The benefits of taking this appraoch looked very appealing
- I could have breathing room in my budget. And even more that that I could, gasp(!), actually be saving money while going to seminary.
- This would mean that I would have flexibility with my finances that I could do things which I wanted to do. Like getting married and having babies without shuttering while I looked at my inflow and outflow.
- FREEDOOOOOM!!! (in ministry decisions at least). If I had a trade I could pack-up and move wherever I wanted since I did not have to be dependent on the finances of others. If I wanted to go with a team to church plant I didn’t have to rely on others to give funding. If I wanted to work in a particular church I did not have to wait for them to open a position. I could just show up!
- I would not have to go in debt. Going in debt has the benefit of providing the cash when it is needed. But the cost is long term for the quick infusion of cash. Debts can be wise when the pay off of the loan is going to out weight the long term cost. But for seminary the cost of a loan is heavy. That is because working in a church does not pay a lot of money. This means a loan is going to be a heavier financial burden. With a good paying job, however, a loan would not be a necessity. I could pay my way through and come out the other side debt free.
These points won me over. Looking long term, 5-10 years, getting a trade had a lot of pay off. Even if it ended right after seminary it would have the benefit of giving me stable finances through the program.
Now, I had already spent my four years of college at Boyce Bible College. I don’t regret that decision. I gained a lot through Boyce. But doing that meant that I could not use those four years to get the trade. So I took a break in between my time at Boyce and Southern to pursue a trade.
I can happily report that after a year of schooling I have learned a new trade and working in a job which has me set to fulfill all three points listed above! As the little picture on the side of this blog testifies I went to through a community college here in Louisville. I spent a year pursuing Medical Coding. Now I am working at a hospital doing just that.
If you are thinking of seminary I would advise that you think about this. The points I listed above are great reasons to consider the option. If you already have a trade then use it. But if you don’t I would say consider getting one. Here is how I went about getting mine.
I determined what I needed. I thought about the kind of job I needed which would fit with what I was planning on doing. Some jobs do not fit with school and ministry. So here are the basic points which the job I searched for had to meet:
- It would give me the money I needed. Provision was what I was after. If it would not provide then there was no reason to pursue it.
- It would fit with future ministry. There are great jobs out there but which can demand 50 or 60 hour work weeks. Such a job will not work with either school or bi-vocational ministry. I needed a job which could ride nicely with what else I wanted to do.
- I could see myself doing it for a long time. Basically, I didn’t need a war in my inner man every morning to push myself out the door towards work. I needed something that could be my trade for the next 10 years or longer. I needed a basic enjoyment of the job so that I could do it well.
- Now, one should not take this to the place where people in the world take it. Your job does not need to be your identity. I am not seeking fulfillment in the depth of my soul in what job I do. I simply asked the question, “can I do the job day in and day out with a basic level of enjoyment.”
- It would not take a long time to get. I did not want to take another 4 years to get a job. It needed to be shorter. I was prepared to take up to two years to get an associates in something if I had to.
So with all the pillars set in place I moved forward. I stared out by Googling, “10 top paying jobs with an associate degree.” I took about three different lists which came up and look through each one. I ran each one through the grid above. If it failed one I dropped in and move on. If It seemed to fit I explored it more throughly. That is where I started.
To lend a helping hand let me give you some other places to start your search.
Certifications are a good places to look. Certifications for jobs take less time and less money. If you are looking for something quick but maybe not as much pay (depending upon what you get) you might want to look into it. Here is a list of different jobs in the medical world which want certifications.
There are schools around which offer intense programs for medical jobs. These programs can range from 6 months to little over a year. But you come out the other side with a trade and ready for a job. Here is one in Louisville for medical jobs called ATA.
Also, for those interested in business there are trade schools which focus on apprenticeships.
This one is a two year program in New York, NY called Enstitute :
Another one is called Praxis:
I have not looked into these programs a whole lot. But I wanted to bring them to your attention if you wanted to explore them.
You can also look into your local technical college and see what programs they offer which interests you. As, I said before, I found my local college gave a program in Medical Coding.
Hopefully this helps you start out on the right foot. I don’t know everything it every field so I can’t direct you to exactly what you are looking for. Hopefully this links, if they don’t directly help you, will give you a guide in your search.
Going back to the flower and the ant an important thing I experienced was God’s provision around and through my choice to pursue this job. Now, this is not “God helps those who helps themselves” kind of idea. But God does call us to take responsible actions. To take wise risks and move forward with the aim to glorify Him. And while we do He proves Himself faithful. Not because we earned it. But because He has promised to lead and shepherd us.
If anyone has any question please send them my way.