I received a phone call this summer from one of my mentors that would change our lives. He called to begin conversations about a job opening at my alma mater, Indiana Wesleyan University. They were creating a new position for the Kern Ministry Program, a special ministry education track I went through when I was in college. This program allows students to receive their undergraduate degree in 3 years, their Masters degree in 2 years, with the fifth year coinciding with a residency program at a well-established church. They call it “the future of ministerial education” for a reason. It was legit.
This job opportunity, then, would consist of recruiting to double the Kern Ministry Program, double the School of Theology & Ministry, and pour into pastoral students through one-on-one coaching, teaching their spiritual formation meetings, running their retreats, with a myriad of other teaching, speaking, and preaching opportunities laced throughout the year.
Needless to say, for my age and stage in my career, this was an opportunity of my 26-year-old lifetime
This job description fit my personality to the T. Everything about it resonated with my soul and my skill sets—not to mention the opportunity to work with IWU’s School of Theology & Ministry department. It was so unreal. I got so juiced talking about the possibilities of this role. I apparently didn’t hide my excitement very well, because the night I told my wife, Kasey, about this job opportunity, she knew immediately that we were going to be moving. To Indiana. Twelve hours east of our home in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Little did I know how hard of a waiting season we were about to enter into.
For one, the weight of moving immediately started to press in. I had never done such a massive move before. When I moved to Sioux Falls three years ago, I had enough stuff that could fit in the back of my Ford Fusion. Now, we had two people’s worth of stuff that furnished a 4-bedroom home. Not to mention Kasey hadn’t lived further than an hour away from home, either. This was going to be an even larger move for her.
We were going to uproot our lives for this.
And, if that weren’t complicated enough, if everything moved along accordingly, we would have to be out there by the beginning of the school year on September 1st. We’d have a month to make all this happen.
I continued to have conversations with my mentor throughout the summer about updates, and we went away on our honeymoon to Europe for 2-weeks to get away and clear our minds about the whole situation. During that trip, we came to the conclusion that we would pursue this opportunity. We were confident God was calling us to take the risk, apply, and move forward with this as if it were a done-deal. We knew God was up to something in Marion, Indiana, and we wanted to be a part of it no matter what.
We arrived back in the U.S. on August 4th, and we announced to our church staff about my transition on August 5th, with plans to announce it to our congregation on August 25th. The cat was now out of the bag—even though I still didn’t have the job.
This quickly became the biggest test of my faith I’ve ever had. Here’s why.
I came to find out that there are a ton of moving pieces to creating a new position at a university. There were a variety of meetings to approve grants, create the position, get the application online, ensure the insurance packages are covered, and a myriad of other details that completely go over my head. All of this stuff is standard procedure for creating any new position in any institution—the only difference is I was playing the waiting game through it all. Each timeline for the application being posted or an interview is being scheduled kept being delayed. It was the end of August, and we have our house on the market, Kasey is preparing to resign from her job, and now our whole church knew about me transitioning into a role I wasn’t entirely sure I was going to get. My last day in the office was September 5th.
See what I mean?
As the waiting stretched into September, I started to doubt everything about what we were getting ourselves into. Am I really fit for this? Are we actually suppose to do this? Moving across the country is terrifying—especially when I’m not even certain about my job security. Shouldn’t we just stay? Why in the world would I leave a church like The Ransom? Am I ready to give up my title as “Pastor” to be a “Chief Recruiting Officer” at a university? What if we changed around my job description to get me to stay? What if Kasey kept her work and we let things continue on as normal? I was looking for any and every reason to pull the plug on this thing. It was getting too hard to handle. I broke down several times. It awful.
My Lead Pastor, Phill Tague, reminded me, though, that we automatically start creating stories whenever we’re forced to wait. In the flurry of my doubts, he and our Executive Pastor, Cody Tupps, reassured me that I was made for this role, and that they weren’t going to be the scapegoat for me running away from what I was being called to do. They believed in me that much.
That’s the power of community.
Throughout the waiting, doubts, and anxiety, Kasey and I were surrounded by so many friends who encouraged us every step of the way. My accountability partners, Paul and Nate, said the job was perfect for me after the first time I described it to them. Our church staff was so excited for us, my core Team Leaders were beyond thrilled for us, and congregants from all across our church campuses encouraged us that this is an amazing opportunity and how we’re called to be out there. My family was obviously stoked at the thought of us coming back to Indiana, but even Kasey’s family was excited for us despite her moving 12 hours away. Then there was my Life Group and closest friends in Sioux Falls, as pictured above, who threw me a surprise Going Away Breakfast Party the Tuesday before we left. It was the perfect final gathering to see everyone before we parted ways. Not to mention my wife, who knew from day 1 that this was what we were suppose to do, and reminded me of that every time I questioned everything.
If I were left alone in this waiting season, I would’ve bailed out. Easily. The unknowns were unbearable, and the demons inside my head were filling me with lies to convince me I shouldn’t do this. But there wasn’t one person who told me to give up on this.
We need friends in the waiting. They’ll speak the truth to combat the lies, give us the laughs to ease the anxiety, and provide the company to vanquish the loneliness. I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this in our new apartment in Marion, Indiana on the morning of my first day at my new job without them.
We miss you, Jake! But you’ll do a terrific job there! They are lucky to have you!