Last week, I wrote about the first time that I left the perfect job. At the time, I left one perfect job for another one, to serve as Associate Director for InterVarsity’s Emerging Scholars Network. I began working for an organization that I loved, on a cause that I personally believed in, using skills that I both had and enjoyed using. On top of all that, I regularly met fascinating people – for an overly curious generalist like myself, getting to ask academics about their research on a daily basis was like heaven – and got to work with a fantastic team. What could possibly go wrong?
The problem: the position required me to raise the funding for my salary and expenses.
Don’t get me wrong – there’s no problem with fundraising. It’s an important part of nonprofit work, and raising funds from a broad base of support provides stability and demonstrates that people other than the founders believe in the mission. In a ministry context, personal support raising also serves as a test, not only to see whether the mission is worth supporting, but whether the specific individual is the right fit for that mission.
For me, however, fundraising was a constant struggle. I had some success – one year, I raised over $50,000 – but that success was overshadowed by the even larger amount needed to meet my budget — usually $70,000 to $90,000. My supervisors came up with generous and creative ways to supplement my fundraising efforts – matching grants, bridge grants, part time and short term positions that provided additional funding. In the end, though, none of it was quite enough. Continue reading Leaving the Perfect Job – The Second Time
I left the perfect job – twice.
This is a scary post to write because it’s so personal, but it explains a lot about why this blog is so important to me. The first time I left the perfect job, it was because I thought there was a better plan waiting for me (and there was). The second time, I had no plan at all – I just knew I needed to leave. This week, I’m sharing the story of how I left the first perfect job.
Leaving the First Perfect Job
In 2006, I was working for the Cincinnati Better Business Bureau, leading an ethics program for local charities. And I loved it. The people were great, the work was both challenging and fulfilling, and, though I had only worked for the organization for a couple of years, I had received an important promotion that led to an increased role in the organization’s strategic development. It provided the right blend of conceptual (“What does it mean to be an ethical nonprofit?”) and pragmatic (“How can I get more people to participate in our program?”) challenges that I enjoy.
The longer I worked there, though, the more I began to feel there was something missing, something more that I could be doing with my particular skills and passions. At about this time, my wife gave me a copy of Bill Hybel’s Courageous Leadership. One part of the book has stuck with me (here I’m paraphrasing):
If you don’t think God has given you a vision, have you ever asked him for one?
So, for the next 6 months, that was my prayer: Lord, please give me a vision. At the end of that time, I received one. Continue reading Leaving the Perfect Job – The First Time
Earlier this year, my daughter received a small part in a community theater production of The Little Mermaid. A very small part. Remember the seagull who thinks that a fork was a hairbrush? My daughter was one of his backup singers (also a seagull), and she had exactly one line: “Awk!”
She had worked on her audition monologue and song for weeks. Because she was one of the younger kids trying out for the show, I knew that she wouldn’t get a big role. I worried, however, about her reaction when she found out that her line – “Awk! – would take her as much time to memorize as it would to say. Would she be upset? Would she be angry? Would she want to quit the show entirely?
Her reaction? Utter rapture. As soon as she learned about the casting, she began practicing her “Awk!” endlessly – experimenting with different pitches, volumes, levels of screechiness. She was the most enthusiastic backup seagull I had ever seen, approaching every practice and the performances with tremendous excitement. And her energy was contagious. When I picked up her after the show, older kids cheerfully sang out “Awk!” whenever they saw her.
Watching my daughter approach her tiny role with such sheer joy, I began to wonder: Why don’t I have that kind of attitude toward my work? Continue reading Approaching Our Work with Joy