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    First Seven Jobs

    The #firstsevenjobs hashtag emerged several weeks ago on Twitter. The Atlantic wrote about it. I enjoyed it. I have had fourteen jobs that I can count. I have probably had more.

    Here is Arnold Schwarzenegger’s list:

    Bill Shakespeare:

    Buzz Aldrin:

    My list:

    1. Lawn Care Worker
    2. Retail Clerk
    3. Day Camp Counselor
    4. Grocery Warehouse Worker (Pallet-Man)
    5. Youth Ministry Intern/Interim Youth Pastor
    6. Student Aide - Department of Religion
    7. Children’s Ministry Intern

    Since then I have worked as an associate children’s minister, a barista, a youth pastor, a writer, a lawn care worker, and as a youth and college pastor. Now I am back to being a writer.

    Jeff Sharlet asked a question (serious or not, I cannot tell), as to whether or not #firstsevenjobs was a middle class thing where people claimed “Horatio Alger cred” prior to having “made good” in later occupations. That could be the case, I guess.

    But I took it as a narrative that tells us not everyone ends up where they began, and many people share similar beginnings. Many of us worked the same summer jobs. Someone kindly gave us a shot and helped us learn what it means to work.

    In one of my first job interviews I told a Best Buy manager that I wanted to work in the warehouse because I preferred being behind the scenes and didn't really enjoy working with people. After that answer, the interview quickly drew to a close and I never received a call back. I wonder why.

    I learned from that experience.

    I learned a little about working hard while sweating under the sun and cuttin’ grass, and I learned a great deal about good (and bad) management while working for Service Merchandise. My earliest experiences in ministry taught me about myself (I have been given some gifts and possess very real limits), but also about the basic nuts and bolts involved in good systems work and in developing personal relationships with people that are defined by love. I learned this through successes and failures. I have made a lot of mistakes.

    I think I am still learning a lot about work. And I am still searching for the right “job,” whatever that might mean.

    For now I am working on becoming the kind of person who will bless others, always. I won't be idle while doing so. I do have goals. We are a two vocation household and there is a way of being married, given that consideration, that we are still in the process of figuring out. Molly and I want to be responsible and generous wherever we may find ourselves in ministry.

    Have thoughts on work? An odd job or anecdote? Leave a comment.


    Read Along: New Project Available Monday


    This coming Monday my latest project will be available online. First United Methodist Church of Mansfield, Texas will feature my writings for their Daily First 15, a devotional resource for all people. I really enjoyed writing the entries and took up the task prayerfully.

    First Mansfield begins a six week series of sermons this weekend called "Family Meeting." They will reflect upon their mission, refocus on their values, and align their energies as they move forward into the future. That is a very wise thing to do. I am very thankful Pastor David Alexander gave me the opportunity to write and encourage his congregation as they seek God's next step for their community.

    God works through broken vessels; he also calls churches to greater faithfulness, health, and fruitfulness. My hope is that these next several weeks at Mansfield will be a pivotal moment in their church's rich history, and their people will make commitments that will continue to make a difference for generations to come.

    The devotional entries will follow themes being presented through sermons and in small group settings, but they are accessible to a broader audience. If you would like to follow along please visit the church's website and click the subscribe button in the upper right. The devotional publishes six days a week--Monday through Saturday. My entries will begin on Monday, September 12 and will wrap up on Saturday, October 22.

    Hope you will read along. I hope the entries will help. If so, let me know and feel free to share.




    Follow Up on the Execution of Jeff Wood

    On August 17, 2016 I posted this message concerning the pending execution of Jeff Wood.

    On August 19, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted Wood a stay of execution.

    Here is an excerpt from this CNN report:

    On his 43rd birthday, Wood received news that the execution was halted.

    The two-page order sent two arguments from the defense to the trial court for resolution.

    One of the claims argued "false and misleading testimony" was presented by the prosecuting side's psychiatrist and it was in violation of due process. The other claimed the judgment also violates due process because it was based on false scientific evidence through "false psychiatric testimony concerning (Wood's) future dangerousness."

    And here is a reaction from Baptist News Global.

    I will continue to pray for Jeff Wood and the Texas justice system. May we do what is right, and be found a merciful people.


    Light Up the World

    We have been singing this song this morning around our house.

    David asked, “How do we light up the world?”

    “We act kindly,” I said, “And do what is right and walk with God. We also love everyone.

    David replied, “Oh. I love to follow Jesus and light up the world.”

    “Me too,” I said.

    Before walking away, David smiled and exclaimed, “You’re funny, daddy!”

    Yes, I am.


    Poem: Word Husbandry

    Sow a thousand words, 
    Reap a few hundred.
    Or none.
    Good seed, good soil.
    Or wind, whirlwind.
    Words well chosen
    Are gifts.