Is This It?

It has now been ten years since I first received my call as elementary school teacher. Back then, it
seemed like I had my whole career ahead of me. I knew exactly how it would go:


Teach in a school while doing a little bit of music stuff,
Teach in a school and do a bunch of music in the church and school,
Be the music person in a church and school full-time,
Compose a bunch of stuff while being the music person in a church or school,
Be published in a hymnal that will be sung by thousands of people for years to come, and
Conduct a really, really good choir at the WELS Worship Conference before retiring.
Spend the rest of my years RV-ing around the country.


But God has other plans. I mean, God knows everything, so he knew my plans were futile. As a matter
of fact, he probably laughed at my plans when I would think about them!


God knows best.


And after ten years of thinking I was on the right track, I realized I wasn’t.


So how can that be? Didn’t I get a divine call?


Well, if you’re unfamiliar with the process, I was called to serve by a congregation which operates a
school. Through the Holy Spirit’s guidance, they were led to ask me to be a teacher. And then I had the
choice of accepting the call or staying in my current call.


I bounced around to a few different schools, thinking that it would help me on my path towards a full-time
music and worship teacher.


But in the long run, it just made me realize I wasn’t meant to be a full-time classroom teacher.


Newsflash: teaching is hard. Not the actual process of teaching, but the process of everything that
revolves around teaching. That includes making sure students are doing their homework to the best of
their ability, communicating in all different kinds of ways with parents of all different kinds of backgrounds,
improving and updating the curriculum, collaborating with fellow teachers, and fostering an environment
where positivity and Christian behavior are always flowing.


That is really, really hard, you guys. I really admire teachers who do this kind of stuff and enjoy it. They
are amazing men and women! They have patience, kindness, organization, and enthusiasm. If you
have a child who is in school right now, please take the time to appreciate your child’s teacher and
thank them for what they’ve done. Even if they made mistakes over the year, the teachers still tried
their hardest every single day to make sure your child was learning.


(I can say that now because soon I won’t be a full-time teacher, and therefore won’t feel like I’m tooting
my own horn. Teachers don’t like to do that.)


Other teachers are amazing. I tried my best. But in the end, I realized this kind of work wasn’t cut out
for me. I was a music-and-worship teacher stuck in a classroom teacher’s body.


I know and understand that God has a plan for me, and I’m very glad for the ten years of teaching that
I had. It taught me so much that college did not. I learned how to let things go. I learned how to relax
when something was going wrong in the room. I learned how to work in difficult situations. And I learned
to trust God!


Now I want to take those things I learned to the next level. I am not saying, “I will never teach again!”
On the contrary; I really loved teaching music at all my schools. If you asked any family from the
schools I was at, they would probably say that the kids were really good at music (or at least enjoyed it).
This year in particular was a chance for my students in grades K-8 to really shine at singing; they were
the best bunch of grade school singers I’ve ever had!


My college major was parish music. That didn’t just mean music in the schools. It meant planning
worship in the church, as well. That involves picking the order of service, hymns, organists, and choir
music, and then executing it in a worship service. That kind of stuff has never felt like work. That brings
out the ultimate joy in me!


I’ve always known that, and God’s always known that, and now God has decided it’s time for me to
work even harder toward that goal by using the things I’ve learned over the past ten years. That
experience is going to help me in many ways as I move forward, and I’m very thankful.


Of course, I need to still get a paycheck somehow. Dreams and ambitions won’t pay the bills,
unfortunately. I’ve been applying and looking at different careers that will still allow me to work part
time in parish worship, but nothing has arrived yet.


Will another opportunity arise? Or what if I were to take matters into my own hands? What if I were
to start my own business? Would it work? Would congregations take advantage of my talents if it
were more affordable? Could I spread myself out over dozens of congregations and make a living
wage?


It’s something I’m willing to try. Right now, God has me blindfolded and hasn’t shown me where I’m
going in the future. I’m making my way towards several different paths that I can sense, but not see.
I’ll be able to use my experience as a full-time classroom teacher and as a musician to go forward,
and for that I’m grateful.


My career focus hasn’t changed. The goals are still there. They don’t have to be a pipe dream anymore!

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