Have you ever said, “This is not my dream job?” I know I have!
As part of the ongoing series, The Wonder of What God Has Done, Jen Roettjer shares about how God changed her perspective of and her passion for work. I was blessed to meet her last year when we attended my nephew’s confirmation.
Not My Dream Job
by Jennifer Roettjer
I knew that I wanted to be a teacher ever since I was in the sixth grade. You would think that knowing so early would have made my decision about choosing a college to go to easier, but it did not. During my junior and senior years of high school, I wanted to spend time thinking through other possibilities to make sure I knew what profession I wanted to choose. But in the end, I went to a college known for its teaching program and enrolled to get an education degree.
For twelve years, I thought myself very fortunate. Not only did I teach, but God had placed me in schools near my family and where I grew up. In fact, I even taught for two years at the same high school I attended. By the time I entered my seventh year of teaching, I considered myself having my dream job. I taught a class load that I would have hand-picked, including Old Testament, New Testament, and Geometry. My school had just moved into a brand-new building, in which I had first choice of classrooms. From my desk, I could look out the window and see the mountain peaks in the distance. My classroom was the same as the ideal classroom picture I had drawn when I took “Intro to Ed” in college.
Then everything changed…
The school I taught at was a part of an association of two high schools. Because of the financial situation, the board made the difficult decision to close one of the schools. They thought the best way to determine which teachers remained was to put everyone’s name in a pot and see who came out. I had everything going for me. Of all the theology teachers, I was head of the theology department at my school and had the most education. But God had different plans. I was heartbroken when I found out that I did not have a job to come back to the following year.
With three months left in the school year, I began the process of getting my name out to other schools across the nation. By the time June came around, I still did not have another teaching job. God had not only closed the door on my perfect job, but also closed the door on any other teaching possibilities.
During that time, God had planted a seed in my head that I become a Director of Christian Education (DCE) and work in a church setting, instead of a school setting. When I was in high school thinking about other possible professions, I had considered a DCE, but I didn’t think that would be the right fit for me. Normally, when you think of a youth/children’s leader they are overly bubbly, play the guitar, and go with the flow. I am not any of those!
Yet, here I was, years later, thinking that was where God was leading me.
In the course of two weeks,
God put everything together.
I had found a year-long certification program that would allow me to take classes online and do an internship simultaneously. My church was gracious enough to let me do the internship part with them. I filled out the application, and two weeks later, I was sitting in a classroom taking my first class. As a part of that first class, I had to explain why I wanted to be a DCE. While I told them the same story I am telling you, I couldn’t help but question in my mind what in the world I was doing.
After I finished my certification program and internship, life did not fall into place all at once. In fact, I didn’t have a job, either in a church or school for another two years. God had some more pruning to do on me before I started working in a church. I spent that time folding clothes at Target. Yep, that’s right, I had now completed three years of post-graduate work, and all I could do was wonder why God had worked everything out for me to get certified but then didn’t provide me with a church to work in. Instead, I was at a job that paid less than a dollar above minimum wage, not using very many of my talents at all.
Finally, God placed me in a church in Illinois as the Director of Children’s Ministry. When I began my job, I felt rather out of my comfort zone. Here I was a high school teacher, now in charge of activities such as preschool chapel and giving children’s messages. One of my least favorite activities when I was teaching, was giving chapel. Now the only time I was in front of children was to do exactly that!
The Wonder of What God Has Done
I have now been a DCE for six years, including my internship year, and am finally able to see the wonder of what God has done. God has provided me with opportunities to continue teaching, including Bible studies and Confirmation classes. In addition, being a DCE has allowed me the chance to use other skills God had given me, such as counseling, vision planning, and administration. I have been able to use my creativity and work on projects I would never have dreamed of doing.
I still have days in which I miss teaching in a classroom. But I know that God has called me to work in a church as a DCE. When I look back to my thoughts as a high schooler about being a DCE, I still cannot play the guitar nor am I as bubbly as others, but God has molded me into the person He wants me to be, given me the talents I need, and placed me where he wants me to serve. I rest assured that regardless of my understanding that God works wonders in our lives to His glory!
Jen Roettjer attended Denver Seminary and graduated with a M.A. in Biblical Studies in 2006. She currently is the Director of Children’s Ministry at Redeemer Lutheran Church, Peoria, IL. Jen also writes a weekly blog entitled “Joyous Living: Where Faith, Life, and God Meet.” (That’s another story, how God turned a math teacher into a writer!)