After graduating college, I dove headfirst into life as a campus missionary. My days were jam-packed with Bible studies, intentional conversations, and praise and worship. I was praying over girls, mentoring them in the faith, and attending daily Mass. My whole life was bursting at the seams with what felt like a gospel-given mission—a calling—and one that felt purposeful.
Then it ended.
After a two-year commitment to mission work, I got married and moved to Wisconsin, where my husband was in graduate school. I got a full-time job in a cubicle and felt like all of that meaning had flown out the window.
Maybe you’re in a similar situation. This past year, many churches are cutting staffs, and a lot people are also looking at their life in a new way. It’s leading to transition: a whole bunch of Catholics leaving professional ministry and entering the secular world.
That transition is incredibly tricky. On one hand, it’s so emotional. You feel like your job was so full of purpose and pointed towards the highest good possible: Heaven. Now you’re just, what? Making somebody money? Selling something? It’s easy to get hung up on that difference. Secondly, you may feel like your skills don’t really translate to a secular work environment. After all, you can’t walk into work and just start praying over people.
But the truth is, so many skills from ministry work can translate into the secular field.
- A passion for people: You were in ministry because you loved and cared about people. Now that you’re in the corporate world, you can do the same thing. Focusing on treating your coworkers and customers with the upmost respect, always being honest, and serving others will help make your job feel more meaningful.
- Self-accountability: Let’s get real—ministry is a hard job to “measure.” Sure, you can have 100 kids show up at youth group, but it’s not like that means they’re all having deep conversions with Jesus. In order to be successful at ministry, you have to constantly be pushing yourself to think of new ideas, get to the heart of issues, and get things done when your to-do list isn’t always crystal clear. Those are skills that will help immensely in the secular world.
- A higher purpose: It’s a lot easier not to sweat the small stuff when you know who—and whose—you are. If there’s a shakeup at work or something goes wrong, it’ll be much easier to keep your perspective and a calm, cool, collected mind. After the emotional years of ministry, something like an angry customer may seem like a walk in the park!
Lastly, it’s important to remember that God isn’t mad at you for leaving ministry work. If you’re following His will, walking in the path where He’s guiding you, and spreading His name in whatever way the current season calls for, God isn’t disappointed. In fact, He’s likely joyful that you’re taking your heart for the Lord into a place where it may not be flourishing. A secular work environment is simply a different kind of mission field—one you’ll be ready for.