A Quest for Rootedness & a Request for Support

It's been a while since I've posted here, but I think now's a good time to share with you some upcoming changes for the Stephens family while reflecting on our recent journey to this point. Many of you know that in October 2014, I moved my family from Shawnee, KS to Branson, MO to serve as Lead Pastor of Harvest Evangelical Free Church. In the Lord's providence, we were allowed to serve in this capacity for a year and a half before realizing that it wasn't the right fit for us long-term. Shortly after resigning, after much prayer, conversation and counsel, we decided that we should return to the Kansas City area as soon as possible.

My aim for this post is to frame my calling (sense of purpose, direction, goals) for this next leg of my life's journey. As I seek out employment opportunities in the Kansas City area, I hope this post will help explain the factors which influence my vocational pursuits. I hope also to give friends and family a clearer basis from which to offer encouragement and prayer on my behalf. I'll begin by briefly unpacking our reasons for relocating back to KC. Then I'll explain the goals I have for my vocational pursuits. Finally I'll list some ways you might support us in this transition if you feel so led.

Relocation Rationale

There are two primary reasons we're returning to KC in the near future.

  1. First, we feel a call to increase our support of our extended family at this time. As a follower of Christ, and no less as a pastor, I am called to give the first-fruits of my ministry to my family--first to my wife and children, then to my parents and so on as needs and resources align (1 Tim. 5:8; cf. Mark 7:9-13; 1 Cor. 7:33-34).
  2. Second, we feel called to establish some long-needed stability for our children--a sense of rootedness. As noted in this Christianity Today article citing clinical studies on the effects of major life transitions (such as relocation, divorce, etc.) on children, too much transition can have a devastating affect on their well-being. Just this past Sunday, Bloom Church pastor Mike Carlton shared about the adverse affects that his many childhood moves had on him. Due to the presence of family and the affordability and livability of the city, we believe KC will be an ideal place to establish a long-term "homestead" in which to raise our kids.

Vocational Aspirations

What this means for me vocationally is that my call to serve God and His church with my pastoral training and gifting will likely require some flexibility and patience on my part. (Doesn't it always?) But that won't stop me from pursuing my goals vocationally! Here are the big ones:

  1. Continue to serve. With or without financial compensation, my desire is to steward my gifts and experience where I can make a genuine difference in a local church whose beliefs and ministry philosophy I can support. If a staff position opened up for me in such a church, I would gratefully consider it. However, I am not limiting my employment search to church ministry alone.
  2. Do good work. As a person who excelled in nearly every subject in school and someone who passionately pursues excellence in everything he does, I consider myself a jack of many trades. Although my degrees are in Communication (B.A.) and Divinity (M.Div.), the value of my skill-set and work ethic applies well to many professions. Having worked in nonprofits, social service, manufacturing/technical sales, and church ministry as an adult (after years of farm labor and lawn care as a child and teen), I've proven that I am able to work effectively in a variety of environments. Besides my strong work ethic, my success depends on my ability to make the most of my strengths while expanding on them. (Hint: I'm most effective at work which requires attention to detail, quality and efficiency. I'm also a creative problem solver, strategist and artist.)
  3. Generate sufficient income. Short-term, I am willing to work part-time, while my wife works full-time. However, long-term we hope to reverse this arrangement, provided that our combined income is sufficient for the needs and goals of our family. At this time, I'm limiting my search to hourly or salaried, rather than commission-based, positions.

Your Support

Among the most valuable life lessons I've learned is the fact that none of us achieves much of significance purely on our own. We all lean on each other in more ways than we often acknowledge. Here are a few needs I have right now as I enter this transition:

  1. Prayer. Please pray for the Lord to give me clarity regarding my goals and the means I pursue to achieve them. Certainly, I will achieve nothing apart from His will and provision! Pray also that I would not lose heart or become distracted by non-essentials. Pray that my commitment to love and holiness remain at the forefront of my heart and mind every day.
  2. Networking. Without a professional degree for a specialized career (such as my wife's accounting and finance degrees!), searching and applying for jobs by conventional means is like searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack. For me to land a good job, I need an "in" through someone who knows my character and strengths well from firsthand experience. Would you please keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities in the KC area that might align with my stated vocational goals above? If you don't know of anything directly, would you be willing to introduce me to someone you know who might know of something up my alley?
  3. Opportunity. Do you represent an employer who might be able to offer me a position at your company or organization? Would you be willing to sit down for lunch, coffee, or even a phone call, to discuss my fit for a potential position?
To those of you who have read up to this point, thank you for your kind consideration. Just like you, God has placed me on this earth at this time for an important purpose. Let us help one another fulfill the purposes He has for our lives! What better investment could we possibly make?

To learn more about my professional experience, education, and strengths, please visit my career profiles on LinkedIn or Branded. Chances are I'd be happy to connect if we haven't already!