Let me tell you a story. A story of running and being found. I was the one running, and I have now been found.
My story starts over 10 years ago, when I was merely a high school student enjoying life. I had the honor and privilege of growing up in a fine, Christian home. My parents sent me to a Christian school and provided the needed encouragement to get involved in church and other ministries. It was around 16 years old when I first felt my call to ministry. I never experienced a "Damascus Road" type of call, but through consistent prayer and petition of God I felt this was the direction He was leading me. I then began to experience what some would call the “firstfruits” of ministry. During my late high school and early college years I was greatly involved in ministry at my church and worked the entire summer at a Christian youth camp. It was these experiences that pushed me to study Christian ministry and youth ministry at Indiana Wesleyan University.
The summer after my freshman year of college was when I had my first significant leadership role in ministry. I was the Activities Director at the camp I had been working at for years, and was one of five on the leadership team that led the rest of the staff. This opportunity at ministerial leadership was a great experience that only reaffirmed my passion and calling into ministry.
The following summer I did an internship at a church in South-central Pennsylvania. This internship was good to show me more of the inner-workings of the every day life of a church. It was a great learning experience, and I learned and saw what it meant to actually lead a church. I was again reaffirmed that my calling was to become a full-time pastor.
Fast forward. In the following year my girlfriend and I, who went to high school together and were now at Indiana Wesleyan University together, prayed and talked about our future and decided that it was time to get married even though we were still in college. As any married person knows, with marriage comes a barrage of responsibility. I only had 1 semester left of classes, but my young wife had at least 3 semesters left if not more. God greatly blessed us and provided a full-time job for me at the university in the admissions office.
Over the next four years many things transpired in our lives. I loved my work, spreading the name of Indiana Wesleyan University. I saw this as my area of ministry because of the great impact attending IWU had on my personal spiritual journey. I saw it as my current calling to help prospective students understand how God could work in their lives through attending IWU. During these years even more amazing things happened on the family side of life. The Lord blessed my wife and I first with a son, and then just under 2 years later with the gift of twin girls. At four years of marriage my life was drastically different than the day we said “I do,” and I began to feel a yearning I didn't know what do about.
I took this yearning as a sign that I was supposed to do something different, something bigger than working at the university. Over the previous four years I had slowly started to think less and less about my calling, and thought more and more about “providing” for my family. I never really had a desire to be super-rich, but I wanted to be in a place where my family was (very) comfortable financially. Several other factors contributed to my thoughts, but in the end I decided that I was going to look “corporately.” Not corporate as in a large group of people, but corporate as in “I need to work for a big company so I can make better money.” Don't get me wrong, I realized that I could be a light for Christ wherever I ended up working. I believe this is completely possible, but in retrospect, I think I used it more as a rationalization. I don't think God was necessarily calling me towards the corporate missionary lifestyle.
In October of 2010 this prompted me to move my family 500+ miles back to Maryland (where my parents live) to start as a Financial Advisor with Edward Jones Investments. I worked very hard over the next 10 months to make this job work. I studied and got the needed licenses, I prospected clients, I made calls, and I was doing well. But something seemed missing and out of place. In July of 2011 I got to the point where I was sure that I was not supposed to be an Advisor with Edward Jones. But my wife and I had no clue where God was leading us. I continued to work hard, but began to look at other areas for possible jobs.
In almost an instant I received a lead from my in-laws who were now living in Mishawaka, Indiana that led to a job. I took a position at Korhorn Financial Group as a Client Services Specialist and was put on the track to become a Certified Financial Planner. The acceptance of this position called for the need to move my family another 500+ miles back to Indiana less than one year after we had moved away.
It started happening a few weeks after I started working for Korhorn Financial. I started hearing a whisper. It wasn't a literal whisper in my ear, but more of a yearning or pulling on my heart. I began to have feelings that I had not felt for many years. This yearning grew and grew until late one night it hit me, I had forsaken my calling. I had turned my back on what God had called me to do with my life. I came to the startling realization that I would much rather provide for my wife and kids an abundance of love, joy, and peace than an abundance of possessions or wants. It took me over 5 years, but I finally realized that God had never stopped calling me into full-time ministry. I had simply turned and started walking and sometimes running in the other direction.
A week after coming to this realization and talking it through thoroughly with my wife, I decided to tell the folks at Korhorn Fianancial that, although I was willing to continue working for now, I would not be there long-term and that God had called me into ministry. While they were very supportive about my call, they decided that they wanted to get somebody into my position who would be there long-term. This decision brought about the reality that I would only be working there another week. My last day at Korhorn was November 3rd.
While Rachel and I were both surprised at this sudden change in thinking, we both felt confident that telling the company the change in our perspective was the right and ethical thing to do. In the following days I came to the realization that I was a young father of 3 without a job! God certainly works in strange and mysterious ways. Because of our sudden move to Indiana, we had moved in with Rachel's parents until we could find a place of our own. In short, there has been no other time in our adult lives where it was more feasible for me to lose my full-time job. God has richly blessed us with an amazing family, and we are very thankful to Mom and Dad Potteiger for their blessings of love and a roof over our heads!
In 1 week (answer to prayer!) I was able to find a part-time job working at Panera Bread while we do our best to discern God's direction for our lives. I have been working there for several weeks now, and I truly enjoy it. This is my first job where I leave work and I don't really have to think about it until I go back. This aspect is actually quite relaxing.
I don't know what the future holds for my family. I don't know when, if, or how long it will take me to find a full-time position as a pastor. But I do know that God has called me into full-time ministry. I do know that I will not turn my back this time, and I will open my heart to wherever He leads. I'm more excited and scared about the future than I have ever been in my adult life. It is this excitement that encourages me to write this today. Thank you for your time and for listening. We simply ask that you walk beside us and help us pray through this time of transition and discovery. May the Lord bless you and hold you close.
---Simon C. Henry