“When I grow up, I want to sell advertising.” No, not quite. Far from it, but that’s where I find myself today. I don’t remember really what it was that I wanted to be when I grew up. I thought flying planes would be cool. I got my private pilot’s license a few years ago fulfilling that childhood dream, but I’d never want to fly commercially. Advertising? I can’t imagine many kids listing that as their lifelong ambition. My five year old’s career wishes change with the hour most days.
I certainly never hoped to grow up and become a preacher either, but that I did too. A relative I hadn’t seen in years asked me last week at a funeral I preached, “Why of all the things that you could be did you decide to be a preacher?” My immediate, knee-jerk answer was, “I have no clue. I wonder that myself some days.” These days I’m only a moonlighting preacher and sell advertising for a living.
When I was in high school, I settled on the idea of becoming an engineer. In fact I took college prep courses for that purpose. I got full paid scholarships for it. I made the Dean’s list my freshman year majoring in Electrical Engineering. I transferred after that first year to another school and graduated four years later with a Bachelor of Arts in Religion with a minor in History. Eight years of pastoral ministry later, and I’m out.
If you ask me if selling advertising is really what I want to do for a living, I guess my answer is “no,” but I love what I do and wouldn’t want to do anything else. I want to be myself and enjoy life for a living. If selling advertising pays the bills and enables me to pursue my passions, then I’ll gladly sell advertising. I think what most people mean is “Wouldn’t you want to do what you love and get paid for it?” Well, sure. I guess, but I do enjoy what I do.
I would have never in a million years told you I’d end up in sales, because I was so introverted as a kid. I didn’t like meeting new people and making new friends. I was all too content to be alone. Pastoring churches changed a lot of that. This job continaully challenges me. It’s not an intellectual challenge nor a physical one, other than the many miles I put on my vehicle and my body. It is mostly a challenge of will and perseverance. It requires an enormous amount of self-motivation and self-discipline. I’m addicted to the reward also. It pays good. As hard as the challenge can be at times, especially when bills are piling up and money is low, it is a huge high to finish a job and know you did it.
Advertising is a means to an end for me. I don’t consider myself to be contributing to the betterment of mankind from what I do for a living. I really see myself more as a “grease man” in a big corporate machine. I’m definately expendable, but I don’t care. I don’t allow people or the business to use me. Subversively, I’m the one exploiting the machine. I don’t live for work. I work so I can live. If this thing ever comes to a close, which isn’t likely in the healthcare industry, I’ll find another nitch to slide into, but what I do for a living will never change. I choose to live for a living. I never want to become my job or my title. It’s a matter of priorities.
One day when the kids are grown, I plan to use my job travels to see the country and be a vagabond for a while. I’d love to save up enough cash on the side to open a little coffee shop one day, if all it ever does is break even and be a cool place for people to hang out. Maybe a few rental properties would be a good steady income too. In the end it doesn’t really make a difference to me. It won’t change who I am. I refuse to let it.