Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Call Me Crazy

One of the disadvantages of being a bi-vocational pastor is that you don't really fit in at work anymore. What little career aspirations I ever had, have long since dissipated; they are gone like the morning mist when the sun rises high enough to burn it off.

Most of my chain of command don't understand my priorities and a number of them now see me as unmotivated because I'm not the first to step forward to seek extra responsibilities. I do stuff and I try to do it well, but it is viewed negatively that I want to arrive, do my assigned tasks and then go home. To this end, I suspect that should there be a need to reduce head count around here, my scalp would be near the front of the list. Please understand, I'm not feeling sorry for myself here, or asking for sympathy, I'm just being honest about my situation. And I actually work for a pretty good company, but like most corporations, they have trouble seeing past their own walls out into the real world.

So, crazy as it might seem, I am trying to get a startup business going in the evenings. Not that I have much time and not that I'm bored, but I feel the need to escape from Corporate America sooner rather than later. And even if they wanted to keep me around for years to come, the side-income would be reassuring.

So, what on earth can a busy pastor do that others might pay for? A good question and one that I have been pondering for a while.

I read (a few years ago so I don't remember where) of a principle for starting businesses. That principle was "Never move more than one step from your expertise". The example that the article used was the owner of a fish restaurant looking to expand and start a second business. The specialties of the owner were, fairly obviously, knowing about fish and running a restaurant. So options would include starting a different kind of restaurant, steak would be my vote or doing something else with fish, perhaps mail-order. Each of these options would be only one step away from the owner's core competency. On the other hand, starting a mail-order steak business would be two steps from his core, so that would be inviting trouble and it's good friend failure.

I see the logic in this principle and so I'll refrain from selling Tupperware and stay close to my core. As a geek, writing programs is the thing and especially interactive websites. As a pastor I know about pastoring and church stuff. Hmmm, so how to build off of one or both of those? Well ... drum roll please ... how about websites aimed at churches and pastors? Oh my goodness, I think I'm onto something here.

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