I’ve been fired twice in my life. The second time was from the last church I served. It was incredibly painful and I’ve shared that story in a few different podcasts, which you can listen to HERE, HERE, and HERE.
The first time I got fired I was in my early twenties.
One of my last Hollywood jobs
The year was 1996 and I was still trying to make it in Hollywood. I had gotten a job at a company called Video Monitoring Services, a company that, well, monitored media outlets—everything you can imagine.
Whenever someone (usually a celebrity because, y’know, we were in Hollywood) wanted a clip of themselves on a talk show or news report, they called Video Monitoring Services and we quickly sent them a copy of the clip on a VHS tape (these days, I imagine they just find it on YouTube).
It was a relatively interesting place to work. The office was located in the CNN building in Hollywood, so I occasionally saw Larry King in the lobby. I even spoke with Casey Kasem on the phone once! When he said, “Hello, this is Casey Kasem,” he sounded just like he did on the radio!
Not a good fit
But it was not the right job for me. I got hired to be an office guy. I answered the phone, filed invoices, and packaged VHS tapes.
It was not fulfilling and I wasn’t happy. It required a lot of detail work and I am not a detail-oriented guy. And it certainly wasn’t what I wanted when I thought about working in Hollywood.
One day, I forwarded a call to the manager. She was very “Hollywoody” (you can imagine the stereotype) and she was not happy that I had forwarded the call to her. She came to my workspace and basically said, “Never do that again.”
I was in a bad mood that day, so I got defensive. I don’t remember what said, but it was something like, “Look, the caller asked to speak to you, so I forwarded the call. How am I supposed to know you didn’t want that call?”
She didn’t say anything and walked away. I suspect that was the moment she decided to fire me.
And then I got fired
Later in the week the office manager asked me to come to his office. He said, “I need to let you know that things aren’t really working out with you and we’re going to have to let you go.”
That was a shock! I had never been fired before! I said, “Really?”
He just said, “Yeah.” Then he added, “We’ll pay you for the rest of the day, but you can leave now.”
It was a terrible feeling to be fired. I felt like a total failure.
A turning point
This wasn’t my last Hollywood job, but it was a turning point for me. It set me on a trajectory that led to my true calling. By that September I was a new student at Fuller Seminary and a few years later I was a pastor.
That’s what suffering, disappointment, and failure can do. They can give us greater clarity. They can help us see that we’re not in the right place. They can help us begin the journey toward where we are meant to be.
That’s true for us not only personally, but also in our leadership.
Churches are going through a time of great change. In some ways, it feels like the world has fired the church. Far fewer people attend church these days and churches have minimal influence or impact on society.
That means we need discernment. Our calling now is to discover how we are being called to love and serve our cities and neighborhoods. (Side note: Check out Ep. 60 with Amy Sherman for more on loving our cities.)
That’s why I’d like to invite you to be a part of something new that I’m trying. My hope is to create a course that will help pastors and churches better discern how God is uniquely calling us to serve and bless our communities through a process I call a Neighborhood Connection Group.