My heart unexpectedly crashed when I read your blog. My head later caught up with my emotional reaction as I quietly meditated over what was going on in me.My heart was deeply saddened when I read this. It haunted me for days. The last sentence especially gripped me: "I am just beginning to understand the cost for the church and myself."
Not once in my 40-year career as a professional service provider and as an active member within three congregations over that period of time was my work ever acknowledged as a form of worship, let alone prayed over and sent out by the church. Rather the implicit message was, "That is great what you do out there. Now, can you lead a group or teach a class in the church where God's real work is done?" And I did that in each of the churches where I was a member. Over the years, church participation was something more for me to do, over and beyond the service I provided in the community, especially for families in the community who would otherwise not financially afford the professional help.
Sadly, my connection with other church members was often peppered with requests for free advice or expectations that my professional privilege should easily be brought into the church life to enhance God's Kingdom work inside the church walls. I often experienced both a deeply felt fatigue and isolation in my church participation. Church was another drain on my personal resources of time and energy. I never experienced church as a resource or support for the work I did outside the church walls.
It is not that the theology of sacred work was not preached. But it was not put into practice because neither I nor the church leaders knew the practical implementation of supporting and commissioning professional knowledge-holder's work outside of the church walls.
July 31, 2020 was my last day as a professional service provider. I surrendered my state license. A part of me is sad; a part of me feels relief. However, my role in the church remains disconnected apart from participating in corporate worship.
I am resilient. I deeply love the Lord. I will be fine. But something was missing for decades. I am just beginning to understand the cost for the church and myself.