Ken Burton shares his reflections on transitioning from a career in information technology to a new call to pastoral care.
I am now at a point of transition, having recently begun that phase of life that our culture calls “retirement.” The cultural concept does not have much meaning for me. What is important is that I have been given a new opportunity to listen for God’s call on (or in) my life.
I have spent years in that peculiar form of corporate and institutional service called Information Technology. More recently, the service aspect of my work became more important to me and the technical pieces less so. This may have made me less effective in actually doing the work, but it did and does provide a clue about the next thing in my life: I long for work (not employment) that is more face-to-face, more directly caring. But what?
I have some interpersonal skills as well as some experience in using them, but I lack any formal training in this area. One thing that I sometimes do well is listening. From time to time, I am able to hear the voice (often in pain) behind the spoken word and to feel the energy that is present in the exchange but not articulated. So I am looking for ways to enhance and discipline these skills through training and practice and to use them for the healing of some small part of our broken world.
In the context of Christian faith, some might call the work I envision “pastoral care,” and this is, indeed, the area where I contemplate seeking training. But the name is not important. What is significant is my sense of participating more fully in God’s story while at the same time finding greater satisfaction in living my story.
January 6, 2010