Whenever you think about leaving Athens, just know that I think that you should stay. I'll love you if you leave, but I really think you should make Athens a bigger part of the equation than most people do.
Last month, Lindsey and I took some time to consider some other job opportunities outside of Athens. We've been here for ten years and as an Air Force brat who moved every few years, ten years is an eternity. My other job with the Acts 29 church planting network is ending and that seemed like a good time to kick the tires on the possibility that God might be moving us on to something else.
But we decided to stay in Athens and intend to be here for a long time. And maybe some of the reasons we decided to stay will help you whenever you wrestle with the decision to stay or leave town.
I'm already here. There are a ton of unknowns as you consider your future. One thing you do know is that you live here. That is not a mistake. God put you here to know and be known. And perhaps he intends for you to do that somewhere else but what is not in question is that you know that you're already here.
Chasing a job is overrated. As we let people know that we had cracked the door to other job options, I heard from people all across the country. Nothing came of those options because we quickly came to the conclusion that what mattered more to us than the work I did was the place we lived our lives. And we wanted to be here in Athens.
We are not vagabonds. While some of us can adapt quickly to changing locations, most of us need time to settle in and for our mailing address to become home. Steven Garber writes, "We do not flourish as human beings when we know no one and no one knows us; we do not flourish as human beings when we belong to no place and no place cares about us. When we have no relationship to people or place, we have no sense of responsibility to people or place."
Now please understand this. You don't have to live for the rest of your life in Athens. It might be that the place where God wants you to be known and take responsibility is another town or city or country. What I don't want you to miss, however, is the importance of place in the calling that God has on your life. Don't just choose work on the basis of your personality (skills and strengths) and the things you're passionate about. Pay attention to the place where your personality and passions can meet real needs.
More from Garber: "We must learn to live incarnationally, committed to particular people and particular places. If we are to have honest lives, we will have to incarnate who we are and what we believe with those people in those places."
I talked more about this last Sunday in our sermon, "What is Wealth"? You can subscribe to our podcast or stream it below.
Let me know how this helps you think about the work that God is calling you to do! Leave a comment below.