My mother loved her life, but it wasn’t without its regrets. I remember her telling me how she wished she finished her education and embarked on a path of fulfillment. To this day, I really don’t know what exactly my mother wanted to do with her life. She passed away at the young age of 52. However, I know without a doubt what she wanted for me. She would encourage me from an early age to be and do exactly what fulfilled me. Even if it were to be a ditch digger, she would say you make me proud and be the best ditch digger. Her heart’s desire was for me to always learn, formally and informally. She would push me to read, study and gain as much knowledge in what stirs my passion and live it out with every fiber of my being.
Well, I’ve done exactly that. I got an education in Computer Science & Information Systems Management; I’ve enjoyed the privilege of deploying my formal learning in the US Air Force, and great companies like Texas Instruments, Acer, Grande Communications, 2Wire and Pace. I climbed the ladder of success from apprentice tape monkey and first level call taker to Operations Manager overseeing cross department and multi-site computer and telecommunication functions. Along the way, I’ve even had the honor of coaching some amazing young men in football, basketball and track, as well as being a general manager of a movie theater.
In all my experience and leadership engagements, none have fulfilled me as much or transformed my life as being in full time ministry. During much of my employment tenures, I’ve always been connected to a local church serving from youth leader, associate pastor, regional youth director, pioneering a church plant to, most recently, pastoring a church. My wife and I love being on mission, serving local indigenous pastors, caring for widows and orphans, and overseeing churches in the bush of Kenya that we started a missions ministry, Breathe International, in 2010. We even partner with other ministries and non-profits by running 5K’s, 10K’s, half and full marathons that both directly or indirectly support and sponsor their missions.
So far it sounds like I’ve had a fulfilling life and career, but here’s the kick in the shorts. My formal education and experience, regardless of how much money I earn, has and will never compare to the overwhelming fulfillment of Christ grace transforming the lives of men, women and children around the world. So much passion for missions burns deep within my spirit that I just can’t bring myself to walk another day as an indentured servant to the “American Dream”. Don’t get me wrong the annual salaries; benefits and other compensations are very nice and hard to pass up. However, “what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” (Luke 9:25)
2015 is the 30th anniversary of my personal transformation and ministry in Christ. It marks a journey through the amazing experience love, grace and mercy to overcome overwhelming odds. In this milestone year, I’ve found myself as a “Free Agent” and frankly I’m terrified. God has not brought me so far to let me fall, but the natural circumstances ahead of me demand a supernatural intervention.
Unlike professional athletes who become “Free Agents”, there’s no agent working on my behalf to find me that next team who will pay millions for my perceived value and worth. There’s no business, church, ministry, etc. beating down my door, blowing up my phone or chasing after me to come work for them. Instead, it’s a journey of balancing how to provide for my family and relentlessly pursuing this mission with passion, intentionality and fulfillment.
As I’ve walked out the last couple weeks of free agency, I’ve encountered the following Pros & Cons that I would like to share:
- Not tied to a time clock, company or boss expectations
- Full autonomy to set my own course and destination
- Liberty to manage my own schedule and commitments
- Availability to family, friends and mission
- Uninterrupted time to dream and cast vision, study and equip, write and impart
- Provide strategic Kingdom solutions instead of corporate bottom line fixes
- Potential to earn as much as I am willing to invest
- Combating emotional distractions of idleness, anxiety and fear
- No steady stream of income and extended lean periods
- Falling behind on bills or increasing debt to pay them
- Diminishing professional value in the market place
- Financial strain and tension on marriage and family
- Being forgotten and discarded
For the record, I’m not just sitting around waiting for some big opportunity to fall in my lap. I’m intentionally and faithfully submitting my resume and applying for positions in my profession. It’s not what I want to do, but I know I must be vigilant in my pursuit to provide and meet my obligations; however, at the same time I am investing in the passion that drives me, what fulfills me and where my heart is most engaged: #mission – #community – #discipleship.
Continue to pray for me as I walk out this next chapter of my life and transition to where God is leading me. If there is anything I can do to partner with you to advance your mission, church or business, let’s get connected and turn this world upside down.
James Miller Jr
“Missionary to a Generation”