John Alan Turner

Writer, Theologian, Consultant, Speaker, Teacher

Opportunity or Distraction?

Sometimes I wonder what in the world I'm doing. I am a writer, and a church consultant. That is how I make my living these days. I don't know how many of you have tried it, but writing is really hard. I frequently spend my mornings crafting some brilliant piece of writing only to spend my afternoon coming to grips with the fact that what I've written is terrible. I know deep down that I'm not really a writer. I'm a teacher. Rick Hazelip told me that years ago, and he was right. I'm a teacher, and teachers teach because they need to teach. I write because people pay me to. I write so people will ask me to come and teach. My regular teaching gigs here in Atlanta pays me absolutely nothing. For some reason, I teach for free.

Don't get me wrong: I enjoy writing. But it doesn't fill me with life the way teaching does. Jill says that sometimes I glow when I teach. It makes me happy. So, I'm trying to figure out how to make more of my living come from teaching. I'd still like to write, but I'd rather have my income tied to the thing that brings me great joy (wouldn't we all?).

So, imagine the thoughts swirling through my brain when I checked my email this afternoon and found two messages -- one from a seminary asking me to consider interviewing for a teaching post and one from some people who are planting a church asking me to consider being their teaching pastor.

Both have an upside: Steady salary and benefits, intellectual stimulation, some measure of prestige.

Both have a downside: I would have to move my family...again. And I really don't want to do that. I mean I really don't want to do that. We just bought a house. We have the greatest friends in the world. I have tremendous opportunities and established relationships. I do not want to move.

So, I'm asking: how do tell the difference between an opportunity and a distraction?