The Question Matters


Living in the Fish Bowl

Posted in Change,Entrepreneurs,Family,Generation Y,Leadership by treyfinley1008 on January 27, 2010

The clergy profession has been described as a “fish bowl.”  Goldfish in fish bowls as much decoration and trophy as pet and friend.  Like a goldfish, every breath and every move is on display.  Fish owners don’t like it when the bowl gets cloudy.  They want to see in, and they’ll do what’s in their power to see clearly into the water of their pastor’s life and family.  And don’t think for a moment that the owners of said fishbowl won’t comment on what they think they’ve seen.

I lived in a fishbowl for ten years.  Though I was never subjected to the intense pressure a lead pastor receives, I received enough in my work with students and adults over the years to know what it felt like to be watched, observed, even scrutinized.  I was ejected from much of that scrutiny when I was laid off from my church.  Whether that scrutiny was real or imagined, I felt a burden lifted as I separated myself from the role of paid pastor and assumed a volunteer and participant’s role.

What has become clear to me in the months following my layoff is that my growth and development as a minister in a church had begun to stagnate.  While I could easily blame a number of environmental factors in my workplace (i.e., the loss of my continuing education budget to our financial difficulties or the survival mode that we as a staff had lived in for several months), I am the only one responsible for my self-development.

I could not afford to remain stagnant once my entrepreneurial status hit me in the face.  I’ll venture into the arenas where I sought new skills at a later date, but I’m proud to say that I rejected any false sense of security that I already possessed what it took to be an entrepreneur.  Those closest to me have affirmed this, and I’m grateful that the acceleration of my learning curve during the last twelve months has not gone unnoticed.

A recent Gen Y blogger said it this way about striking out on your own in business:

I am ready to take on this challenge with enthusiasm and probably misplaced optimism. I know I will struggle along the way and feel like I am in over my head. But a fish can only grow as big as its bowl allows it.

My bowl got a lot bigger in 2009.  Is yours big enough to give you space to learn, grow, and become all you were made to be?

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2 Responses to 'Living in the Fish Bowl'

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  1. 2mannasisters said,

    Yep. Growth indeed can be commended in you even when it’s not an option. So proud of you!

  2. jen said,

    Another great post! People so need to connect right now with people who have thrived through layoff, transition and job loss. How giving and loving of you to open yourself up and show your hope and journey to the rest of the world. I know God will bless you for this, and has taken you through this, as He has me, so many things, to break my heart and eyes open with compassion. You are a witness.


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