On August 12th, 2018, I would have been ordained in the Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod if I had stayed on that path. But four and a half years ago, I chose to not go to seminary.
I let all my friends and family and network know that I wouldn’t be pursuing seminary and then finished my last semester at college.
The future was now uncertain and scary. I had spent a decade building a network of pastors and seminary professors. I had put all my eggs in this one basket. My parents encouraged me to try and build a business around my passions, theology and history (props to my parents for pushing me in that direction. I’d expect no less since my dad followed his passion, snakes.)
Unfortunately, that didn’t work out and I didn’t do much between August 2014 and January 2017 when I joined Praxis (again, shoutout to my parents for recommending Praxis to me). I was having a hard time figuring out what I wanted for a career and how to get the career I wanted.
Thankfully, Praxis brought me clarity for so many things. The most important of these was ascetic vs aesthetic passion. T.K. Coleman talked about it a long time ago on the Isaac Morehouse podcast.
Basically, it’s the distinction between what you love and what you love to do. I’ll use myself as an example.
I love theology. Since I was 13, it has been one of my favorite topics. But I don’t love the work of a priest or a pastor. I have Asperger’s so even though I have good social skills, I’m not wired to deal with a lot of people constantly.
I love theology, but I don’t love being a pastor.
I also love history, but not enough to suffer for it. When history depresses me, I stop reading or listening. I check out and go do something else.
I love history, but I don’t love doing history.
Confusing these two things explains why it took me so long to realize that I wanted to be a programmer. Every time I would mention it, it seemed to come out of nowhere. The guy who can barely work his Windows 10 machine and has never expressed interest in computer science wants to code?
Did I just want to because it paid well? Did I want to because that’s what Aspies are supposed to want? I could try and throw blame on others, but the truth is that I lacked conviction.
Thankfully, I’ve been able to try on a few hats at BitPay since there is always more work to do than people to do it. I’ve been able to help with the website and even start helping with the design. I’ve been able to take on larger and larger projects.
I can spend hours coding or learning about development without getting bored. My frustrations increase my resolve and determination to find a solution. My wife will tell me, “come to bed” and I’ll respond “just a few more minutes.” The only thing that has ever done that for me is… video games. Programming is the only thing I’ve found that competes with video games for my attention.
So, my biggest advice is to figure out what you love to do. Not love like in a rom-com, but the love you see a parent have for their kid or an athlete have for their sport or an entrepreneur have for their startup.