The Adventures of Shopgirl & Life’s Small Detours

I am not supposed to be working a part-time job in retail selling miracles in a jar or a tube. I am supposed to be a campus minister/blogger developing world changers, renewing the campus, writing and editing blog posts that draw people into a deeper relationship with God, and storming the castle for Jesus.

But I am. Both. And. All.

My “real” job overseeing multiethnic ministry development and training (the corporate world might translate this into “diversity director”) with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship invites me to raise my entire salary, benefits package and overhead. I know. It sounds crazy, right? It is crazy for all right reason. Ministers of the gospel are not meant to go at it alone, which is why Jesus sent his disciples out in pairs. I go out with more than just one partner in ministry. I go out with a host of others praying for me and giving generously because they don’t want to do what I’ve been called, trained and gifted to do – train staff in cross-cultural mission, mentor leaders across the country, teach & preach at conferences, and other incredibly fun, spiritually challenging and exciting stuff.

It’s just that sometimes the math doesn’t work, and salaries are reduced. And time doing some of the things I love doing gets spent doing other things I love less but should love just as much – like raising more support, networking, inviting people to join me on this adventure.

But part of that adventure means taking the occasional detour, in part because the math isn’t working out. To help balance the books at home, I have become “Shopgirl” – selling cosmetics part-time at a nearby department store. And aside from having to stand for 4-8 hours a day with a little more makeup than I usually wear to pick-up my kids from school or when I teach about God creating culture, I’m finding that being Shopgirl and castle-stormer for Jesus has required me to be the same me in new and sometimes uncomfortable ways. And it’s really, really difficult.

I’ve learned more than I want and need to know about office politics and climbing the corporate ladder in the few short weeks I’ve been back in a “secular” workplace. I gotta tell you that being Christ-like is a lot more difficult when the gossip is juicy or when I’m just plain bored out of my mind.

It’s difficult to sell with integrity when I know that the miracle cure-all for your breakouts will cost you half as much if you buy a drugstore product with the same active ingredient, especially if you really want to believe that you get what you pay for. Telling people about Jesus is actually easier because I believe in Jesus and His miracles; I’m not so sure that my wrinkles are disappearing because of a cream I am trying out, but it sure smells nice.

It’s humbling, sometimes humiliating, when you are interviewing for a job that you know you are overqualified for (no, I don’t have any retail experience in cosmetics, but I have been wearing makeup for more than 20 years), or you are in a job that you are overqualified for but need to have and a customer treats you like you are a stupid housewife trying to keep herself busy. (I have yet to meet a housewife who doesn’t already have enough to do, have you?) I don’t really want to know “How can I help you?” I just want to go back to my “real” job where I tell people about Jesus. 

See how this is hard?

It’s all part of my “real” job. It doesn’t matter if the check come from InterVarsity or that department store. It doesn’t matter if I don’t get a check at all, since my family doesn’t pay me except in hugs, kisses, and their eternal gratitude. My job is to be who God has called and created me to be in all circumstances and situations, in all the roles and responsibilities I have the privilege of having.

And this all started gelling for me this morning as I put on some of that wonder cream I get to try for free because I am Shopgirl after a great morning video conference call in preparation for some cross-cultural leadership and ministry training I will get to do later this month because I am a diversity director with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.

It’s a small detour, but I think I am still on the right track.




  1. Max S February 6, 2013

    You will be fired if they find you telling the truth, even on a blog.

    Welcome to the brave newly reborn corporate slave world!

  2. get ordained online February 6, 2013

    Thanks a lot for not only sharing this post but your story and thoughts. My cousin wants to <a href=""get ordained online and I honestly didn’t understand not only his reason in wanting to do it, but really his overall reason for wanting to become a minister. I never pictured him living his life as a minister. But one thing he did say to me which makes sense to me is that he doesn’t want to look back on his life and think “What if.” He knows right now what he wants to do and wants to follow that path and see where it leads. I gave him my blessing. I like that you’re doing what you like to do and want to do, as you said you are both working part-time and a campus minister. Everything requires not only hard work but dedication. Thanks again for sharing your post!

  3. Becky Nelson Ferguson February 6, 2013

    You are living Col. 3:23. Whatever you do (IV Director, writer, blogger, preacher, shopgirl, mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend, counselor, household manager, procurement officer, gardener, baker, cook, hostess, Pom mom), you are doing it as for the Lord. Blessed to know you.

  4. Grace Biskie (@gabwithgrace) February 12, 2013

    Kathy, I’ve had some similar issues in my life post-InterVarsity. there’s a lot i don’t like about people and situations, and “professionalism” outside of the safe bubble of IV that I’d come to know & love so very well. I can see how your new shopgirl life could be super challenging as I feel as well…I’m at the absolute bottom of my org with not a single nary person to oversee…which is weird & humbling! anyway, thanks for sharing this honestly. I respect & admire you so much!!! hugs!

  5. Melody Harrison Hanson April 27, 2013

    My heart goes out to you with love and admiration.


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