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Saturday, 31 January 2009

A New Chapter

It is official.

I have lost my job; termination due to medical incapacity.

This happened last week, the same day I got my news about my recovery setback, but due to the details needing to be sorted I couldn't say anything til it was official.

Yesterday was my goodbye morning tea, Matt and I cleared out my office and I have my final pay ... so I guess it is official now. I am unemployed.

Given I had the coolest job ever, I have been grieving quite a bit but it is the best decision. Work had held my place since the car accident back in March 08 and had had temp after temp - none of whom could do my legal role, they had to learn the ropes then they would leave then a new temp would come in... none of them were full time (temp rates) so I am amazed that work held the position for me as long as they did; it is the kind of company they are, though, really supportive and caring about their employees. (Legally an employer does not have to hold your job for you if you are off due to an accident at all under New Zealand law.)

I knew the stress my incapacity was putting my managers and the business under and I felt guilty for letting them down, even though I knew it was not my fault, so I don't blame them at all. They have been really supportive and nice and kind and like my 8 year old daughter said to me, "don't be sad Mum, if you had done something bad and been fired they wouldn't be giving you a goodbye party."

The morning tea was really nice. The whole office, not just my team were there, even some of the managers I knew from the factory. They put on an amazing spread and made speeches, gave me a card and a gift and even let me out of my bonding agreement with no penalty. They were so nice it was hard not to cry. I came home really sore, far too much standing and sitting, but I wanted to make my peace with saying good-bye so it was worth it.

So dawns a new chapter in my life.

The scary part now for us now is that my job was our main source of income. I was the bread winner.

Matt has spent nearly 3 years trying to find permanent, full-time employment as a lecturer to no avail. There just are not that many vacancies out there; such is the nature of the field. He is either under qualified, in that, he has not had several years of full-time lecturing under his belt or they assume that his PhD and his PhD level capabilities mean he cannot speak to or teach lay people or first-years - frustrating because his substantial 11 years experience teaching part-time has mostly been to first-years and lay people.

Ironically, he has had approaches from the secondary school sector to train as a high school teacher and teach teenagers philosophy and religious studies. This came off the back of a high school head of department inviting him to and actually seeing him teach a classroom of teenagers.

It's nuts really. This blog is a working example of Matt's range. Sure he can go way over the average lay person's head (Philosphy is a complex discipline and he does hold a PhD in it) but then so too can he dial it down (because he has met a few people without PhD's in philosophy and it has occurred to him that they don't speak his language). His references, from highly respected members of his field, specifically highlight his ability to explain complex philosophical concepts to lay people in simple language and that his patience and teaching style with those not philosophically trained is excellent. They go out of their way to state that he is exceptional in this area. One is a current ethics adviser to the New Zealand government and the other is the former head of the Evangelical Theological Society. Both have actually seen him teach.

As you can probably tell this really peeves me. Matt is brilliant, definately one of the best Christian Philosophers in the country. [Objective, non-nepotistic statement - why does the wife always get accused of that?] However, on Monday, Matt is heading to teachers training college to get a diploma to pursue a second-choice career and we are going to spend a very scary year living on ACC (80% of my income - not nearly enough to live on with my medical expenses that ACC do NOT cover). This income will end the minute I recover and plunge us into a financial hole - the odds of me landing and beginning a new job the minute I am better are not huge... Matt does not qualify for student allowance, we are extremely reluctant to look at welfare anyway given our worldviews.

He could flag the teaching diploma in favour of a low skilled job (his qualifications are in Philsophy after all) but then what would he do - stack supermarket shelves? Pump gas? For how long? If the secondary sector are falling over themselves to nab him and there is nothing on offer by way of permanent, roof-overhead-food-on-table tertiary sector employment it is a no brainer.

So it is going to be a year of living by faith and a path away from where Matt really wants to be, should be, unless something gives.

I am clear on the correct Christian approach to this situation; I have peace and I trust in God's providence come what may. However, I also have a duty before God to play the hand I have been dealt to the best of my ability; as such, if you are looking for a Philosophy or Theology Lecturer who can teach Theology, Ethics, Apologetics, Critical Thinking, History of Philosophy; we will relocate anywhere in the world. Email Matt for his CV, Transcripts and References and, of course, peruse the blog for writing samples.
[Delete the NOSPAM in the email address before sending]


  1. Aw... Madeline, sorry to hear the news! It's cool to know that it's part of God's plan for you and the family - even though we can't see the point of it right now.

  2. Madeleine, sorry to hear all this. Income is important (to live, not intrinsically) and takes up so much time. And it is also harder with growing children, rather than as a young adult at university. It is so much easier to live on minimal income when there is no one else to take care of.

    As for Matt working in a less than ideal job: while this is common, Fall and toil and all that; it can be difficult feeling you are not using your abilities to the best. (Moses tended sheep for 40 years from 40 then got used by God extensively! though I don't know if that is encouraging or distressing? :) ) Though teaching may give him more time to pursue other options over the coming years.

    You could always come back down south! Dunedin best place to live in NZ—survey

  3. I am touched by your plight, having commented on your blog some time ago regarding the long term consequences of car crimes.
    I saw this position advertised in the NZ Herald in the last couple of days and searched out this link
    Some lateral thinking on your part, and theirs, could benefit both parties.
    Just a thought.

    Best wishes,

  4. Remember God's hand is in it all, and His plans are sometimes really, really strange! Certainly Matt is an excellent philosopher based on what I have read here, but remember the primary purpose of a Christian life is not philosophy, income, or anything like that.

    The primary purpose of a Christian life is to bring others to Christ.

    God's complex plans, that we can never understand, are designed around this primary purpose, so often don't make sense from a material point of view.

    For all we know, the entire purpose of Matt's philosophy training may be so he can speak knowledgably to one person in a random conversation one day and help to turn that one person towards Christ - and saving one soul would make all his training worthwhile. Or it may be so he can serve Christ in the field of philosophy for the rest of his life. We cannot know, but you get to find out - look forward to it!

    I don't know if this helps much though, as everyone will be saying that and you'll be well aware of it already.

  5. Thanks guys. Your words are really encouraging and supportive. :-)

    We are holding up fine and we have a lot happening this week as tech and school starts. I am home educating our younger two and eldest (she starts Uni in March and doesn't need much guidance at all right now). I want to home educate Christian, who has suffered through bullying, but his Aspergers and size makes him difficult to handle at times so I realistically need to wait til I am stronger - though if the bullying resumes I won't hesitate now to remove him from school.

    We are fully open to whatever plans God might have for us and that those plans might never mean lecturing for Matt. However, given we do not know God's plans or intentions we should have some plans and intentions of our own and we should work towards them or else we will just be like the boat being tossed around by the waves waiting for God to intervene.

    Further, I think too that as much as we are grateful to God for his provision and as much as we trust him and have peace as to the direction our lives head in we are allowed to be frustrated and angry at legitimate things like some of the silly reasons Matt has missed out on positions over the years. There is nothing to indicate in the Bible that anger and frustration is un-Christian. Some of the psalms are incredibly angry and Jesus certainly had moments too. Christians certainly are not obligated to pretend they are always happy about everything, as long as we respond to things that upset us correctly, we don't hold onto them and bear grudges and allow them to distract us, then I think admitting what one is feeling and expressing it is healthy.

    In this circumstance, given the readership of this blog, making sure people are aware of our situation may mean someone who is looking for someone with Matt's skillset becomes aware he is available. You can't sit on your bum and wait for people to come to you - being pro-active, using the tools you have available to change your circumstances is all good! God does not expect us to wander through life with our eyes shut waiting for him to intervene, we are supposed to do stuff, make things happen for our own futures on this earth too.

    I don't want to be someone who sits here crying about what has happened to me and doing nothing to change my circumstances; I don't think God would be impressed with me for that.

    Thanks Kurt for highlighting that position. Matt actually went to St Pauls so he will be interested to look at it. He is possibly not ideally qualified for it but he could always try. I will show it to him when he gets back from Tauranga (he is doing his teaching diploma through BTI so is away til Thursday).

  6. Matt might be ideally qualified for where St Paul's "should" be heading with this position.
    Young people need discussion, not preaching, to establish values in a world that is changing at an alarmimg pace.
    The more I think about it, the more exciting I think this position could be for the school. Ground breaking really.


  7. Hey MandM... sorry to hear you're heading into a tough year, must be so much harder with wee tackers involved...

    Just wondering, how does Matt look in a Black Singlet?

    Check out my blog, I'm having my own trials and adventures in trying to make sense of life as a philosophical type who still needs to earn a $!

  8. I've expressed my condolences in an email so I won't repeat those.

    I don't think that doing a sales pitch for Matt is nepotism in the strictest sense of the word. However, IMHO there is nothing intrinsically wrong with spousal nepotism if the nepotistic spouse is realistic about the other spouse's abilities :)

    (BTW, I'm not expecting a reply to my last email, I forgot to say that)

  9. Hi Madeline,
    Apart from the intense pain you are suffering I can understand you plight. My husband is in the situation where his job does not fully provide for our family. Recently I was made redundant from a job that I love. I know that it won't be long before the money tree dries up. But I have found that at the time of my greatest need that God has always come to the party. As you are a most loved daughter of the king of the universe that he would provide for your needs. It may be tight for a while though. Our family motto is 'I hope in God'. During the coming weeks I will need to cling to this hope. As Christians I believe we should all cling to this hope. Take care of yourself.
    Your sister in Christ

  10. Thanks Catwoman. I am confident we will survive, I am just frustrated at some of the reasons Matt is not in full-time employment. If it was solely based on the accepted reasons people miss out on jobs I wouldn't have a problem but in some instances it has not been.

    Ultimately if God wants him in a position no amount of politics or nepotism or any of the other wrong-reasons will get in the way (and vice versa).

    However, God does not control/run every aspect of our lives; he does not always choose our parking spots, the colour of our toothbrush, what clothes we wear, what jobs we apply for and obtain. These are choices we get to make for ourselves and are sometimes prevented from making by others - it is this that I am meaning.

  11. Many Christians do not understand the difference between a calling and paid employment. A calling is what God created you to do. It is what will make a permanent difference in the world. Paid employment is what you do to support yourself and your family.

    A few Christians are able to get paid employment doing their calling, but that is not normal. People called to be pastors can often get paid employment doing pastoral work (many are actually doing management or administration). A person called to be a prophet is unlikely to get paid employment doing their calling. That is why so many become pastors, which is a pain for everyone.

    Paul was called to be a apostle, but that did not pay well, so he often took paid employment as a tentmaker. This will be the situation for most Christians. They will not be able to get someone to pay them to do their calling, so they will need paid employment in field where they have skills to earn a living, so they can carry out their calling. They should seek paid employment in a role where the can earn enough to live on as quickly as possible. This task may not be fulfilling and it may not have much eternal significance (all Paul’s tents have rotted away), but that does not matter, if it leaves lots of time for the real calling.

    Sometimes the employment will quite different from the calling. Making tents has very little to do with apostleship. Sometimes our employment will be quite different from our calling. People with intellectual callings may have to do physical work to support themselves.

    I am called to Christian economics. I have never seen a job advert for a Christian economist, so I cannot support my family doing my calling. I have found employment in a role that has very little eternal significance, but it allows me to earn a living in three days a week, which gives me plenty of time to fulfil my calling.

    Matt seems to be called to be a Christian Philosopher. That is a calling that we really need to be fulfilled. Unfortunately, employment opportunities for philosophers are rare in NZ. The solution is to find paid employment to support his family, while he works on his calling. Teaching high school students probably pays better than stitching stinking skins into tents.

    Knowing your calling is really important. Too many Christians have only ever looked for paid employment and just assume that their employment is their calling. They are frustrated, because they are not fulfilling their calling.

    Once you know your calling, finding paid employment can also be important, because it eliminates the dependence on trite promises that God will provide. Understanding the purpose of your employment removes frustation at what can sometimes seem to be pointless effort.

  12. Given the calibre of NZ Theological Instituions v their own opinions of their ability I am not surprised you have been snapped up. They don't realise how sub-standard they are.

    I went to Compass once and it was such a load of post-modern narrative theory coddswaddle. Virtually none of the speakers knew what they were talking about when they got onto philosophical matters. One of them had a BA and got several philosophers wrong (he wasn't the only one who did that either). None of them had any post-grad philosophical training. It was a bad joke yet they hailed themselves as experts, NZ's best.

    I heard they used to use real philosophers a few years back but dumped them because they thought they could do it better. That's what I am talking about right there, they don't realise they are sub-standard so they don't appreciate the talents of someone who is not.

    What did that guy say in your Laidlaw post? It didn't matter that the new head of department was not qualified in philosophy as philosophy was a discipline you can just pick up. I heard their new head of department speak and while he was one of the better speakers he still shouldn't talk on subjects outside of his field as on worldviews he didn't know what he was talking about and gave a very superficial and at times outright incorrect overview.

  13. Laidlaw are currently going through a process of trying to up their standards and raise the bar. It is not going to happen overnight but they are heading in the right direction so I am not sure that your comments are fair.

    I have never been to Compass, though Matt has, but I do know most of their speakers and they are certainly not useless. What they do is not high level philosophy but they don't claim it is either.

    We intend to send our teenagers to Compass when they are old enough.

  14. I cannot believe you are defending them.

    Matt has had his PhD in their field for how many years now? He is not unknown to them by any means, he is a good public speaker with a lot of experience talking to youth and lay people and is immensely more qualified head and shoulders better than their people and yet they do not use him at their events and they have not hired him.

    They have hired less qualified, poorer public speakers than him in his place. They invite sub-standard speakers from within their own ranks to their conferences and events. Someone told me recently that they asked Compass outright why they don't use Matt and they were told "oh yes he is great but we would rather use him in a small group setting where you can pick his brains than have him as a speaker." They want his expertise, but they want to be the ones who present it.

    I bet they can't stand it when Matt turns up to sit in the audience because they must know they aren't anywhere near as good as him.

    Look, I can't believe you are defending these turkeys. I can't believe you are still here and have not left the country, shaken the dust off your feet and left them to get boiled.

  15. I don't want to go here, neither does Matt.

    The reason we are "still here" is that we know the people and the institutions you are trashing. None of those people or those institutions are under any obligation to us and as private institutions their hiring choices are theirs to make based on their criteria. (Yes I get frustrated when the criteria is based on erroneous assumptions but I never said it was Laidlaw or Compass I was talking about)

    It is our life, our situation to assess, not yours. While I appreciate that you back Matt I am not sure that your efforts are helping us and I would prefer it if you did not write such things on our behalf.

  16. May be you should make some revenue from this blog? Like recommending books via Amazon affiliate program?


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