When Jonathan Shradar was first featured on this blog, he had left his career in public service and moved across the country with his wife and daughter to begin the journey toward full-time ministry. Shortly thereafter, he completed seminary, and he and his wife moved to Washington State, where they added a beautiful son to their family.
But he didn't stop there. Since then, they have moved yet again - this time to Southern California, where he is now a lead pastor, and he and his wife are preparing to add a third child to the family! Read on to learn about how and why Jonathan kept pursuing New Beginnings...
Can you tell our readers what prompted the change(s) of direction in your life and career over the past few years?
After we made the initial big jump of career change, each subsequent transition has seemed easier and more purposeful. Once I was through with seminary I knew I wanted to eventually be in a leadership role in a church and the opportunities I pursued were all building blocks toward that. From taking on different projects to moving another long distance, it was following after my passion and what I believed I was meant to do.
It can be tempting to see a "New Beginning" as one fixed and finite change, when in reality, our life paths often twist and turn and twist again before we find where we are supposed to be and what we are supposed to do. What advice can you share with someone who has already made a big change but feels the calling or desire to transition again? What factors should they consider? How can they know whether another move is part of their path/calling?
I think some of us are just built to pursue change and I recognize daily the desire for “newness” even in my life. Since I have not sensed a call to make another drastic change I have been investing in smaller “new beginnings” in my life. Whether it is a new writing project or a friendship to pursue we can tap into new opportunities every day. I think a key thing to evaluate if you are contemplating another big change is who it will impact. At this stage of my life I am the sole provider for my wife, soon-to-be three kids, and our two crazy dogs. They are all on board for the risk of pursuing our dreams but I may have to channel that desire in ways that benefit them and give some stability. Otherwise, how can you know for sure whether a move is part of your path? How did I know when I fell in love? How did I land on a favorite color or type of music? I think you just know. If it is a burning inside your heart that won’t subside, it is probably worth thinking through.
A number of our readers have struggled to start a family. In previous interviews, women have shared how they have pursued adoption and medical intervention to help fulfill their dreams of expanding a family. You and Stacy have been blessed with two biological children. Can you talk about your decision to add to your family through adoption and where you are in the process?
I honestly don’t know if there are any desires that can have a deeper impact on people then to have children – and we have been so blessed to walk with friends hoping, waiting, and finally holding the gifts that children are. Stacy and I have always talked about adopting because of the vast need and having two wonderful kids we felt like now was the time. For us adoption is a clear reflection of our faith. We believe Jesus, through the cross, made it possible for us to be adopted into the family of God and we want to do the same for others in need. The process is a story in itself! Just like moving into a new beginning, it has been an opportunity for us to trust God’s plan and provision and in the months we have been working toward adoption we have been so encouraged by the way our families, friends, and strangers have come alongside to help. Just this last week we were pre-approved to adopt a sweet two-year-old little girl. We now wait for the rest of the government process to happen and hope to bring our “Baby Grace” home sometime this year.
In your last interview, you spoke of wanting to be in the same place for 30-40 years. Is this still a passion? Do you think you are finally in the community in which you can put down roots?
Yes! I looked back at the interview in 2014 and I could clearly remember the desire to be planted in a place and not long after that came the opportunity to join some amazing people in San Diego who were willing to have me commit to them for the rest of my career. I think there is amazing value in the level of influence we can have by putting in time with people and while I often need to be reminded to be patient, I think this is exactly the place to be for a long time.
Put on your Pastor hat. Is there one message you try to convey above all else when counseling people in the midst of transition?
In our church we talk a lot about God’s control over all things so in transition it is our trust in Jesus that becomes our rudder and comfort. Life is not easy, and no one ever promised it would be so I don’t think there is much point in exhausting ourselves in an attempt to be the sovereign of the universe. Let’s pursue our passions, live to glorify God and trust that He works all things for our good.
Finally, knowing you are a voracious reader, can you share what you are reading now? Are there any longstanding favorites you would recommend for someone in the process of considering change or pursuing passions?
This week I am reading a classic and a contemporary book on how to live out faith in worthwhile ways. The first is The Mark of the Christian by Francis Schaeffer and the second is Good Faith by Gabe Lyons and Dave Kinnaman. They are good reminders that my faith is not just for me, but meant to help others.
Another recent book that is among my favorites for the year so far is Jared C. Wilson’s The Story of Everything: How You, Your Pets, and the Swiss Alps Fit Into God's Plan for the World. I think yoga could be included in the list as well. Wilson is a fun writer who makes you think about important things and for those contemplating major change, why not think through how your passions are part of the bigger picture.
Otherwise I would recommend finding stories of other brave souls doing hard but important things to inspire you. For me the biography of Dietrich Bonheoffer by Eric Metaxas what just that sort of thing.