With a resume including service in Iraq and communications experience in the government and non-profit sectors; an infectious personality; and an uncanny ability to make you think, Jonathan Shradar was well on his way to the top of his field. So why did he uproot his beautiful family and move to the opposite coast to become a student?
I was blessed to meet this fellow Nebraskan through his fiance, now wife, when we worked together in ministry at National Community Church. We miss the Shradars daily, but it is exciting to see how they are making a difference in the lives of others and their new community in Washington state. I am pleased to share the story of Jonathan's New Beginning here...
How did you know it was time to make a change?
The process of making the big change from a world of political communications to ministry took awhile but it started with restlessness that there “must be something more meaningful.” I loved the work I was doing and having the opportunity to be the spokesman for a government agency was amazing. But as I faced transition from that appointment I began to wrestle with the need to find something more “redemptive.” Don’t get me wrong, the political realm is vitally important and much is being done there to help people, but I found myself increasingly drawn to the non-profit world to help save lives. After more than a year with a global health organization it became clear to me that I needed to move from seeing lives saved to seeing souls saved!
What gave you the confidence you needed to move forward?
My faith was my greatest source of confidence - which seems appropriate given that I am in Christian ministry! But the other key source of confidence and encouragement was my wife Stacy. She had as much, if not more, to lose if we made the wrong decision. I asked her to uproot her life and move across country with a six month old child and no guarantee of what our future would look like. Stacy proved to have greater faith than me and her words of assurance and permission were what I needed to move forward. If I can recommend anything to others thinking of a similar change it is this: find a good partner!
Who/what inspires you today?
I am finding inspiration in the people I get to interact with each day. From people hearing truth for the first time to those determining to live for something greater than themselves, I am energized by them. These people are not statistics and I don’t care how they vote. Instead, I want them to know their truest self.
What are you dreaming about now?
Right now I am dreaming about being in the same place for thirty to forty years. In ministry you can move around quite a bit but I am finding a new restlessness that is engendering in me a desire to be rooted at a church and within a community for the rest of my life. The depth of relationships, the ability to witness long-term transformation and growth, this is what I am dreaming about.
What is the best piece of advice you have received?
“Keep your head down and don’t die.” I heard this from a number of people as I headed off to Iraq for a detail with the State Department during the height of the war. While I am not sure of the implications of this advice today in ministry, it came in handy then and I expect it might sometime in the future!
What do you know now that you wish you would have known when you started?
As I approach 40, I have realized the importance of purposeful adventure in my life. With a load of responsibilities and only so much time in the day, we can be overcommitted to the destination and miss the scenery. I wish I would have been more intentional about making life an adventure when I started out. From hikes off the road to spontaneous dance parties at home with the kids, there is so much to experience and we are an inch away from missing it.
What encouragement can you offer someone who wants to make a change but is apprehensive?
When you think deeply about it, you really have nothing to lose. If you are making the change for something you are passionate about (and it is legal), go for it. Even if things get tight financially or you don’t fully know what tomorrow will hold, when you can use your energy for something you are passionate about you have found the best place on earth.