I left Nazareth in January of 2020 and did not know what the next season of life had in store for me, however I did feel the sense that I desired a break from full time ministry as I had been working with Young Life since graduating from JMU in 2013. Furthermore, I was curious about what life in America could be like for me as I had given most of my 20’s to living and serving in the Holy Land (ages 24-29). Also, I wanted to become a supporter of others doing ministry because I now knew a lot about the stress of fundraising.
I moved to Denver, Colorado to work with a friend who has a few small businesses and make a little bit of money for what I thought would be a few months as I transitioned back. The plan was to give some intentional time throughout those months to my questions of “what’s next?” Well, I definitely got time to sit and think as COVID hit in March and changed the world and the way we live. Those first few weeks and months felt like a dream to me, maybe you can relate. Many times I asked myself, “Was this really happening?” Luckily one of my friend’s small businesses was making wood art (@vintagemodern5280 on Instagram) so at least we had something we could do to fill our time and make a few dollars despite the quarantining and hours spent inside.
But as I sat on the balcony day after day and thought about what I could and would want to give my life to…there were no answers, at least not how I expected them to come. I prayed for clarity about my future and of course wanted to do something that I was passionate about and could enjoy as a career. When I wasn’t thinking or working, I started a few new intentional habits.
The first habit was waking up early, usually around 6am, and spending the first hour/two hours of my day reading my bible, meditating on the wisdom from it, and simply “just being”. This time became sacred to me because I felt it was the only time during the day that I could remove all distractions. Nobody was asking anything of me, I didn’t feel like I “had to do something” like work, and the world outside was still quiet. Also, starting everyday seeing beautiful sunrises just does something to my perspective of life and what matters. The second habit I chose to develop was exercising, usually with a soccer ball. I had given much of my life to the sport of soccer and have developed a bit of mastery through the years. I believe when you have some mastery over something, it is much more enjoyable. I already have the foundation of skill developed, so when trying a new technique or move, I don’t have to struggle through all the learning stages for as long and achieve my goal quicker.
Weeks continued to pass and as I stayed consistent in prayer and considering what was next, I realized, “Zack, what are you giving your free time to? Studying The Scriptures more, listening to sermons and podcasts about faith, and kicking a soccer ball around.” My guess is we’ve all heard the hopeful idea – Work in something you love and have passion for. If during the time that I get to choose what I do I decide to play soccer and develop my personal faith, seems like it would make sense to find a job that includes those things.
The next step was to follow through on this realized dream for the working part of my life. It’s nice to have a dream, but no action behind it means it will just stay a dream. After a cross country drive back to Northern Virginia to attend a friend’s wedding, I met with my mentor and said, “Here’s what I want to be about…Jesus, Soccer, and in some way International.” He responded saying he knew a guy, Cliff Wright, who had similar interests and that I should give him a call. Once I returned to Denver I did just that. Cliff and I connected instantly over the phone and after an interview a few months later I got to combine a few passions of my life and began working for Missionary Athletes International. Here I go, back into the ministry field, with purpose and intention.