By Kevin Lum
I’ve been weighing my options for this post for quite some time, meditating and soul-searching for the best way to say what I feel; in fact, I struggled quite a bit.
God gave me the words.
For me, writing is cathartic and this blog post is an attempt at therapy, to simultaneously explain and better understand (personally) the true reason I left a very lucrative career in the oil industry to become a part-time youth pastor. I am sure that by now everyone knows that I resigned from my position as an offshore electrician onboard Ensco Rig DS-7. In my resignation letter, I mentioned that I believe in my heart that God has a plan for each one of His children.
I believe this to be true…first and foremost, I believe it is God’s will for each person to accept the eternal, free gift of salvation found only through the sacrifice of the shed blood of His Son Jesus Christ. (1 Timothy 2:4, John 3:16, 1 John 1:9) Second, I believe it is God’s will to have an ongoing, daily and sanctifying relationship with all Christians. (Revelation 3:20) Third, I believe it is God’s will for each Christian to share their faith, teach others about Christ and baptize others. (Matthew 28:19-20) Lastly, I believe that it is God’s will for us to make personal (sometimes radical) sacrifices in the name of following Christ. (Luke 14)
Don’t believe me? See for yourself…”Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24, ESV) In this chapter, Jesus was trying very hard to get his disciples to understand who HE TRULY WAS: the prophesied Messiah. He explained to them that He was going to die and resurrect three days later. Peter, impetuous as ever, rebuked Jesus but the Master was having none of it. Even if His followers were short on understanding, Jesus was not: He was quite adamant about the fact that they would face adversity, trials, sorrow and eventually persecution.
From an intellectual standpoint, I have known this truth for quite some time. Only when I began to truly attempt to follow Christ did it become real to me. It is this wish to follow in the footsteps of Christ that caused me to leave the offshore drilling world.
In 2007, I started working for Pride Offshore as a roustabout. I enjoyed the work and soon began to feel at home on a rig, identifying with my co-workers and the way of life. The money and benefits were great and soon enough I was promoted to electrician trainee, a position I held until 2010 when I was transferred to the Deep Ocean Clarion drillship project in South Korea. In 2013 I was transferred again, this time to the Ensco DS-7 drillship project a rig that would be drilling in Angola. I resigned from my position as an electrician with Ensco PLC in August 2014.
During the nearly seven years that I worked in the oil industry, I met people from all corners of the world. They hailed from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas, Tennessee, Nevada, Lithuania, Croatia, South Africa, France, Ireland…the list goes on and on. I can say without a doubt in my mind that some of the very best people I have ever met in my life work on offshore oil rigs, regardless of their reputation or the image that they try to portray.
Even though each rig hand is different, every person is there for a common reason: to provide for their family. I know that it’s hard to understand, but offshore oil workers (rig hands) develop an unspoken bond. This bond develops and grows through common sacrifice, especially since many times you spend more time with your rig family than you do with your blood family; such is the nature of the profession. You understand that you are part of something special, something that most people can never imagine or experience outside the unique world of offshore drilling.
When I stepped off the airplane for the last time a few weeks ago, I was elated to be following Gods will, home with my family yet simultaneously scared at the prospects of the future. Life is a trade-off and I knew that I would be exchanging one set of worries for another; however, I had stepped out on faith, trusting God to honor His word and provide. I just didn’t know how I was going to struggle with the idea of no longer being a rig hand.
That changed a couple days ago.
Shawn and I were driving back from a Braves game in Atlanta; he had fallen asleep and I was left alone with my thoughts. Suddenly on the radio I heard Toby Mac’s song entitled: “Lose My Soul” and I knew God was speaking to me. I came home and opened my Bible to Matthew 16 and read the following words: “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:26)
This morning I spent some time on the porch with my coffee and God and I finally felt peace in my heart. Without a doubt I know that my family and I have made the right decision, especially since it is God’s will. It is true that I will never become rich while serving God and working in the ministry. It is true that I will not make the same money in ministry that I did on an offshore oil rig. It’s true that I left some of my best friends, my second FAMILY in fact, in the name of following Christ. It’s true that from a human standpoint, the future is uncertain.
And because of my promised eternal reward…I’m ok with that.