The phone call was a surprise.  An old chum from school days in Salem.  “Sam, I’m going to be in Seattle next week, can we catch breakfast somewhere?”  I picked a spot down the hill from our rental house in Montlake, across the canal from Husky Stadium.  We’d sent the owner a written offer to buy the 1920s Cape Cod on contract, as my fledgling consulting business was not old enough to qualify for a bank loan.  He kept saying he was willing, but “not now.”  Our son Samuel had just turned one, and I was enjoying my little entrepreneurial venture after working for a prominent public-relations firm for a decade.  I was blessed to have a bevy of good clients, including World Vision, CRISTA Ministries and Habitat for Humanity.  This was an answer to prayer, as I had increasingly felt the Lord leading me toward vocational ministry after I helped a large church in Redmond navigate land-use and public-perception challenges to site a new church.  In fact, I kept trying to persuade World Vision, CRISTA and Habitat to hire  me full time.  For a tad more than my monthly fees, one could have hired me.  But “not now.”

Martin Barrett greeted me with a bear hug at our breakfast.  We were Fairmount Hill neighbors and did Young Life together at his house on Mondays.  After the catch-up pleasantries, he popped the question:  “Have you and Jennifer ever thought about moving to Salem?”  Turns out he and another buddy, Peter Chamberlain, were on the board of a start-up ministry called Salem Leadership Foundation, soon to be working with churches and community.  Peter and I grew up at St. Paul’s Parish together and played baseball/basketball at Leslie and South High.  Two of my best buds, and they wanted to know if I might be interested in applying for the job of executive director.  Even though my mind was saying ‘there’s no way’ my spirit was open.

I never make big decisions without Jennifer.  We weren’t planning to leave Seattle – heck, Jennifer’s from Seattle!  We were trying to buy the house, we had a toddler, I had a new business under way … we went to prayer.  We felt peace.  It was just an interview, after all, not a firm job offer.  Let’s see what the Lord might have in mind.Long story short, we received the offer.  Full-time vocational ministry.  Not in Seattle, but in Salem!  We felt peace, even though it meant a lot of changes.  On the checklist: notify landlord.  I wrote him a letter with our 30-day notice and mailed it one afternoon.  The next day he called.  “Hi Richard, how did you get my 30-day-notice letter so fast?”  “What letter?  What notice?” he asked.  “I’m calling to tell you I’m ready to sell the house.”  Instead of being hurt, confused or angry, we felt peace.  This was our confirmation.  This was our “now,” surprising as the details turned out to be.

With the season of Passover, Good Friday and Easter on the horizon, what are your ‘not-now’ situations?  May the Lord provide clarity and peace.


SLF IS HIRING – THIS TIME FOR BUSINESS MANAGERSam’s not the only SLF’er who will be retiring in 2024.  Our amazing Linda Dolar will leave SLF after Fancy Friday in June, so we are accepting applications for Business Manager. 

A job description is available at and resumes with cover letters can be sent to Kyle Dickinson ( through March 31.  Exciting times at SLF!