Yes!" I pounded the wooden desktop as I rushed from my office into my boss'. "Lynn, I got it all: bonus spots, the discount we talked about, four extra weeks, guaranteed no charge. That's at least $50,000 right there!"
Lynn glanced up. "Great!" She continued typing.
I'd grown accustomed to Lynn's "Of course. That's what we pay account directors like you to do" attitude whenever I announced each victory in the aggressive game of negotiations I played to win—day in, day out. Unbeknownst to me, I'd also grown accustomed to the thrill of victory, and adrenalin, with every deal I hammered. I loved it—the late-night hours of research, strategy-planning, and what-if scenarios I ran through before phoning the next radio or television rep to begin negotiating on my clients' behalf. I negotiated to win, to get the best value for my clients, all or nothing.
One day I woke up and thought, "I'm 25 years old and I'm responsible for leading the team of media buyers about to purchase 24 million dollars worth of 30-second commercials on almost every radio station in Canada."
Obeying God's call to move out of Canada's ad-agency world and work as administrative pastor at my downtown Toronto Baptist church lessened the thrill of victory somewhat, but not much. After all, my hire coincided with the church's multi-million-dollar renovation. There was a lot to manage and negotiate, whether projects or people. My first big task at this new job: make it all look easy—the moving of congregation and staff out of the building into temporary offices, the interminable construction delays, meetings, moving congregation and staff back into the new church building, the opening ceremony, rental policies, rates…
I loved the ministry even though my adrenalin rushes began to lose steam. They slowed down when I dealt with the sticky part of my role—congregants who didn't understand why our congregation's ministry of hospitality, of presence, needed to be anchored to a framework of policy and procedure. But so what? I kept my chops wet with risk and crisis management, negotiations with a tenant over rental rates, dealing with agenda-driven volunteers. These were still all-or-nothing situations where I needed to fight on behalf of and for our leadership's vision for what our church could become: a place of healing and hope where faith intersected with Toronto at large. The stakes were still high.
Crash and Burn
The adrenalin dried up the evening my husband and I left Sunnybrook Hospital, newborn son in arms. For two months I flitted on the edges of postpartum depression through days and nights of nursings, diaper changes, and burps. As I stared into space one night, two thoughts remained: "I've lost it all—my profile, my momentum, my career, everything that's made me Renee. I'll never get any of it back." Five months prior, not knowing I was pregnant, I'd assumed the communications director role at Canadian Baptist Women of Ontario and Quebec (CBWOQ), a women's missions organization.