There is a lot I have forgotten from my years at the seminary, but one memory that continually resurfaces is one of the jobs I had to pay the bills my last year there: making snack mix. In the days before prepackaged Chex snack mix appeared on grocery store shelves, you had two choices. You could make it at home, which plenty of families did. Or, at least in northeast Indiana, you could but it bulk in a grocery story, who got it from a friend of mine who actually owned a little factory that made one product, snack mix.
It wasn’t especially hard work. If I remember correctly, one team opened case after case of boxes of Chex cereal and Cheerios, carefully slitting open the inner bag so it poured out just right. The second team mixed together a precise recipe of the cereal, pretzels, oil, lots of garlic, and a few peanuts in large bins. The next team would bake the mix in large aluminum trays. Some days you worked the final step, bagging up the cooled mix and boxing it up for shipment to several grocery chains.
It was a popular product. We made tons and tons of snack mix. I’m pretty sure my wife was making it right up to the day our first child was born. (I suppose that’s why it has always been one of his favorite snacks!) I think we got to bring some home to eat. But I know we always came home smelling like garlic. No threat from vampires in our home!
So when someone asks, “What do you have to do to become a pastor?” there are stories just like this, jobs of every shape and size that helped you get through seminary years that were lean in resources but rich in theology. I owe a lot to the guy who came up with the idea of making and selling “mix” so that we (and a few other seminarians) could earn a few bucks and serve the church.