Not long after leaving university Richard Kelley had a vision that God was telling him to teach, but he secretly hoped he’d got the message wrong and spent a lot of his energy running away from teaching, but God, it seemed, had other plans.
Richard’s journey really began at university where he studied Physics before graduating in the middle of the last recession (2009). Graduate jobs weren’t as plentiful as they once were so his mum suggested he apply to do a PGCE (teaching qualification) as the government were offering very lucrative bursaries for physicists.
‘I couldn’t think of anything worse but, after one of the only charismatic experiences of my life where I had a vision of God telling me to teach, I dutifully did as she suggested. Unfortunately, and much to my horror, I was offered a place at King’s College London to start that September. I wasn’t prepared to give in without a fight, however, and so I spent the next year in denial by vainly attempting to escape the inevitable by doing a masters degree in sustainable to forge a new career in engineering. However, as Jonah discovered, running away from God is rarely a successful tactic and so this gambit failed and a year later I still found myself doing the PGCE.’
Still in denial, Richard made sure to loathe every part of his PGCE and to make it as difficult as possible for himself, his next tactic was to sabotage every job interview he went to by telling them he didn’t want to be a teacher.
‘I still went to the interviews because I wasn’t quite prepared to take the Jonah method of getting on the boat out of there, I was rather hoping God would just change His mind. This worked right up to the point I went for an interview at Sexey’s in Bruton where the deputy head turned out to be my metaphorical big fish by being more faithfully tuned into God than I was. She sent me away to pray, she did the same, and the next thing I knew they’d given me the job despite my protestations.’
Richard took the job and ended up in Somerset as a physics teacher. Over the next few years, he went on to become the school’s chaplain and, as he says, ‘in a story far more complicated than a few words can explain, I ended up here. Suffice to say I have now given up on running away from God and find running towards Him to be a much more rewarding (and frankly easier) way of living.’