A few weeks ago, I listening to a sermon by my friend Kenny Benge, pastor of St. Johns Anglican Church in Franklin, Tennessee. Towards the end, Kenny spoke on the subject of our purpose in life and read the following quote from the English Puritan William Perkins:
Concerning children: it is the duty of parents to make choice of fit callings for them, before they apply them to any particular condition of life. And that they may judge rightly what callings their children are fit for, they must observe two things in them: first, their inclination; secondly, their natural gifts—And here all parents must be warned that the neglect of this duty is a great and common sin—
— William Perkins, A Treatise of the Vocations (PDF)
When we think about callings, we tend to focus on our own calling, the process of discovering it and then fulfilling it. Perhaps we are part of a particularly self-absorbed generation, or perhaps this is simply human nature to think of ourselves first and others second. Rarely do we think about calling in terms of helping someone else find their calling.
Leading up to Mother’s Day, I’ve seen several articles that deal with the topic of mothering as a calling, either as a calling in itself, as part of a woman’s larger set of callings, or as a circumstance of life apart of any notion of “calling.” Never having been a mother, I won’t address that vocation. As a parent, however, this statement from Perkins caught me up short: Am I helping my children find their callings? How could I even begin to do that? Continue reading Helping Your Children Find Their Callings
It was my first business trip as Associate Director for InterVarsity’s Emerging Scholars Network, and it was going great. I had visited a couple of my oldest friends, who soon became my first financial supporters. At their church, they had introduced me to a PhD candidate who immediately understood and appreciated the idea behind ESN. This job is going to be easy, I thought. Then the PhD candidate said, “There’s someone you’ve got to meet. She’s the associate dean for the largest university in the state, and she’s sitting right over there in the first pew.” Excellent! Another convert to the cause of ESN.
“Hi, my name is Mike, and I work with InterVarsity’s Emerging Scholars Network”
“Really?” Her eyebrow went up. “What do you do?”
“I help students who are trying to get their PhDs and become professors.”
“Oh? And do you have a PhD?”
I didn’t like where this was going. “No, I don’t.”
“Then how could you possibly help?”
The conversation went downhill from there. At one point, she even said, “I don’t see the point in trying to ‘help’ students trying to become professors. If they can’t make it on their own, they don’t deserve to make it at all.”
Here was the exact kind of person that I thought would support my work wholeheartedly, and instead she dismissed it as a complete waste of time. Continue reading When Others Dismiss Your Work
I left the perfect job – twice.
This is a scary post to write because it’s so personal, but it explains a lot about why this blog is so important to me. The first time I left the perfect job, it was because I thought there was a better plan waiting for me (and there was). The second time, I had no plan at all – I just knew I needed to leave. This week, I’m sharing the story of how I left the first perfect job.
Leaving the First Perfect Job
In 2006, I was working for the Cincinnati Better Business Bureau, leading an ethics program for local charities. And I loved it. The people were great, the work was both challenging and fulfilling, and, though I had only worked for the organization for a couple of years, I had received an important promotion that led to an increased role in the organization’s strategic development. It provided the right blend of conceptual (“What does it mean to be an ethical nonprofit?”) and pragmatic (“How can I get more people to participate in our program?”) challenges that I enjoy.
The longer I worked there, though, the more I began to feel there was something missing, something more that I could be doing with my particular skills and passions. At about this time, my wife gave me a copy of Bill Hybel’s Courageous Leadership. One part of the book has stuck with me (here I’m paraphrasing):
If you don’t think God has given you a vision, have you ever asked him for one?
So, for the next 6 months, that was my prayer: Lord, please give me a vision. At the end of that time, I received one. Continue reading Leaving the Perfect Job – The First Time