Vocation

I work as an Executive Search Consultant, finding leaders for nonprofit organizations. Like most jobs, it is challenging, but unlike many, it is generally quite rewarding. I get to work with very interesting and inspiring mission-driven organizations all over the country, helping them find the leaders they need, either in the Executive Director role or as a senior program manager or administrator. For example, I am currently working on a search for a new Executive for a food bank in San Diego that serves many thousands of families every year, providing healthy food for those who can’t afford it. And on the other side of the country, I am looking for a new Executive for a loan fund in Baltimore that finances small housing rehabilitation projects in struggling neighborhoods around that city. All organizations, whether business or nonprofit, need not only excellent executives but capable managers and staff throughout the organization, if they are to achieve their mission.

Not everyone is a leader. Martin Luther said that doesn’t matter – all vocations are channels of God’s love and that God is active in everyday human labor, family responsibilities and social interactions (he once said that God himself is active in milking cows through the vocation of the milkmaid!). Yet we often aspire to roles where we can have real impact. I am keenly aware of this reality, both from having a 2015 college graduate in my family whose friends are actively struggling to find their place in the world of work, and from the dozens, and even hundreds of people who apply for particular jobs that I am managing. People want to make a difference. It’s hard to convey to a recent graduate that a job as someone’s assistant or as a restaurant server or childcare worker is a good use of their skills. Or to someone whose job was eliminated after a corporate merger or management decision and has been looking for appropriate work for 8 months, that a retail sales job is what they can look forward to. Sometimes that full expression of our talents or calling comes in other settings than work – through family, church or other volunteer roles, and that is okay, because life is more than work.

Howard Thurman famously said “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” What are you passionate about? Discovering that is a real clue to what God has gifted you to do. Those passions may be exercised in one’s paid work, or through service or creative activity. But that is what my nonprofit clients are really looking for in potential leaders – people with good professional skills, to be sure. But more than that, they are looking for people who are able to communicate their real passion for the organization’s mission. A big part of my job is helping people and organizations recognize where their passions lie, and where they coincide with each other. That is a real privilege!

What makes you come alive? God has created us, not just for existence, but for abundant life. Isn’t it great that we happen to want the same thing for our lives that God wants for us – to be fully alive?

Loving God, thank you for calling us to be channels of your love in the world. Help us to discover the ways in which we really come alive, and to do that as much as we can, knowing that it is then that we are best able to share your love. May we do whatever we love to do to your glory. Amen.

Dave Erickson-Pearson

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