How does a person transition from one career-related calling to the next? How do we know when it’s the right time? How do we discern the focus of the next “assignment”?
These are important questions for all Christ-followers to ask and address. And they are questions I’ve been personally asking myself lately, and not just because November is “career month” at Biola.
Of course, it’s always important to keep first things first, to order our priorities, or, as Augustine wrote, “to love things, that is to say, in the right order” (On Doctrine, I. 27-28).
Martin Luther — and later Os Guinness in his well-known book The Call — categorize callings into two distinct but related categories: primary and secondary. All kinds of difficulties emerge as we mis-order our priorities — for instance, making our career the top or only priority, as we read about with so many business leaders today.
At the Crowell School of Business, Paul Sohn, director of strategic roadmap initiatives, teaches a workshop required of all business administration students on calling and its relationship to career. He defines God’s calling as, “God’s personal invitation for me to work on his agenda by unleashing my unique design in ways that are eternally significant.” I love that.
Further, we teach our students that their primary calling as Christ-followers is to be in a relationship with Jesus Christ as God’s sons and daughters and disciples of Christ. We teach that their secondary calling is unique to them and relates to following Christ in their particular place, time, life circumstances, stage of life and community. This secondary calling also includes our calling as members of families — as sons or daughters, spouses, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Lastly, our secondary calling includes our vocational work, paid or unpaid and based on our unique design, wiring, gifts, abilities and circumstances.
I’ve had the privilege of serving in leadership positions at five top business schools. Crowell School of Business is the first school where we have been able to design career training clearly based on God’s unique design and purpose for people and this world. And I am proud of our faculty and staff who have endeavored to do the hard work of designing workshops in what we call the Calling and Career Roadmap.
You might wonder why these calling-related questions are on my heart. After nine years as dean of the Crowell School of Business, my wife Cindi and I have discerned that the end of this academic year is the right time for me to retire and allow new leadership to take Crowell into the next stage and to the next level. I’m not planning on any next career move. God has been generous to us, so we can be financially free to serve him beyond my professional career. And, yes, I have some ideas on what that might mean, but we enter this phase with both thankfulness and prayer for wisdom and discernment on what’s next.
So, I hope you will join me in praying for our Provost and decision-makers here, that God would put a clear calling on a faithful and gifted leader’s heart to serve as the next dean, and that the Crowell School of Business and Biola University would continue to flourish well into the future.
And I hope you will also pray with Cindi and me as we look to discover how God will use us in this next stage of life. We continue to experience God’s purposeful call on our lives.
Dr. Gary Lindblad
Dean, Crowell School of Business, Biola University