Rhonda Peterson interviews Andee Marks about vocation. What does God want for us and how can we let him lead us there?
It's a powerful journey that we must take to fulfill the master plan He made for us long ago.
Rhonda Peterson interviews Andee Marks about vocation. What does God want for us and how can we let him lead us there?
It's a powerful journey that we must take to fulfill the master plan He made for us long ago.
The Bold & Courageous Leader Podcast: Episode 1
Welcome to the Bold & Courageous Leader Podcast from rhondapeterson.com. This is Rhonda Peterson, your Bold & Courageous Leader Coach. Today, our guest is Andee Marks and I’m going to let Andee introduce herself in just a moment. Today’s topic is vocare, something that Andee and I both are very passionate about and I know that Andee has a great ability to communicate what vocare is and how we step into that. So, without further ado, Andee, what should our podcast listeners know about Andee Marks?
Andee: Thank you, Rhonda. I am really excited about doing this podcast. It’s something new for me, so the world should know this is my very first podcast and I have been looking forward to it for several weeks now. I have been teaching and speaking with folks for years about their unique design for ministry, their God-given design for ministry. I love coming alongside people and helping them discover their spiritual gifts, their talents, their abilities, how they can put those to work for the Kingdom of God. Only in the last, probably, couple of years have I really turned my attention to vocation, to incorporating that whole thought process around vocation and applying that to the Church. That’s been my primary focus in teaching and speaking over the last couple of years. I enjoy coming alongside ministry leaders in churches and nonprofit organizations to help them design processes and systems for people development and for volunteer management. I am a Vocational Deacon in the Anglican Church of North America and I currently serve as Pastor of Ministry Development at St. Patrick’s Anglican Church here in Lexington, Kentucky.
Rhonda: Andee, you have a very full plate. This is not a newsflash. I mean you and I have known that for quite some time but what you have described here is only a section of who you are, but it is a very important section. Mainly, because I know you are a wife, a mother and the grammy for some really awesome grandchildren.
Andee: Thank you.
Rhonda: So, how was your interest sparked about vocare?
Andee: Well, as I said, for probably fifteen to eighteen years, probably more like eighteen years, I focused my attention on spiritual gifts and helping people understand how they were designed to work in the Church. A couple of years ago I was preparing a workshop for an ecumenical group of ministry leaders and this concept of vocation kept surfacing in my mind. So, just out of curiosity, I googled vocation, because, you know, that’s what you do when, you know, you get a new thought and the first thing you do is go google it. And Wikipedia’s definition really caught my attention. I already knew that vocation, the word vocation comes from the Latin vocare and it means “to call.” But I also learned that the meaning of the term truly did originate in Christianity. I thought it did but I learned that it did, though it is now used, in current culture, it’s the term that that we apply to an occupation, that somebody is particularly qualified for or that they’re drawn to. So, if you’ll bear with me, I want to quote from Wikipedia, because they just said it really well. “The idea of vocation is central to the Christian belief that God has created each person with gifts and talents oriented toward specific purposes and a way of life. In the Orthodox and Catholic churches, this idea of vocation is especially associated with the divine call to service to the church and humanity through particular vocational life commitments.” In other words, such as consecration as a religious, or ordination to priestly ministry in the church.
Rhonda: Uh huh.
Andee: But here’s the best part from Wikipedia. “In the broader sense, Christian vocation uses one’s gifts in their profession, family life, church and civic commitments for the sake of the greater common good.” When I read that, I about fell out of my chair. Isn’t that rich that Wikipedia understands that a Christian is called to serve in their profession, in their family life and in their community, not just in their church? That’s just incredible to me.
Rhonda: I would agree with that, that is.
Andee: Because the Church misses that totally and has for years and years.
Rhonda: It’s not that we’re beating up on the Church or anything.
Andee: No. No. No.
Rhonda: We just need to expand as the church.
Andee: Right. Right. Well, I feel like I can beat up on the Church because I’m kind of on the inner circle of the Church. You can see the faults from that perspective.
Andee: I mean the church is going to be flawed because it’s made up of human beings and we’re all flawed, but I think the important thing I think we need to understand is that our culture, we’ve become such a consumer-crazed culture and that’s just translated itself to the church. And so, we come to church on Sunday’s or maybe mid-week and we come as consumers. We come to get what we can get instead of thinking about it, in terms of, exercising our vocation, as well as, growing and expanding our vocation so that we can take it out into the rest of the world, which is what the church is called to do. That’s God’s mission. So, the other thing that caught my attention is the opposite of vocation is, of course, avocation, an activity that we engage in as a hobby outside our main occupation. For many of us, our professions are simply the way we make our living. Our vocation, we understand vocation as, the job that we go to, to make a living. But the activities outside of our workplace are where our true passion, and our, and the best of our energy. So, that led me to ask, how many of our members, our church members, see ministry as their avocation, rather than their vocation? And what would happen in the church if people had a proper understanding and discovery of their vocation as a calling from God?
Rhonda: I don’t even know where to go next.
Andee: Let me just say that I think as, as a person discovers his or her vocation, then the diversity becomes so rich, then we stop living for ourselves and we begin living for something greater, which is, that’s our call as Christians. And in this process, I think we become true to ourselves through this experience of interdependence. When we realize, when I realized that I have a calling and you Rhonda, you have a calling, you know, my husband has his calling and your husband has his calling, nobody gets to do everything. Nobody needs to do everything and so we learn to become interdependent, relying on somebody else to do, to fulfill their calling so that we’re freed up to fulfill ours.
Rhonda: You mean like when you just told me a few minutes ago that I didn’t necessarily need to learn every piece of software that was out there, in order to make my podcast really sound wonderful?
Rhonda: So, we should just apply it to everyday life.
Andee: That’s right. Because, you know, while I’m applying it to what goes on in the church, I honestly do believe that this can be taken into the marketplace and it would be so effective there. Corporations would be so much more effective, so much more efficient in the way that they go about their business and I think the world would be a better place because we wouldn’t all be vying for floor space, you know, I mean, seriously.
Rhonda: Yeah, the, the pinnacle job, whatever that is defined as in your world, and actually Andee, I love the fact that you said that because as you and I know from our walk together, that you are definitely called to the church and I am definitely called to the marketplace, even though we are both very passionate about the same thing; vocare. That’s the really neat part of it if you look at it, truthfully in the marketplace, the term engagement is probably more how you would look at vocare playing out in the marketplace. If you are engaged in the work that you’re doing, you are probably in your place of vocare.
Andee: That is true. I would agree with that.
Rhonda: I was going to ask you what vocare is, but I think you’ve pretty much wrapped that up. You have very clearly stated that vocare is our vocation. I love the fact that when you brought in Wikipedia, you talked about avocation along with that, because we do see a lot of people, and actually I’m married to someone, who lived many years of his life with a vocation that was how he had his paycheck and an avocation which were the things that brought meaning to his life. And personally, I just see that as a very sad thing, that we can’t move into that space of meaning being part of our professional life. Can you talk a little bit about how vocare is related to leadership since we are talking to Bold & Courageous leaders?
Andee: I think an effective leader is self-aware. I just believe that the best leaders have a good, solid understanding of how God has wired them. That’s the way that they get freed up to lead. Parker Palmer wrote a book called, Let Your Life Speak and I have just a little quote here from his book about vocation. He writes, “Vocation does not mean a goal that I pursue. It means a calling that I can hear. Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am.” He goes on to say, “Discovering vocation does not mean scrambling toward some prize just beyond my reach, but accepting the treasure of true self I already possess. Vocation does not come from a voice out there calling me to be something that I am not. It comes from a voice, in here, calling me to be the person I was born to be. To fulfill the original selfhood given me, at birth, by God. The deepest vocational question is not, what am I to do with my life. It is the more elemental and demanding, who am I and what is my nature?” So, there is a self-acceptance, I think, that comes, when we understand our vocation, when we know our vocation because we become secure in who we are. We know what we are called to do and so we can more effectively lead others in what they are called to do because we’re no longer focused on what we think we want or need. When we understand that we are operating out of God’s calling and equipping, then we’re free to lead others and encourage them to do the same thing.
Rhonda: And we are not threatened by those others because it’s the interdependence that we have that allows us to lead self and lead others to the place that God is calling all of us to go together.
Rhonda: That’s really powerful.
Andee: I don’t know if you’re familiar, I think you are. I think we’ve talked about this before but one of the key passages I teach from, and again, remembering that most of my teaching is done with pastors, but one of the key passages that I teach from is Ephesians 4, verses 11 through 13. And I, in that passage Paul is talking about how Christ gave the apostles, the profits, the evangelists, and the shepherd-teachers to equip the people for the work of ministry. I love Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of this in The Message, I just think it is so beautiful. So, “Christ has given these roles of apostle, pastor, profit, teacher to equip the work of ministry until we are all moving rhythmically and easily with each other. Efficient and graceful, in response to God’s Son. Fully mature adults. Fully developed within and without. Fully alive, like Christ.” I think that’s beautiful.
Rhonda: I agree with that.
Andee: Seeing that, he talks that we’re fully mature, we’re fully developed within and without. So, there’s no need for this constant vying for position, for our rights because we become fully Christlike and we are able to just live into our calling, and again, help others to do that same thing and just relish that interdependence.
Rhonda: I have to agree with you. I love the way that Eugene Peterson says that. And it is a picture that, to be honest with you, I don’t know that I’ve ever experienced that at this point in my life. But I sure would like to and I think there are places where I’ve gotten closer to that and places where sometimes I’ve been part of the problem that we can’t get there. If we’re being really transparent right now, one of the things, since we’re talking about Ephesians, which is interesting about your call to the church and my call to the marketplace, is the verse in Ephesians that’s very meaningful for me is Ephesians 2:10, which talks about that we are God’s masterpiece, created anew in Christ Jesus for the work that He created for us long ago. And as I was listening to you talk about how those in leadership positions in the church are called to build up the body of Christ, and I would argue that if you are in the marketplace you are called to build up those around you.
Rhonda: OK if you insist. There are those around you, we get so many things stuck to us by others saying you should do this or this would be good for you.
Rhonda: And we were kind of talking about that just a couple of minutes ago. But being created anew in Christ Jesus, that masterpiece that he created us, as you talked about, in the beginning, just a few minutes ago, we have to shed some of those things that others have said, that you need to strive for this, you have to this, you need to recognize that it’s truly and honestly who God created us to be, so that we can have the self-awareness to know who we are.
Andee: Exactly. I think, what you were saying earlier, your comment that it’s difficult to experience that kind of rhythmic movement together that Peterson speaks of, particularly in the marketplace. And I think, one of the biggest reasons for that, obviously, is that so many people are not even aware of their calling they’re not, so they are not living into that. They’re doing something like you were talking about your husband, that is not their passion. It’s not how they are gifted and called, but they’re just earning a living. Doing what they can do or as you said, what somebody has told them and it creates this dis-ease. That make it difficult, in more ways than one. Doesn’t it?
Andee: It makes is very difficult to have that kind of cohesive, efficient, effective movement whether it’s in the church or the marketplace. So, as a, as a leader in the church and as a leader in the marketplace our desire, our goal should be first and foremost to understand our own calling, to get good and comfortable with that and then to encourage others to do the same thing. It’s a long process and it’s pretty idealistic, I guess, but I mean, what are we if we don’t strive for ideals, right?
Rhonda: I was just going to say, idealistic or having a goal or a picture, or a vision of what things could be and moving toward it.
Rhonda: It depends on how you want to look at the picture would be my answer to that.
Andee: For those who pray the Lord’s Prayer regularly there’s this little section of it that says “thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on Earth, as it is in Heaven.” And so we pray that regularly but do we really pray that regularly?
Rhonda: Or should we say, do we believe that it’s really going to happen, that the kingdom can come here on Earth?
Andee: So, what do we think kingdom is going to look like? Is it going to look like the chaos we work in, you know, for so many of us? No. I don’t think so.
Rhonda: I hope not.
Andee: God is not the author of chaos.
Rhonda: Yes. I would hope so too. We’ve been talking about how leadership fits into vocare. I’d like to take it up a notch and ask the question, how is vocare related not just to leadership but to being a Bold & Courageous leader specifically?
Andee: I think being true to yourself is to lead out with your strengths, from the core of who you are, to your calling. Coming to that place of understanding requires courage and it requires boldness. I mean you’ve got to set your mind that this is what you’re going to do, knowing that are going to be people that may not encourage you in it, as you were saying earlier, that may want to pronounce upon you, you should do this, or you should do that, and it also, whenever we start down that path of self-awareness, we’re going to learn things that may require us to change and most of us don’t like change. Change requires a certain amount of courage and a whole lot of boldness sometimes. So, we may find that we need to change our employers. We might find that we have to change our career completely. Or maybe we may not have to change our job, so much as, we have to change how we relate to it.
Rhonda: And any of those things definitely require courage and boldness.
Andee: And I’ll tell you something else that I think marks a Bold & Courageous leader, is someone who is sincerely willing to invest the time and the energy that it takes to understand how God has called them and how He has equipped them for the calling that He has on their life. It is not a quick and easy process. It takes time. It takes attention and that is, I think that is a true mark or a true quality of a Bold & Courageous leader.
Rhonda: So, saying that this is a journey, as opposed to a quick fix, would that be a fair statement?
Andee: It’s a lifetime journey, really, Rhonda. It just is.
Rhonda: Yes, I know that. That was not meant to say, ‘oh please.’ It was meant to say, ‘Yes, I am living that.’ The beauty of it, and actually this may be something that may be encouraging to others, is that the beauty of this lifetime journey, is when you find people along the path that are walking the journey also, that can walk the journey with you, it is an incredible blessing. It’s a blessing beyond words for me.
Andee: I just think, two things that just kind of crossed my mind. One is that we need to look for those kinds of people.
Rhonda: Oh yes.
Andee: But we also need to be aware that, that person may change. You know that as we grow, we may outgrow the person who is walking with us at a particular time. Or, not in terms of becoming more perfect than they are or whatever, but I mean whatever it is that they bring to our learning process, we may grow beyond that. So, then we need to be aware that we may need to look for someone else. Then as a spiritual director, I always want to remember to say to people, there may come a day when you outgrow me and so I want to encourage you, then, to find somebody else. I don’t, and there again it has to do with calling. I don’t have all the answers, and I know that. I don’t have all of the skills necessary. I don’t have it all. Somebody else has parts of it too. So, again, it has to do with calling and functioning within my calling and your calling and you functioning within your calling and there may come a time when we need to find someone with a little bit different calling. The other thing I would like to say is to young people who are listening, I’ll be honest, I’m sixty-years-old, so I’ve got some life experience to play on here. I think it’s very important for young people to know, you cannot, it is impossible, to have everything today.
Rhonda: So true.
Andee: I was so wired that way when I was young. Things would come along and I would think if I don’t do this, if I don’t grab for this right now, I may not have the chance to do it again. And that’s just not necessarily true. It may be but it may not be. And so I think when we start latching onto those things because we’re so afraid that we may not have the opportunity again, that’s one sure fire way to stray far away from our calling without ever even realizing it until you’re pretty far on the other side of it.
Rhonda: Yeah and all of a sudden, you’re out there in the middle of the island wondering what the heck you’re going to do now, how did I get here. And the other thing that I was thinking as you were saying that, Andee, is that thing that you may think that you have to grab for right now because it may be “the ultimate,” It may be something that in two years, or five years, or ten years, you may recognize that it is the furthest thing from what you really, truly needed and it was a, it was a shiny bauble, as some people in the coaching world like to talk about.
Andee: Yes, which goes back to being patient and waiting and listening and being attentive to that still small voice. All of those things that are really hard to do when we’re young and can be really hard to do when we’re older, as well.
Rhonda: I was going to ask if this changes because just for the record, I’m not quite as old as you are but I’m moving up to you fast and on any given day, it just depends on how well we can stay focused. Let’s phrase it that way.
Rhonda: What advice would you give someone who wants to become a Bold & Courageous leader, as we have been talking about?
Andee: Begin today to listen to that inner voice, that Parker Palmer speaks of. Who are you really? What is your nature? There are all sorts of assessments that you can take to help. Meyers-Briggs, of course, is really a great place to start because it’s so comprehensive. The Ideogram Personality Assessment is another really good one to start with, but there are tons out there. Strengths Finder is another one that I think is really good. I am particularly enamored of the S.H.A.P.E Model that comes out of Saddleback Church. I’ve used that for years. S.H.A.P.E is an acronym for spiritual gifts, heart, aptitude, personality and experiences and I think that’s such a comprehensive way of looking at how God has designed us. How God has equipped us to serve, again, thinking that our service is not just our church. For so long now, the church has gotten into this habit of inviting the corporate leaders to come in and lead the church and that’s not the way it’s supposed to be done. The church is supposed to be raising up leaders and sending them out into the community, out into the marketplace to be an influencer for Christ. Now, that doesn’t mean beating people over the head with your Bible. It doesn’t mean, necessarily, standing on the street corners. I’m not saying that. But who we are as Christians, that’s who we are 24/7, not just on Sunday or when we’re at church. So, to understand yourself and who you are in Christ and then take that with you wherever you go, being aware of taking that with you wherever you go.
Rhonda: Again, awareness, I notice the word awareness came up again.
Andee: Yes. Well you know, what we learn about ourselves in a ministry context can be just as applicable in the marketplace, and should be, just as applicable in the marketplace.
Andee: So, you and I did this a few years ago. We did this together through the Equipping Leader course that we took. We were encouraged to do an assessment where we gave it to somebody that we worked with, somebody in our family, a friend, and have them fill out the assessment about us. Do you remember that?
Andee: That was a real eye-opener for me. I was in a position of leadership, at that time. It was in a large Church in so I gave it to my supervisor. I gave it to somebody that I supervised. I gave it to a family member and of course my husband. You know, how can you not do it with your husband? And that can be really difficult to hear some truths about who others see you to be, how other people see things about you that you don't know about yourself. So it's, again you have to understand it kind of goes back to the earlier question of how do you become a Bold & Courageous leader, that takes some courage to do that?
Rhonda: It does and in the marketplace that would be called a 360 where you're getting feedback from a broad range of people, so 360 degrees of feedback.
Andee: That’s right.
Rhonda: And you're right, it does take courage to look internally and gain that feedback because you might hear something that you don't necessarily want to know
Andee: Exactly. In the early days of taking courses in public speaking, and what not, one of the hardest things for me was to receive the feedback that would say, you use a lot of filler words like, um, like…
Rhonda: Right, you know is one of them.
Andee: That’s right, it is. Or this noise that we make that we don't even know it. Kind of a clicking noise when we are talking and I would be adamant, no, I don't do that. I don't do that. But I did.
Rhonda: The videotape told you.
Andee: That's exactly right. That's exactly right. So, the point here is that there are always things about us that others see and recognize that we’re blind to.
Rhonda: Absolutely. Blind spots are endemic. It just is.
Andee: That can be a negative or that can be a positive thing. I mean, what happens when somebody says I really see this talent, this ability in you that is very appropriate for what you are doing I think God is calling you into this particular vocation. It's not just that you have to be Bold & Courageous enough to receive it and then act on it.
Rhonda: Exactly. Because, here might be some barrier that is keeping you from seeing this thing that God is calling you into because you don't see yourself as equipped for a million reasons, not the least of which could be somebody gave you a message early on in your life about X that causes you to reject what God’s really calling you to. Because God called a lot of people to things that other people didn't expect them to do or that they didn't expect to do.
Andee: Scripture is full of that.
Andee: I think one important thing that rises to mind out of that, is that it is absolutely critical that whatever feedback you received from others, you sit down with that before the Lord and says Is true about me? Now if it is that you use a lot of filler words when you’re speaking, you can get a video and you can test that for yourself. You made the comment that one of the roadblocks to living your calling might be that somebody spoke something negatively, against that earlier in your life, and so you’ve never even considered that that might be what God is calling you to. And so, it is really important to let God have the final say in this. It is His design. It is His calling after all.
Rhonda: So true.
Andee: So, spend some time being quiet and listening. Again, you don’t have to rush into anything but allow it to settle deep into your soul that, yes, this is who, this is the truth in me.
Rhonda: Wow, that’s really powerful. So, Andee as we close today, what is it that you would like our listeners to walk away with from this podcast?
Andee: I think most of us want to know that we have a purpose or that God has a purpose for our life. And He does. He really does. God has uniquely designed each of us. He has equipped each of us for His good purpose for our life. So, I would just want to encourage everyone who is listening, discover your unique design and you’ll be well on your way to discovering your true vocation. It’s never too late to step out Boldly and Courageously and become the leader that God is calling you to be. Go for it!
Rhonda: Thank you, Andee. That’s a great encouragement to end on. And Andee I’m going to ask you to share with me the book that you were quoting from so that people can have that information also.
Andee: Parker J. Palmer is the author. Listening to Your Life.
Rhonda: OK. And we’ll link to that in the show notes also. Andee, it has been a joy to have this conversation with you today. I thank you so much for sharing your insights and perspectives on vocare and how that interacts with being a Bold & Courageous leader.
Andee: Thank you.
To find out more about today’s topic, get downloads of our previous podcasts or to learn more about how you too can become a Bold & Courageous Leader, visit rhondapeterson.com. Our ever-growing community is waiting for you. If you liked today’s show, there are three things you can do. You can subscribe to the podcasts on iTunes or Stitcher. You can give us a rating or a review on iTunes. The subscriptions and ratings help others to find us more easily. And you can help us get the word out by sharing the podcast with your friends. This is Rhonda Peterson, your Bold & Courageous Leader Coach. Thank you for listening. We’ll see you for the next Bold & Courageous Leader Podcast.
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