Patrick Wright pulled into the parking lot of Columbia’s Eastminster Presbyterian Church to drop his son at a church activity and watched for a few minutes while his son and fellow Boy Scout troop members helped folks get their cars parked before the event. Patrick’s attention was diverted for a moment by a sign he hadn’t noticed before, and he saw that it announced a Crossroads Career Network meeting about to take place.
When you’ve had your job unexpectedly eliminated in today’s challenging economy, a sign like that intrigues. Patrick, who had recently suffered just such a job loss, decided that it might be a good idea to look in on the meeting.
“I sat through the information session and pretty soon realized that the Crossroads Career Network was something I needed to take part in,” he says.
What he found in that meeting was a local host site – Eastminster Presbyterian – cooperating in a national network of churches that help people at crossroads in their careers by providing totally free counsel, contacts and encouragement. According to the network’s mission statement, this, in turn, equips and supports them to hear and follow God’s calling, as they explore careers and seek jobs. Meetings are open to all who want to participate, with or without a church affiliation.
As a result of meeting Sonny White, president of Midlands Technical College, at CCN Maximize Your Career meetings, Patrick Wright learned about, applied for and secured a position at Midlands Tech as department chair for information systems technology. The post was in an area he hadn’t considered previously, but his skills fit, and he has found it a real answer to his prayers and a satisfying way to make a living.
Crossroads Career Network’s aim is to assist job seekers in finding work that brings both personal and spiritual fulfillment — because that’s what makes a job a joy. Looking to return the blessing, Patrick now speaks at CCN meetings and helps current job seekers as he was helped.
Ken Carey, Eastminster Presbyterian’s CCN volunteer facilitator since its inception there in July 2009, has more than six years of staffing and recruiting experience. He works as a business development manager with Snelling Staffing Services of the Midlands, and he felt called to start this ministry at Eastminster when he learned that several of his Sunday school classmates were unemployed. He enjoys enlarging on just what CCN does.
“Crossroads Career Network,” says Ken, “is a national, nonprofit Christian ministry dedicated to providing online career, ministry and employer resources through faith-based materials. It offers a variety of networking and search tools for its membership to connect with places that are hiring. Its career groups offer one-on-one mentoring, scheduled networking meetings and career-explorer workshops to arm job seekers with an array of tools and information for them to determine their best life and career path.”
Crossroads Career Network derives its name from biblical wisdom recorded by the prophet Jeremiah: “This is what the LORD says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls…’” (Jeremiah 6:16).
During career meetings, group members progress through a cutting-edge workbook (given free at meetings and available free online at www.crossroadscareer.org/workbook) that gives the unemployed, the underemployed and the misemployed an orderly way to learn how to pursue and win the right job. The program takes about eight weeks to complete, but there’s no limit on how long a job seeker may attend meetings. Members support and pray for one another through the job-hunting process. Presently, Eastminster’s meetings are held on Wednesdays from 8:15 to 10 a.m., while Northeast Presbyterian Church has a new CCN group, started just this past January, that meets on Tuesdays from 7 to 8:30 p.m. The two churches network together to give a maximum edge to their job seekers.
“Each small group is going to be reflective of whoever comes into it,” Ken explains, “and it’s often a series of events, including CCN participation, that leads to a new job. Here’s one way it can work: Dr. Lisabeth Medlock, a professional career coach and psychologist, came in and facilitated one of our classes. Now, we are careful not to let professionals come in and sell to the unemployed people in our classes, but we do let our speakers tell the group how to contact them so members can seek further help if they want to. One of our job seekers, Chris Younts, heard Dr. Medlock speak and became a student in one of her classes. He would come in to CCN each Wednesday all pumped up about the help she was giving him. Chris wasn’t sure what he wanted to do, but he had some good ideas, and one of them came to fruition. As a result of a friend’s experience, he helped start a nonprofit organization called Hidden Wounds, which helps veterans who have post-traumatic stress disorder. He is now CFO of the organization. He created work for himself helping others through a chain of events, one link of which was CCN.”
Chris’s mentor, Dr. Medlock, knows whereof she speaks when she presents to a CCN group because she had to reinvent herself after being blinded in a home accident not long ago. As a result, she is always a strong motivator to CCN job seekers. “While I still have peripheral vision, my reading vision is gone, and I can no longer drive, so I’ve had to learn new ways of doing things,” she says. In her put-to the-test counsel, Dr. Medlock encourages job seekers in understanding that the journey through career change is worth the effort it takes to get where you want to go.
Launched into churches in 2000, the ministry of CCN actually originated in 1987 out of Georgia. Current headquarters are located in Charlotte. National CCN founder Brian Ray, also founder of a retained executive search consulting firm and former vice president and executive committee member of the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain, had a love for the Lord and a burden to help people that moved him to use his job-placement skills as an avenue for giving that help.
The bottom line of Crossroads Career Network isn’t expressed in terms of dollars on a financial spreadsheet, but in terms of lives changed. As Ken Carey says, “We’re here to help people at crossroads in their careers hear and follow God’s calling in their work. As a facilitator, I find it very humbling to become involved in people’s lives in this way. I tell them, ‘I don’t have all the answers, but God does, and if we seek Him, He’s going to help us.’”
For more information on how you can volunteer or participate in Crossroads Career Network, visit their website at www.crossroadscareer.org/explorers, or contact Ken Carey at firstname.lastname@example.org.