It’s your last year of high school. In just four years from now, Momma will want to see you spread your wings, Daddy will want you gainfully employed, and Uncle Sam will want you to repay your education loans.
But you’ve got higher aspirations. You’ve felt the call for a number of years now – a career in Christian Leadership. Where can a degree in religion or biblical studies take you? The paths are surprisingly diverse.
Some people just can’t get enough of the college scene even after four years, and many missions organizations are responding. They station outgoing college grads on campuses to recruit students for ministry opportunities abroad. You may not want to do this your whole life, but it can be an exciting beginning to a career abroad, giving you a firsthand feel for the frontline possibilities that await you. Note that this may be a self-funded position.
Business as Mission
Missions agencies are increasingly sending non-religious workers to take up residence and start businesses abroad. The idea is to fulfill the Great Commission by meeting local need for work while maintaining a Christian testimony. If you have a knack for innovating business plans and a heart for personal involvement in missions, you no longer have to postpone one of them until your second career!
Camp Director / Outdoor Ministries
From traditional day camps to outdoor adventure ministries, there are plenty of opportunities for creative individuals to integrate faith and outdoor activities. Some colleges even offer a minor in this area so that you can gain practical experience and jump-start your career before you get your degree. And hey, who wouldn’t want to get paid for playing horseshoes and going kayaking?
You can think of a chaplain as a pastor outside the church, whether it be in the military, in hospitals, prisons, etc. Do you have an ability to handle crisis situations with confidence? Can you put people of other faiths at ease with a touch of humor? Do you feel called to leave the church building to minister where people are hurting? These may be indications that chaplaincy would be a good fit. Ask your top college choices how they might prepare you for this unique and much-needed vocation.
Churches out there are looking for many different types of ministers: children and youth, family, administration, music, urban ministry, and preaching. A solid foundation in biblical studies is real plus, helping to hone the highly coveted ability of integrating scriptural principles with the everyday issues of life and the big questions our society is asking. If you are considering a career in local church ministry, notice that some schools will offer concentrations specific to your preferred ministry area.
Christian College President
Combining the profiles of scholar, visionary, administrator, and fundraiser, being the big man on campus is not just about spending afternoons playing golf. Obviously, a recent graduate will not land this kind of job, but there are ways to get there. Consider working as a professor for a time while keeping an eye on administration jobs in your institution. The position of provost, or senior academic officer, is an eventual stepping-stone. Don’t forget that as Christian colleges compete with public universities for students, producing faith-driven people of character becomes their calling card, and a college president needs to embody these ideals while wearing several different hats.
Being on the executive leadership team of an international mission agency is not your average 9 to 5. Picture a typical day. In the morning you develop a tag line to encourage a new direction in the global strategy of your agency. For lunch you meet with a long-time financial supporter from a local church. In the afternoon you give counsel to a missionary leader in crisis in Asia. And when that’s all done you catch a plane to Geneva to speak at and all-Europe weekend conference. If you’re interested in living out your faith on the international scene while working in administration and communications, start as a cross-cultural worker and let your people and organizational skills shine through.
The opportunities are wide open in the growing home education movement: developing mail-order or online curriculum, organizing conferences, leading local home-school co-ops, or even teaching as a private tutor to an overwhelmed mom. But if it really does take one to know one, then plan to have some kids yourself and teach them at home along the way!
Director of Humanitarian Emergency Relief
What can a Christian do about third-world famines, natural disasters, and displaced people groups? You can make a tangible difference in the lives of thousands as a relief unit coordinator. Talk to specific relief agencies about what degree track is best and how to get the most relevant experience now to prepare for this challenging career.
Christian School Principal
If influencing young people is at the top of your list and you are passionate about distinctly Christian education, leading a Christian school could be a great venue. In addition to thick skin to field all those parents’ complaints, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree plus certification (check to see if a bachelor’s degree in education is necessary in your area). While you get some teaching experience, volunteer for extra activities that will enable you to develop your leadership skills. Look to complete your master’s degree and then get certified as a elementary, middle, or high school administrator.