Many who know me are already aware of this most recent development in my life, but I wanted to take some time to elaborate on another professional transition in my life that is especially exciting. As of this past month, Whitney, Liam and Roy and I have moved back to Austin, which is where Whitney and I met and have spent much of our lives. It is home to many of our extended family members and to many more lifelong friends. This by itself makes the change particularly meaningful. Baylor University and Truett Seminary will always be in my life, and we are already missing Waco — which, by the way, was a cool and desirable place to live long before Chip and Joanna said so! I intend to continue teaching at Baylor part-time as a lecturer in theology and ethics, both at Truett on occasion and in the business school, just as I have done for the past two years.
Apart from our history and long-term relationships in Austin, I also feel uniquely suited for my new professional role at Christ Church as their Director of Vocation. We have defined vocation as the way someone is specifically called, shaped and gifted to love God and others in a particular season of life and work. In this job, I will be overseeing an area of the church’s ministry where whole-life discipleship and mission intersect, which we’re calling vocational formation. I find this focus intriguing and fitting for several reasons…
My doctoral research and writing was in philosophy of religion, but more specifically theology, ethics and society, or what in some circles gets called political theology. This just means that I’m interested in exploring the relationship between the Church and the world and how Christians understand God’s mission in the public sphere — socially, culturally and politically — and our responsibility and participation in that mission.
The first class I taught at Baylor was in the Interdisciplinary Core program and was entitled “Examined Life.” As suggested by the title, the main purpose of the class was for first-year students at Baylor to begin to discover what the “good life” looks like — intellectually, emotionally, socially, physically and spiritually. This was a team-taught course in the Honors College with several other faculty members, and I was one of the instructors in the social dimension. Discerning one’s calling and vocation was a big theme throughout the course, as well as learning about important social issues and wellness practices for flourishing in college and appreciating the significance of a liberal arts education.
This past year, I’ve been teaching another course at Baylor as well called Christian Ethics Applied to Business, in which I’ve been drawing significantly on some of the work done by Seattle Pacific University’s Center for Integrity in Business. In addition, I became a certified spiritual director last month and just stepped down from my position as the Assistant Director of Spiritual Formation at Truett Seminary. This was a two-year training program and learning environment for me to grow in and practice the art of listening to and accompanying others as they seek God’s will for their lives and work in the church as well as the world.
Finally, while I’ve been a pastoral minister in a congregational setting before, most extensively at Saint Peter’s in Charleston, I have not been actively functioning in this capacity since 2017. And yet, I haven’t been able to let go of a sense of calling to local church leadership. Dayspring Baptist Church has been our community and place of worship for these past two years. I think it’s a model Christian congregation for how to integrate contemplative, liturgical and sacramental life together in a way that still flows outward and engages the community. For some reason, though, I’ve continued to be drawn to the Anglican world and the mission of the Diocese of Churches for the Sake of Others in which I am ordained, and of which Christ Church of Austin is a part.
In sum, I saw where this new opportunity had the potential to bring together three major streams that I have been swimming in for several years now: Christian theological and social ethics, spiritual formation/direction and ministry in the local church. As Director of Vocation, I will occasionally teach, preach and serve as a priest, but my primary responsibility is to educate, equip and mobilize Christ Church members for aligning their daily life and work with God’s purposes — whether in the marketplace, at home, in healthcare, entertainment, science, education, the neighborhood, the arts, or government and politics. This is a big job that requires a whole community to accomplish it. Thankfully, the church is already well on their way, and I just get to join them. If your’e in the Austin area or ever visiting and want to learn more, let me know!