After being hired right out of college by AT&T into their “fast track” program, I spent fifteen years working in the business world. I’m not going to tell you that I had my ladder against the wrong wall, as I have heard it said by some when they leave a marketplace job. And I won’t tell you that my job didn’t matter, because it did. The company moved me six times over a period of eight years in a series of promotions and I turned around a number of troubled organizations.
My leadership and business acumen influenced my industry, my employees, customers and shareholders. My work contributed to human flourishing. What I didn’t understand was that I also had a greater purpose in my work. Not realizing that there is an eternal perspective to business performance, success seemed unfulfilling. I did not understand that my character and competency to achieve results fit into my stewardship and a part of my testimony of my Christian walk.
When I was fifteen years old I sensed the Lord leading me into pastoral ministry. I didn’t have any idea what that meant, but I thought I would tell my pastor. When he didn’t laugh at me but rather had the church pray over me, I embraced that as legitimate. That pastoral call would go dormant for more than a few decades as my love for business increased.
As a senior in High School I took the two classes I needed to graduate with honors while working full time as a buyer in cosmetics at JC Penney. Not knowing what to do with the next four years of my life after high school, I accepted a full four-year academic scholarship to Arizona State University.
It was in college where I learned that I was meant for business – strategizing, planning and leadership. I loved being in the business world and I was good at it. This seemed so contrary to that experience as a fifteen year old believing I was called into pastoral ministry. Still, I could not escape the question in the back of my mind, “what was that all about?” Then it happened. Fifteen years after entering the workforce after college, I was laid off from my executive job. I felt lost and began to wonder what I really cared about. Finding myself on an unexpected journey for more than a decade, I found out what business and pastoral ministry have to do with each other, what I really cared about and who God created me to be.
That dormant pastoral call brought me to Saddleback Church to become a licensed minister and to work for ten years to develop a marketplace ministry, Saddleback@Work. Long before the books and blogs we see today, I had to figure it out on my own, where God was leading, the strategies and the framework. How do we realize transformation and not just communicate information? How do we effectively disciple people in their worklife?
My head knowledge of God would be challenged by a series of trials and difficulties and most significantly, through personal loss and tragedy. My faith and understanding of who God is was challenged to the very core of my being. It was in this brokenness where I began to understand God’s ways and not just God’s acts. This season opened the way to a greater depth of compassion and understanding of humanity. Understanding mankind’s complexity led to new strategies, leadership development and a deeper abiding faith. As a single mom raising two young daughters, my perspective on life, ministry and family would be radically shaped.
Through this journey I understood that I am a bridge between the church and the marketplace. HelenMitchell.Org is where I employ my executive, pastoral and teaching experience to transform organizations, advise high potential business leaders, equip pastors and church leaders in their Faith@Work ministry and disciple women in the marketplace.
I live at the intersection of faith and reality. I don’t want to just see information communicated but organizational and personal transformation occur. I want to spend the rest of my life investing in others in order to change the world through believers in the workplace.