Brian’s Story: Starting Crossroads Career

brian-ray-photo-nov-2016

As Crossroads Career ministry moves forward, let’s look back at God’s faithfulness in writing His Story in our history.  The ministry was first birthed in the hearts of three people – Betsy McCall, Whit Blakeley, and Brian Ray.

From Crossroads Career Services Founding Board Member – Brian Ray

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Starting at Chick-fil-A

It was 32 years ago that I joined the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain. The executive committee had recently adopted the corporate purpose…

Glorify God by being a faithful steward

of all that is entrusted to us and have a positive influence

on all who come into contact with Chick-fil-A

My responsibilities included human resources and operator ventures.  With over 10,000 people inquiring about staff or operator opportunities per year, and only 100 positions available, we had to say “no” 9,900 times while hopefully having a positive influence on everyone.

While I pondered the problem, God planted the seed of an idea in my mind.  Perhaps we could collaborate with other employers. Instead of just saying “no” potential candidates, we could refer them to other career opportunities.  I did not know it at the time, but God was calling me to the work of Crossroads Career, before there was a Crossroads Career.

Fellowship of Companies for Christ

I shared the idea with the board of directors of the Fellowship of Companies for Christ. All thought it a great idea, but not the right time. However, the seed was planted in one of the board members, George Brown.

After I left Chick-fil-A to start my own business in 1987, George called saying, “I just met a couple of people who want to do something like what you said.  May I introduce you to Betsy McCall and Whit Blakeley?”

I remember one of our first meetings around my kitchen table at home. God had not just called me, but also two others. Betsy owned her own staffing business.  Whit ran his own outplacement firm.  Both were coming together to start a new ministry, Crossroads Career Services, to help people find jobs with Christian ministries and companies.

It got a great start with clients, employers, offices, a small staff and board of directors. As a board member, I was very excited about the opportunity, but like many new organizations, we tried to do too much too fast with too little. Things did not go as well as we hoped. We hit the pause button and then stopped.  It looked like the idea was dead.

Alive again at Primus Consulting

Meanwhile my new business, Primus Consulting executive search, was continuing to grow.  Betsy joined the firm.

People started asking to help them find a job or transition in their careers.  Once again, the Chick-fil-A purpose to glorify God and have a positive influence played in my head.  We started ministering one-on-one, and then small groups, to give them counsel, contacts and encouragement.

I asked and got permission from Betsy and Whit to use the Crossroads Career name to identify that the help we were offering was about ministry, not business.  Every Monday before work, we had people around the table helping and praying for one another.

The ministry grew, and we ran out of room in our Primus offices.  The idea of meeting in my church came to mind, so I asked one of the pastors.

Crossroads Career Goes to Church

In 1997 the first Crossroads Career ministry meeting in a church began on a Thursday night. Four volunteers (Jo-Ellen Langmack, Emma and John Morris, and myself) hosted three guests.  It was an awesome meeting.  Every month, more people came.  A friend of Jo-Ellen volunteered – Tom Darrow – who proposed and organized a career conference. Tammy Joyner from the Atlanta Journal Constitution, attended and reported…

  • “Many white-collar workers, including Anne Marie Sikorski, a 15- year veteran of the advertising marketing field, are rethinking their jobs, careers and lives.
  • “‘We feel unappreciated at the job,’ Sikorski said. ‘It’s not just my current job. It’s every job I’ve ever had.’ Sikorski recently attended a Saturday morning career conference at Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Atlanta.
  • “The Crossroads Career conference drew more than 400 people, mostly middle class and white collar, underscoring the prevailing angst.”

The best part of the conference was, however, not reported in the press.  After the conference, volunteer Laimon Godel walked down the aisle of the empty sanctuary with a tall, well-dressed, silver-haired executive, who was crying.  He had just accepted Christ, and joyful tears were running down his face.

Other churches became interested.  Volunteer leader Bill Ginn with the support of Pastor Monte Stallins at Wieuca Road Baptist asked for help to start a ministry.  So did volunteer leader Rob Snyder supported by Pastor Jerry Schriver from Perimeter Church.  When a fourth church inquired, we thought God might be calling us to develop and launch a network of churches.  But that’s another story for another time.

The point of this story is that God did not call me alone to start Crossroads Career.  He invited a whole community of different people at different times for different roles.

He is still calling.  It’s God’s story in and through us all.

Perhaps you have been a volunteer in the ministry at your church or a person seeking guidance? We’d love to read your part in God’s work in and through Crossroads Career ministry. Please leave a reply below…

 

Comments

  1. I am a semi-retired restaurant owner /operator as well as a seasoned full service restaurant manager and operator for some of Americas well known casual/family themed restaurants.
    The years of working in the fast paced, stressful, highly demanding hours ,relocating, etc. placed me in an enviroment where Jesus was almost non-existent . Fast forward to 2007 and my life was turned upside down with liver cancer. The details of what my wife and family went through are much too long for
    this commentary. Jesus rescued me from myself and continues to do so on a daily bases.
    I am interested in a career that would allow me to serve God and others.

    1. Having been in the restaurant business myself (Chick-fil-A), I so appreciate the rewards to serve others in so tangible way. Blessings for offering hope and help to others!

  2. Dear Friends at CCN,

    Retired from the ministry, (over half in Salvation Army Service) including 20 years as Chaplain in The Salvation Army ARC’s, (counseled over 8,000 men in private session) a most privileged & fulfilling time in our 50+ years of ministry!

    And so, after much thought and prayer, now seeking an opportunity to serve again; this time in Hospice Service as an on-call Chaplain; available 24/7 to the terminally ill & their loved ones who need me.

    I’m in good health and available to serve as Chaplain, up to 30 hours a week.

    Being on fixed SS income, (wife & I) our needs are few, so what matters most, is serving the palliative needs of those who need me!

    Been involved in ministry all of my life, the desire to serve others still burns brightly!

    Look forward to hearing from you.

    Blessings… Chaplain John Miller / Flat Rock MI

    1. Thank you for sharing. I sent you a direct personal email, but in addition I want to reply to your post, especially appreciating your “desire to serve other still burns brightly.” Keep on keeping on as the day draws near. Blessings, Brian

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