Rod Kerr: Charting Your Career Course

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 11, 2016

Imagine a musician who could no longer make music. By losing the ability to do what they were created to do, they lose a piece of themselves. They lose a sense of purpose and dignity. We were created to work to reinvest ourselves for the betterment of others.

But what if you didn’t have access to meaningful work? For many in our community, this is a day-by-day reality. Many, for as many different reasons, are unemployed, underemployed or misemployed.

Millions are shut out of opportunities which creates a cycle of poverty, homelessness, food and medical insecurity that affects us all financially, emotionally, socially, and yes, spiritually. Churches have always been in a struggle to break this cycle, but the majority of their resources are spent of food, housing and clothing – and at the bottom of that list is jobs. Without employment and the means to find work, the cycle continues, not giving many the opportunity to provide for themselves and their families.

Salisbury Jobs for Life is about flipping the list – partnering with businesses, non-profit helping agencies, and now other churches. They are working with the community to empower those in need to find and keep employment and provide for themselves. They believe this could change the game forever. They are one of sites from 347 cities in 40 states and 7 countries. The Salisbury ministry was featured in the international program’s Annual Report.

In a unique hands on experience interested prospective students and area church leaders will have a chance to ‘sample’ the Jobs for Life program where they will actually be able to attend some brief workshops, get oriented to the process and get a feel for the innovative curriculum. Out of over 350 sites worldwide, this is the only workshop of its kind to give the community a chance to see from the inside what makes this ministry different from inside.

“Charting Your Career Course” on Saturday, June 25, will be a four hour orientation of the Jobs for Life approach as well as a sample of the types of classes, all built around a travel theme. Participants choose three workshops from a list that includes: “Rules of the Road” (Interviewing Skills), “Destinations, Detours and Dead Ends” (Vocational Planning), “The Road BEST Travelled” (Customer Service), “Journey with Joseph” (The Ideal Employee), “Bridges and Barriers” (Communication and Conflict Resolution), “Travelogues and Trip Ticket” (Resume Writing), and “Knowing Your Vehicle” (Personality, Values, Skills and Interests) A luch will follow for church leaders who are interested in being Covenant Partners.

While Salisbury and Rowan County are blessed with many fine agencies to help people find work, Jobs for Life adds some important components. When they began three years ago, employers were desperately looking for people who had the training for the jobs, but, more importantly – the soft skills – commitment, communication skills and character. While a faith background is not required of students, it does provide the background and context of character education. Biblical characters are used in the curriculum to show examples of many who have overcome great adversity. Mentors are assigned to each student to help them complete classwork and homework, but more importantly, to provide an example of someone who connects faith and life.

During the eight-week, 16-session series, students learn not only about writing resumes and interviewing skills taught by people who have been in various industries, but also personality, values identification, and skills discovery. All of the above is supervised by certified trainers comparable to what is available in the best career counseling offices at a college campus.

In additional to potential students, on June 25, church ministers and lay leaders have been invited to learn more about the program and partner with Salisbury Jobs for Life to help their own members through job transitions. Up to 20 churches will be identified as Covenant Partners whose benefits will include pre-registration, regular network workshops, and access to the private Salisbury Jobs for Life Facebook group that lists hundreds of jobs, career articles and other helpful materials. After attending the workshops that day, church leaders are invited to a “lunch and learn” orientation to the Covenant Partnership Plan. Right now only 1% of churches in America have job or career ministries.

Salisbury Jobs for Life is looking for congregations from all faiths and denominations who are interested in helping their members as they go through any kind of job transition – be they entry level or professional jobs. The partnership is open to those churches who are committed to restoring people’s dignity and purpose, empowering persons to dream, equipping others to provide for themselves and their families, and integrating a faith background in life and work.

Salisbury Jobs for Life reaches out to ex-offenders, homeless, victims of abuse and human trafficking. They have already co-sponsored several job fairs, workshops and community events, as well as several Fall and Spring series. They regularly partner with NCWorks, Career Connections, RCCC, the City of Salisbury, Rowan Helping Ministries and many other local agencies. They are also connected to the Crossroads Career Network another national career ministry.

“Charting Your Career Course” is scheduled June 25 from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the First Ministry Center of First Baptist Church, 220 N. Fulton Street in Salisbury. A continental breakfast will be served and a lunch will be provided for church leaders from 12:15-1:00 p.m. To make reservations, contact Rod Kerr or Lisa Kluttz at 704-633-0431 or email


Rod Kerr is a minister at First Baptist-Salisbury and a pastoral psychotherapist.

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