Perhaps the most widely known episode of a calling is the burning bush experience of Moses, leader of Israel's sojourn to freedom from Egyptian captivity. At present, the phenomenon of being called to a place, vocation, or career has limited social science research. Indeed, prior to the middle of the 21st century this concept was lacking both theoretically and empirically. Any coverage of the subject of a calling was primarily found in religious periodicals and similar publications (Newman, 2006). In 2007, Scott attempted to advance the discourse on career development by examining callings and the corollary meanings which college students ascribed to vocational choices and fields of study. Topics closely akin to this phenomenon are servant leadership (Geenleaf, 1998; Spears, n.d.) and spirituality in the workplace (Driscoll & Wiebe, 2007). However these modes are not synonymous with what it means to have a calling. The operational definition which best describes calling is that which "...an individual (1) feels drawn to pursue, (2) expects to be intrinsically enjoyable and meaningful, and (3) sees as a central part of his or her identity" (Berg, Grant, & Johnson, 2010, p. 973). This study endeavors to draw more attention to the topic by analyzing the manifestations of calling on people's lives. A qualitative phenomenological inquiry was employed for my research. Dialogic interviews were conducted with 6 contemporary leaders and the experiences were recorded, reviewed multiple times and subsequently coded for thematic renderings. The findings led to discovery of the process of callings. Calling is experienced in 3 distinct phases: (a) the awareness, (b) the preparation, and (c) the launch. Each of the subjects expressed peace and satisfaction after entering the launch process. There is corroborating research (Tatsuse & Sekine, 2010) which links job satisfaction to the same intrinsic qualities that are present in those individuals who are operating in their calling. The motivation to the work of the calling supersedes external factors. Results of this study hold potential for career planning and placement, in addition to the development of methods for early identification of callings among those who have not yet entered the workforce.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership; Vocational guidance -- Psychological aspects; Career development; Job satisfaction; Self-actualization (Psychology)

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

DellaNeve, James;