Kingdom Mindset: Helping Students Find Their Higher Purpose

By Gabrielle Marcy '17
9/27/2018 10:37:00 PM

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In November 2015, Raynisha Robinson ’06 was a recruiter for America’s largest elevator manufacturer, ThyssenKrupp, when she received a call from an administrator at JBU asking if she would con-sider applying for the position of director of JBU’s Career Development Center.

The call startled Robinson. She had just moved to Dallas after working at Walmart for seven years and was launching a human resources consulting business.

As Robinson heard the job description — helping students understand how their relationship with God molds their professional lives, providing career consulting and facilitating events — she realized that if she were to create a job for herself, it would look something like that.

Still, the decision to come to JBU was difficult. Robinson knew it meant giving up her progress in launching her own business. Yet, as friends prayed with her, Robinson felt peace.

“I wanted to be obedient to what I believed God was calling me to,” Robinson said, viewing the job as an opportunity to help students and alumni respond to their kingdom assignments.

During her first year on staff, Robinson initiated JBU’s largest career and graduate school fairs, inviting over 30 employers and 20 graduate schools from Arkansas, Oklahoma, Colorado and Texas to recruit students. She also began coaching workshops, training student career development specialists and developing an employer partnership program.

Robinson’s colleagues quickly took note of her drive and palpable impact on JBU’s campus.

“An overflowing passion for God and students best describes Raynisha,” Dr. Steve Beers, vice president for student development, said. “Her previous experience in the corporate world, paired with the fact that she is a JBU alum, enables her to build bridges for students to cross into their careers.”

Michelle Reed, administrative assistant for the Career Development Center, daily witnesses one of Robinson’s key strengths – the ability to see and bring out the potential in each individual.

“To work alongside Raynisha is to live kingdom life together,” Reed said. “Her passion is contagious as she guides students in reflecting on not just their time at JBU but also who God has created them to be. I and many others have flourished under her leadership and guidance.”

Within three years, Robinson’s staff has expanded to include student leaders from Costa Rica, Vietnam, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, the United States and El Salvador.

Looking back at team photos from each year gives Robinson a glimpse of the kingdom of heaven.

“I always say, where the kingdom of God is there is unity, but there’s also diversity,” she said.

Robinson recognizes the window of time she has to pour into each of her student leaders is brief, so she strives to equip them professionally and spiritually.

“My moments of greatest joy at work come from my team,” Robinson said. “Whoever God brings on this team is who God meant to be on this team. I want to be very intentional about stewarding these individuals.”

Bethany Smith ’16 was one of the first students to serve under Robinson’s leadership. However, it wasn’t until she graduated and moved to Ireland that Smith recognized Robinson’s influence in her life.

“Raynisha has been a constant person from the beginning,” Smith said. “She consistently points me to the Lord and his call to bring the kingdom of God into every area of our world and lives.”

Whether Robinson is sharing a devotional with Mayfield Hall residents, speaking on a panel with JBU’s Multicultural Organization of Students Active in Christ (MOSAIC) or discipling students, her involvement in the JBU community extends beyond her work hours.

Rebekah Brown, the Career Development Center project manager, has witnessed Robinson’s committed investment firsthand.

“Raynisha has a prodigious work ethic,” Brown said. “She puts her all into JBU Career Development. She dedicates not only her work hours to this task but also many extra hours talking with students, faculty and staff about kingdom calling.”

As Robinson looks toward her future at JBU, she is excited about transitioning coaching programs and workshops to virtual platforms. She hopes this will better meet the needs of graduate students and alumni. Robinson is also mapping out ways to strengthen the Career Development website with self-service resources.

By keeping a pulse on career development trends in higher education, Robin-son ensures students and alumni receive critical resources.

Earlier this year, Robinson’s team implemented an online job board called Handshake, allowing over 200,000 employers to connect with JBU.

“Raynisha’s thorough research allowed the university to contract a low cost as a pilot school for schools our size,” Brown said. “This job board is already helping students and alumni find amazing opportunities all over the world.”

Although Robinson has strategic plans for strengthening Career Development’s professional services, her ultimate purpose at JBU is single-minded – to point students to God and his word and away from everything and everybody else.

She hopes to address trends of anxiousness she senses during counseling sessions with students and alumni.

“We don’t realize how much fear is at the core of our pursuits,” Robinson said.

“We seek after comfort rather than God. Yet, God’s trying to bring us to total dependence on him. True calling requires dependence on God.”

Robinson reminds students that they will always be called to trans-form the world for God, no matter what career they pursue.

“Your vocation isn’t for your glory,” Robinson said. “It’s not for JBU’s glory. It’s not even for the people JBU is sending you to bless. God’s glory is the mission.”

Each time Robinson reflects back on her career journey and the ways God made his presence clear to her, she longs for the JBU community to experience a similar intimacy with him.

“Calling is sweet. It’s the voice of God. In order to respond to your calling, God has to be real to you, even in the hard seasons,” she said. “When you are in an intimate relationship with God and know that he loves you, you can trust that he knows what he’s doing in your life.”

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