The Calling/Episode 5 |45min

How Todd Wilson Discovered His Vocational Sweet Spot

Before a midlife crisis, the founder of Exponential was designing nuclear subs. Now, he's a ministerial visionary.
How Todd Wilson Discovered His Vocational Sweet Spot

In the church’s quest to help people find and respond to their calling, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more dedicated champion than author, speaker, and Exponential co-founder Todd Wilson. Over the course of seventeen years of ministry, Wilson has used his entrepreneurial know-how to create a raft of organizations, systems, and publications designed to help leaders find their “sweet spot” and provide local churches with tools for deep-rooted, multiplication-driven growth.

Before all that, though, Wilson was up to something else entirely: nuclear engineering. In fact, he worked for the Division of Naval Reactors for a full fifteen years before feeling a call to full-time ministry—a call that emerged, he says, from an early and prolonged midlife crisis:

I looked ahead and said, “I’ve got a lot of years left, and is this what I’m going to do with the rest of my life?”. . . I was about 15 years into my career, doing well, conquering hills, and looking ahead and saying, “Boy, I’ve got another 20 to 25 years left, am I just going to keep doing more of the same, more of this hill-conquering?” And the closer you get to that mid-career point, especially when you get to the point where you realize, “I have less years left than I’ve had working so far,” that’s what creates that perfect storm of a midlife crisis for people, where they’re starting to see the clock ticking down. . . And I think that, in both healthy and in unhealthy ways, produces a churn. . .

And that’s what was happening to me in my early thirties. I had really risen quickly in promotions and had gotten into this wrestling match with God. About two years into it, I felt like God just audibly spoke to me to go into ministry. I was in a highly disciplined field of nuclear engineering at the time, so it wasn’t that entrepreneurial. . . But as soon as I went into ministry, an entrepreneurial switch went off the day I went in—in my first ten years of ministry, a whole series of entrepreneurial startups. I started multiple different national nonprofits, including Exponential. And you could just see the pattern of that entrepreneurial thing happening.

In this week’s episode of The Calling, join CT managing editor Richard Clark as he chats with Wilson about his entrepreneurial calling, how to keep your vocation from overwhelming your life, and what aircraft carriers have to teach us about the church’s mission.

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The Calling is produced by Richard Clark and Cray Allred.

Theme music by Lee Rosevere, used under Creative Commons 4.0.

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How Todd Wilson Discovered His Vocational Sweet Spot