Arlana Johnson: Leaving a Fortune-500 Company for Ministry

Arlana Johnson was at the pinnacle of her corporate communications career—quite literally, with a large office overlooking a lake—when she sensed God put it on her heart to begin praying about a career change. In time, she discerned He was leading her to attend seminary. This move was completely off Arlana’s radar! Nevertheless, she began to do her due diligence and research. She wanted an institution that aligned with her Christian beliefs and values, especially when it came to the operation of the Holy Spirit. Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS) felt like a perfect match, even more so when she discovered the flexibility of their programs, which was a huge help because she was working full-time.

Arlana decided to enroll in TEDS’s Master’s in Educational Ministry program because of her previous work with children in church settings. “If I hadn’t gone into corporate USA, I would have been a teacher. I came to the Lord in my mid-twenties and have been a member of a few different churches. In each experience, I served in children’s ministry and loved that.” Although she didn’t initially know why God prompted her to go to seminary, she now understands. “It makes complete sense. It was applicable to what I was already doing in these churches—building curriculums and Christian education programs. I am passionate about the spiritual formation of children.”

At TEDS, Arlana enjoyed meeting people who were at different places in their own journeys of seeking the Lord. “They were from all walks of life and denominations and backgrounds.” This was especially evident in her systematic theology class, where she enjoyed having discussions with people who brought different perspectives to their discussions. “It is always interesting to hear how God is leading different people. I’m just amazed at how He reaches us all and brings us with Him in our different journeys.”

TEDS helped Arlana grow in her faith by deepening her love of Scripture. “It really helped me have a greater respect and reverence for the Word of God, really understanding the importance of how you go about interpreting it, exegeting scripture and taking into account the historical context and the factors that go into that, like who was writing and the audience.”

Arlana found that her growing faith was often sharpened by the academic challenge of TEDS. “I think at TEDS, it was sort of like you’re juxtaposing your intellectual ability to learn with revelation and what God wants to show you and reveal to you. You walk the line between the two. You can’t just solely rely on your intelligence…it’s really being prayerful about what you’re doing and what you’re learning, asking God what He really wants you to learn.”

After graduation from TEDS, Arlana began to work part-time, overseeing the development of the children’s curriculum at her church. Then, a friend asked Arlana about editing a book she had written on spiritual freedom. Arlana was glad to help out and loved the editing process. That friend referred her to another friend, and, in time, Arlana started an independent publishing consultancy, working with pastors and Christian leaders. She would help them make their messages accessible to more general audiences and make sure that they were being faithful to Scripture.

As her work continued, she began to see why God had led her to go to TEDS: It was fueling the work that she was doing. “I had learned about the foundations of writing and working with leaders in my previous career. That experience with my TEDS education meant that I was able to really honor the Word of God and help these Christian leaders communicate.” While Arlana has recently transitioned back into corporate America, she is continuing her book coaching on a project basis.

To the donors who make the incredible education at TEDS possible, she says, “Thank you for being obedient to the call to support institutions like Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. I had a former pastor of mine who used to say, ‘One person’s obedience is connected to a thousand destinies.’ And I really believe that. People can’t overestimate the impact that they’re having by donating to TEDS. They don’t know how they are building the Kingdom up, building up believers. Thank you, and be encouraged that what may seem like a small seed can be a huge investment!”