Thursday, March 15, 2018

Milestones: Sowing and Reaping

A life-long pastor friend of mine once told me, “John, it’s good that you have a secular career to support your theology work. There’s no money in theology”.

To be sure, when the secular work becomes interrupted, the theology gets interrupted as well.

On Tuesday (March 13), quite by chance, I achieved two major milestones in my life. Of course, I don’t believe in “chance”, but two things came together nicely.

Early in the morning, I passed a certification test that will enable me to be employable for at least several years to come – this is good because I’m 58 now, and my career focus in the technology world has shifted from “I want to be a rising star” to “hold on and be useful for a little while longer”.

And later in the day, I also received a copy of my first article to be published in a theological journal. (I’m hoping that this part of my work-life expands, even as the first part recedes).

Moving from Certifiable to Certified

The first event for me was the taking and the passing of the “Marketo Certified Expert” (MCE) exam. I’m in the field of “Marketing Automation” – which is just what it looks like, automating various marketing processes. It’s a highly specialized field. There are two main players, which appeal to the largest companies, and then there are a number of smaller players that offer similar (but less beefy) capabilities.

There is a graphic “out there” showing the growth of the “marketing technology” (or “martech”) field from 2011 through last year.

In 2011, there were about 150 different kinds of marketing technology software “solutions” available – made available by “cloud computing” technologies. There were more than 5,000 last year.

With that kind of growth, it’s impossible for any human being to keep up. That’s why I’ve felt it was important to be a player with one of the larger, more established solutions. Smaller players will necessarily be rolled into or absorbed by the larger ones.

On LinkedIn several weeks ago, I wrote this short item, describing my efforts:

I’ve been studying to take the Marketo certification exam (MCE). This is a position I’ve wanted to get to for years.

In 2012, I had been working with Eloqua, but with no training. My boss said, “Go to the Eloqua conference, come back and get everyone excited about Eloqua.”

My wife had just had a bone marrow transplant for leukemia, and didn’t want me to go out of town for four days.

I said to him, “Why don’t you send me to Eloqua University, and give me some real training? Same cost, and I can do it online.”

He demurred, and then shortly after (not his fault), I was laid off.

My first call was to our Eloqua partner/vendor. They had partner access to Eloqua University. But the boss had hired me as a salesperson.

He said, “you don’t need to know the product, you need to know how to sell”. So that opportunity went away.

After that I moved into the Marketo world, working for another small partner company. They wished me well taking the test, but offered no training support.

Now, in a fourth try, Christopher Antonopoulos of Measured Results Marketing, Inc., is enabling me to study through Marketo University.

There was far more material than I expected, but I think I’m ready to take the exam now.

Wish me luck!

That post garnered more than 14,321 views on LinkedIn, and dozens of likes and comments, including some comments by senior people at Marketo.

In my studies, because I’ve used both systems, I was able to identify a key difference between the two systems, and I wrote about it, here. (Needless to say, a lot of Marketo sales reps are re-posting this in various places).

Yesterday, I took the test – not ironically on the 5th year anniversary of when I was laid off from the position where I was using Eloqua. I posted this small post:

I passed the Marketo Certification Exam this morning and I'm now a Marketo Certified Expert. Special thanks to Christopher Antonopoulos at Measured Results Marketing for making it possible. Thanks too for all of the prayers, encouragement, and kind wishes many of you expressed here on LinkedIn.

This post as well garnered more than 19,000 views now (and still rising), including comments from some of those same senior Marketo executives.

Getting a certification in one of these major two systems has been a thing I’ve wanted to do for more than five years now; I view this as my version of “tent making”, and I’m very grateful to those who made it possible.

(The name Christopher Antonopoulos has appeared here twice now. Christopher and I met back in my Eloqua days. He has a small agency that has worked with Eloqua and other small systems, and he is attempting to move back into a role working with Marketo).

I’m sharing this, because I’ve chatted with Triablogue readers outside of this forum, and even friends at church, who are having some difficulties finding jobs. The process of changing jobs, in the face of changing technologies, is a difficult one. It’s easy to find that your skills, though they may have been mainstream just recently, now are less in demand. Specificity is a key.

But the method is changing as well.

Evaluating an Official Roman Catholic and Evangelical Discussion

Separately, I received an email with a link to the April issue of the Evangelical Review of Theology, a publication of the World Evangelical Association (WEA, The WEA has held a couple of negotiations with Rome, (John Stott and J.I. Packer were among the evangelicals in the first set of discussions, held from 1977-1984).

As a result of my participation in the Roman but Not Catholic project, and also, because I knew the editor, I was asked to comment on the document that came out of the most recent round of discussions (2009–2016).

That document seems to have taken a novel approach to Roman Catholic and Evangelical discussions, and they developed a format that claims to “foster discussion”, in the following format:

1. Discussion of Common Ground

2. Words of Encouragement
(Catholics to Evangelicals)
(Evangelicals to Catholics)
3. Fraternal Questions of Concern
(Catholics to Evangelicals)
(Evangelicals to Catholics)

Now that this journal has been released, I’m hoping to have more to say about this document and also the format of the discussions.

Sowing and Reaping

So in the same day, I’ve not only attained a certification that I’ve wanted for years, but I’ve also seen the publication of a document that, well, is a nice one-time thing, but it too took years in the making, and will give me the ability to do more of the same in the future.

Someone commented to me, “you’ve had quite a good day”.

The sermon in my church on Sunday was based on Galatians 6:7–8: “For whatever a person sows he will also reap, because the one who sows to his flesh will reap destruction from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit.”

In many ways, our work careers and our theology careers both are the result of the kinds of sowing that we do earlier on. A Christian is “in the world but not of it”. We need to keep an eye on “the world” and understand how things are working in it. We need to deal with the realities of things, not the kinds of things that used to happen, or that we wish were happening.

I know this blog post is a bit different from what you frequently find here. Navigating the world today not an easy task. It is hard to imagine the pressures that young people face to conform.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me. My email address is listed in my Blogger profile.


  1. John wrote:

    "And later in the day, I also received a copy of my first article to be published in a theological journal. (I’m hoping that this part of my work-life expands, even as the first part recedes)."

    I wish more people had that perspective. It's desperately needed.

    I'm glad that things are going so well for you, in both contexts.

  2. Hi John,

    Congratulations! This reminds me - in reference to an earlier post, that I meant to mention / as a Reformed institution in Uganda.


    1. Hi David, thanks for these links -- it seems to me that you are recommending these as resources?. Are you familiar with them?

    2. Hi John. Yes; we have some friends who are missionaries there, whom we knew locally for a few years before they went out (and have kept in touch since).

    3. Thanks David -- I'll be happy to pass along this information.