Dave Olson (‘06) had big dreams for life after graduating Trinity Western University. With his BA in Business, he saw himself making over $100,000 a year by the age of 25, and maybe even being the CEO of his own company. But after a few years working in the world of business, he found it difficult to stay interested.
“I was in business for about five years, but my heart just wasn’t in it. I care more about people than selling products,” says Olson. “I think my heart’s always been in ministry, I just didn’t know it.”
Finding His Place
As a young man, Olson loved sports and played as much as he could. But as he grew older, he struggled to see how his intuition on the field could help him in the business world. He says that one of his biggest struggles has always been recognizing his abilities and gifts, and figuring out how to use them for the glory of God. This is where mentorship really made the difference.
While a student at Trinity Western, Olson heard about the School of Business Mentorship program. He recognized that this was a valuable opportunity.
“I have a hunger for learning and am open to grow,” says Olson. “I’ve always sought out mentors. I think it’s important—especially for Christians—to seek out people who have gone before us, who can help prepare the way.”
Olson was paired with Ryan Hartzell (’94). They formed a good relationship that lasted for several years. Olson credits Hartzell, as well as Rod Ross (’81) and School of Business Dean Kevin Sawatsky, as significant influences in mentoring him and displaying Godly Christian character.
Through mentorship, Olson was able to see that he had great people skills and was a natural when it came to making meaningful connections.
“The common theme through all my business sales jobs was people,” says Olson, who found he preferred making relationships to making sales.
The Transition to Ministry
It was a real struggle for Olson to find his place after leaving Business. He tried a variety of things, like working at a hotel, doing some non-profit work, going on missions trips, and even travelling to Australia. But it wasn’t until 2012 that he really felt ready to embrace the call to missions.
One day, while at a gala in Vancouver, Olson ran into an old friend who started talking to him about opportunities for missions within Athletes in Action. Olson fell in love with the idea and was overjoyed when he received the invitation to work as the Sports Specific Director.
Olson worked in this role until the start of 2018, when he was promoted to Managing Director.
As someone who loves sports, ministry, and working with people, this job with Athletes in Actions has been a great fit. In his role, Olson gets to do what he’s most passionate about—caring for individuals.
“A lot my giftings and passions are to help other people succeed. This is one reason I function so well in my role,” says Olson. “I’m not as concerned about what I can accomplish, but I find joy and purpose in helping other people achieve their goals. That’s my heart. I get to do that every day for work.”
One way he sees himself is as one who plants seeds. After planting the seed, he trusts God to grow and harvest them when the time is right.
Today, Olson shares that he still actively seeks guidance from mentors. “I have a mentor coach, another mentor, my boss is a mentor in many ways, too,” says Olson. “I’m surrounded by a lot of Godly older men who I can go to and ask questions.”
Thanks to those who have poured into his life, Olson says he has been able to recognize his skills and gifts that God has given him, as well as grow in confidence. Although it isn’t always easy being in a leadership position, Olson knows that he is able to do all things through God, who gives him strength.
“I’m becoming confident in my gifts, not because of who I am, but because of who God is,” Olson says. It is this affirmation of God’s strength in his life that keeps him rooted in truth and away from relying on himself as he works to selflessly serve others day after day.
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