This article appears in the Stories edition of the Calvin Seminary Forum
Colin Watson has been in high demand in the business world since the 1980s. He was a rising star at AT&T and NYNEX (now Verizon), and led as a top executive at the KeySpan Corporation and NYC2012, an organization formed to bid for the 2012 Olympic Games. Then for nearly 10 years he served as the CEO of Foundation Enterprises, LLC, a real estate investment and non-profit consulting company.
Throughout these endeavors, Watson was also active in the church, leading a parallel career of ministry work as an executive minister at his home church and Board President of Christian Reformed World Missions.
Watson’s wife of more than 40 years, Freida, has also lived the formerly corporate, and now ministerial life alongside Colin. “She is my best friend and life partner who has journeyed with me in this adventure that God has laid out for us,” Watson says.
In 2015, God led the couple in a new direction as Watson moved to full-time ministry as director of ministries and administration for the Christian Reformed Church in North America and, in 2020, he was named the acting executive director for the denomination.
While Watson leaves a legacy in each of his roles, he still desires to contribute more to his neighbors, particularly fellow Christ followers. It was this stirring that led him to apply to Calvin Theological Seminary’s Doctor of Ministry, or DMin, program.
Watson had originally planned to enroll in the program upon his retirement, but he has delayed his retirement to be faithful to his current leadership position. So instead, Watson acts as executive director of the denomination while concurrently completing his studies.
“When I’m at the seminary, my name tag says student, not executive director,” Watson says with a smile. It’s clear that the role of student is one he relishes.
“I wish I had started this ten years ago but it is never too late,” Watson says. “There’s no such thing as being too young, too old, whatever—pick your descriptor—to continue to contribute to what God has asked you to do.”
Watson is journeying as a student in the seminary’s first DMin cohort, launched in May 2020. His key area of reflection is around minority leadership in institutions and organizations.
As a native of Guyana, Watson moved to the U.S. at the age of 18. Throughout his journey as a believer, he has noticed that the texts revered as the great works of theology, generation after generation, continue to be from a similar perspective.
“It is important for us to see from a variety of different cultures to say, this is what God has shown me from my perspective,” Watson reflects.
From the unity of believers in John chapter 17 to believers coming together in Revelation 7, Watson sees God’s greater plan for people of all backgrounds learning from each other. His study of the church in Antioch has furthered his interest in minority leadership, as this multicultural church was the Apostle Paul’s sending congregation.
While Watson completes his DMin degree, he encourages others to begin theirs.
“The DMin I see as a tool to answering some life questions,” he says. “What questions do you think your life is causing you to ask? What’s God laying on your heart in terms of legacy? What other contributions might you be able to make because of what God has allowed to happen in your life?”
For Watson, sharing our testimonies is a central part of Christian life in community.
“Part of loving your neighbor as yourself is sharing with your neighbor what you have learned, not as a rulebook but as a helpful way of understanding principles of life that God has revealed to you. These things might be helpful to someone else.”