Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


School of Education

First Advisor

Dr. Gary Tiffin

Second Advisor

Dr. Ken Badley

Third Advisor

Dr. Laura Simmons


The purpose of this research is to identify similarities between the Christian concept of calling and educational psychology's theories on motivation. This study includes a review of historical and contemporary literature concerning calling alongside a review of literature pertaining to Self-Determination Theory. I use these reviews first to understand how Christians have historically understood and applied the concept of calling as motivation. Secondly, they are used to determine if Self Determination Theory relates to the Christian concept of calling. And, thirdly, they are used to discover areas in which Self-Determination Theory offers insight into the Christian concept of calling's potential capacity to generate motivation. The results of this research suggest that similarities between the two exist and that integration of the concepts can be achieved in an understanding of the biblical view of humanity's creation and intended purpose. Additionally, this research implies a need to build bridges between theology and educational psychology, as well as other scientific disciplines. Further study is recommended in applying the concept of an essential call within Christian education, particularly to classroom and teaching dynamics that engender perpetual motivation. Additionally, within the rich conversation concerning Christian calling there is need to push the conversation back to a foundational understanding of human nature, and to the purpose of God's call to humanity. There is also potential for the understanding of an essential call to enhance Self-Determination Theory, especially concerning the movement along the continuum from integrated motivation to intrinsic motivation. At a church level, the concept of an essential call could enhance personal well-being and subsequent church health, as well as equip missionaries to attend to relatedness, autonomy, and competence amidst difficult situations at home and abroad.