Here's what one contributor learned about incorporating her faith into her work at the 2017 Wilberforce Conference at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Above: The Chapel of the Cross in Chapel Hill. Photo from the News & Observer.
As graduation approaches, I’ve been thinking about ways to incorporate my faith, as a Christian, with my work, as an aspiring journalist.
One of the first things you know even before you start taking journalism classes is that journalists must be objective. Journalists are supposed to remain neutral and refrain from using their own biases and prejudices to write a story.
On the other hand, as a Christian, it’s important that I carry my faith in God wherever I go. I honestly wouldn’t know how to properly function without using my faith in everyday life.
For some time, it felt like my faith and my work as a journalist would always be two forces that clashed with one another. But after attending the 2017 Wilberforce Conference on Friday. I got some advice about these concerns.
The conference gave attendees guidance on integrating their faith and work to live out a meaningful life for God. UNC alumni and invited guests shared their experiences on ways they attempted to successfully do so through encountering trials and victories.
Here are three things that most impacted me:
1. As an adult, one of the most important questions to ask yourself is what do you believe in?
We all have to make the decision someday. What are we going to choose to believe in?
It’s important to ask yourself that question because ultimately your beliefs dictates your decisions.
As a Christian, I chose to believe in God. I chose to believe that God sent Jesus to die on the cross for my sins so that I can be in relationship with Him forever.
I started to think about how this relates back to work. If God did all of this for me, then how am I supposed to respond to this with my work?
I believe I should respond by sharing with people Jesus’ love. It’s easier said than done, but it requires humility.
For me, this means talking to people that I would normally overlook in class. I have to sometimes step out of my comfort zone and be open to hearing people’s perspectives. It’s okay for people to know that I’m a Christian, but I would want my actions to demonstrate that more than my words.
In any environment, I believe I can implement change just by treating people with love and respect.
I don’t do this just to be a nice person. Instead, I believe in God’s love for me. Why wouldn’t I want to share that love to others?
2. “Who are you, and why do you do what you do?”
Henry Kaestner, managing principal at Sovereign’s Capital, asks this question when trying to find out what drives his employees.
“The rest of the world will tell us that our worth is in our GPA,” Kaestner said.
But that’s not how I think. For me, I’m driven by my faith. As a Christian, I believe that God defines my identity. I am not defined by my degree or my job. If I don’t get a journalism internship I want, that’s OK — I know that doesn’t mean I’m a failure. God loves me. I can shake off my failures and try again.
For example, in the classes I take, I have to remind myself that everything that I do is for God and should not be for my own self-satisfaction.
Of course, it feels awesome when I get an A, and it feels terrible when I get anything less than that. But I’ve realized that my future isn’t determined by my grades. It was already determined by God. My perspective begins to change, and school becomes more of a learning experience rather than a competition.
It’s nice to go to class and enjoy what I’m learning without feeling this pressure to constantly be the best.
But, with all of these things that I’m learning, it’s difficult to consider how to specifically use them for God. This leads me to something else that I learned.
3. “You don’t have to figure it out. God already has it figured it out.”
I would feel reluctant to act on the ideas that I’ve had because I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t doing it for my own glory. So I would end up not doing them.
But Bill Keyes, the secretary of UNC’s board of trustees, told attendees we shouldn’t worry about that.
“God is able to use you in certain situations for His glory. You don’t have to figure it out. God already has it figured out,” he said.
This doesn’t mean not to act. This means not to worry.
God has given me the talent of writing, creative design, and public speaking. Instead of worrying about what do with those talents, I enhance them by writing for College Town, doing graphic design work for my job, and taking every opportunity to speak in front of people.
I might not know how he wants me to use my talents after graduation, but God will reveal it to me.
This is all preparation because right now I still have a lot to learn. But it feels nice knowing that my future was already planned and written by God.
So, why worry, be anxious or afraid? I am a child of God. I am loved by Him. My identity is secure in Him. And the world can never take that away.