Editor’s Note: Contributing writers at Pacific Crossroads Church in Los Angeles recently announced a blog series for this month that “seeks to address the struggle so many of us feel in connecting our workplace lives to our walk with Christ.” The writers state in their introduction to the series: Pacific Crossroads Church has partnered with PCC members Steve and Margaret Lindsey to start an exciting new project called the Center for Faith + Work Los Angeles to minister to this need. The center will launch this month and the 1st Annual Conference is Saturday April 1st. You can find out more and register for the event by clicking www.faithandworkLA.com.
Previous articles in the series can be read by clicking here: The Daily Grind and here: Get Rich (and/or Die Trying); But What Is God’s Will? Also, Together LA’s interview story on Steve Lindsey and the center is found here: Ministry Launches to Help Firmly Place Faith Alongside Your Work. Below is the third article in the series.
What line of work are you in?
I’m a graphic designer specializing in branding and packaging.
Have you ever struggled with finding meaning in your work?
Prior to becoming a designer, I was trying to build a successful career in something that would utilize my expensive math/econ degree. It was a struggle to put so much energy into a vocation I didn’t connect with. It’s one thing to not like your job, but it’s another when you feel passionately for something you can’t seem to pinpoint.
Now that I’m currently doing work in line with my calling, I struggle with expecting it to bring more meaning to my life than it was meant to. I use it to replace other aspects of my life that are lacking (such as relationships…and sleep hahaha). Life was meant to be an amalgamation of different things that bring meaning, and many times I cherry pick those things.
What are the challenges you’ve encountered being a follower of Christ in the workplace?
In terms of being a designer in the industry, I struggle with wanting to be accepted as knowledgeable and relevant in our post modern society that often promotes poly/a-theism and praises a life without restraint in order to experience life to its fullest. While I believe it’s important to understand the world around us in order to create effective brands, it can be very hard to decipher when to engage and when to pull back. My job is to creatively find ways to communicate messages, and if I don’t believe in the message, it’s hard to design well.
Naturally, I want recognition and affirmation as a designer because it is to some degree reflective of who I am and what I care about. Thus, there are times I’m not able to fully engage with other designers or work on projects because there is a conflict of worldview. This can lead to feeling ostracized and “not with the times.”
How would you like to see your faith better integrated with your work [life]?
I would love to meet more Christian designers who I could grow with not just in faith but also in design skill. I would love to be with fellow believers to attend events where we are the minority. We are called to be salt of the earth and not in a Christian bubble, but sometimes it would be encouraging if I had some fellow “grains” by my side.
Do you sense God in your workplace as mostly present and active or missing and passive?
For the most part, I get to emulate what the Father did best: create! Thus, when I’m working on projects that I love – and when I feel that my role as a designer isn’t being denigrated to a slave or a machine – I feel the joy of creation that connects me to God’s world. While I love working for pro bono projects that have a direct philanthropic cause, I find just as much meaning in designing for the marketplace as long as the process in doing so remains humane (which often it does not. Ha!).
Does sharing your faith feel easy and natural or hard and awkward in your workplace?
Sharing my faith feels like all of those things: easy, natural, hard and awkward.
The easy and natural part: I’m social and don’t have a hard time talking about life and sharing the same hobbies as non-believers (in LA, I love the urban hip hop and art scene). I love narratives and love to engage people in their passions. I also love to see coworkers be surprised that I am a Christian and that they, too, can have Christian friends and not feel conflicted or judged. As a woman in my mid 30s, I’ve realized that the types of conversations that I have with my coworkers have slowly become deeper. It’s exciting when the Lord creates an opportunity to dialogue about the meaning of life with people.
The hard part: It’s one thing to share, but it’s another to invite someone in. Though I will take every chance I can get to talk about God’s role in my life, it’s not often that I can get to engaging the listener to converse about how it may impact their life. There is a strong resistance to faith/religion in secular urban cities, and I will sometimes “not go there” due to my own insecurities and fears. During the past couple of years, I’ve discovered a vibrant relationship with the Holy Spirit that has changed my life. I often pray to the Holy Spirit, our Helper, to work in these microscopic seeds of evangelism that I often feel get tossed in the wind. Thus, whenever a coworker is receptive and inquisitive about God, I find my own faith awakened and excited by hope!
Is it ever hard to connect your actual work with God’s greater kingdom purposes for this world?
OF COURSE. As much as I love to create, I have to bring home the bacon and don’t always get to choose how to do it. I have many global corporate clients that abuse their power and often make my work feel meaningless and even stupid (i.e. treating designers like robotic hands rather than creative thinkers). It’s always hard to put in endless time and effort into a product that I don’t believe should exist on the earth.
Do you experience your job as mostly “just a job” or a “calling” in life?
It’s both. With soul-sucking corporate clients, I have to tell myself that it is just a job in order to stay sane and not make a bigger deal about something I can’t change (because if I dwell in my annoyance, I will get fired in a hot second).
I ultimately know that this is my calling. Some examples proving this: I can work 70-80 hours a week and still feel energy. I think I may have carpal tunnel and tennis elbow, and yet I can’t help but keep going (my 50 year old self regrets this already). I dream in vivid colors and wake up in the middle of the night with ideas for projects. Every time I can’t solve a design problem for days on end, all the madness is still worth it once the breakthrough occurs and something finally comes to life. Only a calling would allow me to continue working so hard and sometimes without return. I thank the Lord time and time again for the arts that are not just my vocation, but also the source for beauty and freedom that has brought much healing into all aspects of my life. Our God is SO COOL!!! 😀
Note: This post originally appeared on Pacific Crossroads Church website blog.
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