There are some jobs that just seem totally made for Christians. There’s the obvious: vicars, missionaries, youth workers. And there’s the natural fits: teachers, doctors, charities. Don’t get me wrong, those jobs deal with unimaginable challenges – probably more than most. But it seems that the day-to-day can have a tangible impact towards creating God’s kingdom on earth. Basically, you can help people.
On the other hand, there are those jobs where you have to try just a little bit harder to work out how you can serve God. I work in one of those; an advertising agency. Overall, I find advertising wonderful: colleagues are fun, the clients are interesting, and the environment is creative and stimulating; everything I hoped for when I was a lost graduate looking to step onto the ‘career ladder’. But, when I started, I found it difficult to compute how my work life and God life came together. When I was marketing fuel to truck drivers, or persuading kids to buy sweets, there was always an internal voice saying, “What would Jesus do? Wouldn’t he be telling the oil companies to stuff it?” And when Christmas campaigns specifically asked to remove any ‘offensive’ religious references, it felt like I was directly working against Him.
But, as it often happens, advertising is one of those industries that attracts interesting people – including Christians! And when I started in my current role, I quickly discovered that I was working alongside like-minded people. My first pre-conception that I was a God-loving lone ranger was quickly busted. And we started a weekly prayer group at lunchtime.
Now, this isn’t a tale of prayer performing world-changing miracles. However, maybe it is, because it tangibly changed my world. We sit in a meeting room each week working out what to pray for – from the big business challenges (that we all work honestly, that the agency grows), to the day-to-day mundaneness (that the meeting goes well, for the person who is off sick). We also pray for ourselves – that we don’t moan when things go wrong, that we don’t get stressed when time is running out before the pitch.
This has opened my mind; I can now make the connection between faith and work. I feel more invested in making my work, and my workplace, a success. Ordinary interactions are an opportunity to reflect God’s love. I make mental notes to pray for things that frustrate me, rather than letting them drag me down. And, more than that, I am encouraged that I am part of a team – both in my agency, and in the world – that aims to do the same thing. We might not be able to save a life, but we can influence culture in small ways – both in the office, and the industry. That might be creating campaigns that celebrate diversity. Or it might be framing our feedback differently. Whatever it is, if we add up all the small things, they become much bigger. As the Tesco tagline says, every little helps.
Ultimately, my definition of a ‘worthy’ job needed to be challenged, and it happened in an advertising agency. So if that’s the environment that can inspire spiritual change in me, then why not others too?
The Evangelical Alliance is organising a weekend for Christians to develop a voice wherever God has placed them. Our society needs us to speak up and speak out, whether that’s in the workplace, online, or into the media. Find out more here about the public leadership Voice for Good weekend which is taking place 14-16 October.