In February 2009, I started working for a local community college. Previously, I had worked in a corporate office and never really pictured myself working in education long term.
As I started at the college, in some ways, I seemed to be out of place, but I knew God had strategically placed me there. He plans our every step, so I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I serve in a strong support capacity in my department, and I am often available to colleagues when illnesses and emergencies arise. I have seen how this part of my job has opened doors to offer stability and even comfort in certain situations.
Communication and language are significant on any job, and I try to speak positive language to those whom I am around, regardless of how they may speak or express themselves to me. Providing encouragement in the workplace is vital in keeping open communication and trust. Nothing energizes me more than to hear even the simplest words of encouragement. Sometimes when I have been “put to the test,” my initial reaction might be to react abruptly, but I am learning more to turn those situations into opportunities to be the Light.
I always remind myself that the Lord placed me where I am. I know many choose to separate their profession from personal life, but as a Christian, that can actually be somewhat difficult. When we carry the compassion of Christ, it is hard to suppress the desire to minister and encourage others. It is part of our nature. There is a fine line, of course, but sharing our faith and having the right attitudes in the workplace can speak volumes. The quality of our work should also reflect excellence and set a positive example. My job is my work, my career, my means of earning a living, but it is also my mission field, and I have learned to be sensitive to opportunities in order to make a difference.
This past year, especially, many faculty members and students have come to my office in search of a listening ear, words of encouragement, or advice. I am not always the person in the front, but God has given me numerous opportunities to minister from my office, and some colleagues seek me out every day for encouragement or counsel. Several have even attended church with me and others have asked about attending one day.
One of my college students is originally from Vietnam and had not lived in the United States for too long when I met her. I guess I did not realize how much friendliness meant to someone from a different country until she shared this with me recently. Not long after I had begun working at the college, I gave this friend a geographical book on the fifty states because she had recently passed the test to become an American citizen. Tears came to her as she shared how grateful she was and how much the gift meant to her. I had no idea that it had touched her so deeply, and I was truly blessed in return. This young lady has become a wonderful friend, and our families have become connected as well.
In retrospect, I see God’s hand of direction in my life. Before, I was impatient and frustrated for not finding the right job in my timing, but I learned to trust God completely, even in my career. He alone can promote, demote, or keep me exactly where I am. I strive to be an employee of excellence in the small things as much as in the big things, and I look forward to more opportunities to grow, learn, and make a difference in my workplace.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” Colossians 3:23