“So…what do you do?” A common question we receive when we meet people in the San Francisco Bay Area. All too often, our culture tells us that our identity is rooted in what we do. I’m an Enneagram Type 3, which I’ve discovered means that I find joy in my achievements and am always striving to make the most impact wherever I go. What started me off in my faith and work journey was the tension in the question, “How does my faith intersect with my work?” This was especially apparent when I graduated from college in San Diego. The next steps were not visible for me, and I didn’t know what my career was going to be. I worked various jobs after college, such as roofing, a three-person startup, and then for a nonprofit.
Ministry was the only vocation I knew. I had volunteered as a student leader in college to lead a group of students to downtown San Diego to build relationships with those affected by homelessness. After college, I had my first corporate job working at the San Diego Rescue Mission. Our mission was to transform lives. I had the opportunity to witness people restore their relationships with God, themselves, and other people at the Mission. I could clearly see the work I was doing mattered to God, but it was hard for me to see it in other jobs and vocations. I eventually moved back to San Jose to be close with my family. There, I had my first corporate job as an administrative assistant for a semiconductor company.
During this same season, I met Denise through a mutual friend of ours who posted about the Faith & Work Journey (F&WJ) Program on Facebook. It instantly caught my eye because I was looking for ways to meet new people, and it was a subject I was interested in – integrating faith and work. Our mutual friend connected us together, and Denise and I met for coffee. I had a chance to listen to her story about how she started the program, and how it was brought to the SF Bay Area. I was inspired to participate in the local pilot program for F&WJ at Menlo Church, and I underwent the six-week program.
Through the program, I learned there is no separation between ministry and secular work. All of it is holy to God, and all of it has a purpose. I’m also able to see common grace within everyone. It humbles me that because I’m a Christian and I know God, it doesn’t mean that I’m a better worker. We as Christians have a perspective in approaching work where we can see how the work we do reflects God’s love.
Everyone regardless of their own personal relationship with God partners with God to bring His kingdom here on earth. Even the work we do on earth if left unfinished will be completed by God. The story of “Leaf by Niggle” by J.R.R. Tolkien gives the metaphor of a painter named Niggle who spends his entire life desiring to paint a grandiose forest, yet spends all of his life only painting a single leaf. When he meets his creator in the afterlife, he is greeted with his grandiose forest he envisioned. The work left unfinished here will be finished by God.
by Wesley Tran; F&WJ Alum