Take a Look. It’s in a book.*

I earned two degrees of higher education, and when I say earned, y’all I sweated for six years for those coupons that hang on the wall of my office. I would ball up into a study cocoon with ridiculously large headphones in the study room of D2C, the basement of SWEM Library, classrooms in Morton and in my grad school home at #2 Fraternity Row where I did a surprising amount of writing papers and reading stacks on stacks of articles and books.

books 1

I take for granted all of the material that I was strongly encouraged to read during those years. I chose to be a Sociology major so I spent a great deal of time, in community with others, looking at the world through the lens of various social identities. I then went to a grad program that greatly valued diversity & inclusion which means I spent time digging even deeper into the Big 8. I had amazing professors and though I didn’t always enjoy those pages and pages of syllabi, I am now grateful for the depth and the challenge of my classroom education.

As I scroll through social media, watch the news,  and experience the viewpoints of others, I am constantly amazed at the level of ignorance people have when it comes to race and ethnicity in America. There’s so much well-intentioned, “I didn’t know.” “I wasn’t exposed to that.” “I’m colorblind.”  “We didn’t talk about this in my home or school.” “I didn’t grow up with people who are different from me.” “My parents/family members instilled these beliefs in me.”  I don’t want to harp on that because there’s a whole lot of things I don’t know about many identities. We’ve all got our bubble of truth. However, what I think we all need in this world is the gumption to go beyond our often over forgiven excuses of truth.

If you truly care and you want to know more and be an active part of creating a better environment for all people, then it would be helpful if you used your Google finger to lead you to material that will aid you in ways that will create internal growth and change.  Texts that can serve as a medium that will help you stock your toolkit with answers to the questions that are marinating in your head. This foundation will also help you start a conversation with someone in your life who’s open to chatting about the hard stuff — you know, the stuff you were probably told not to talk about at the dinner table.

Oftentime, we cite fear as being the reason that we don’t move towards learning and engagement. “What if I say the wrong thing?” “I don’t want to be called a racist.” The question becomes, do you care enough to face your fear? Ignorance isn’t bad, it just means that you don’t know and we all need to support each other in the fight to alleviate ignorance. This should be a collective goal, which is probably why I am passionate about my role as an educator.

If you do your homework, then I, as a person of color,  will feel as if you have an investment in our dialogue and therefore I’m more than willing to chat it up until we have somewhere else to be, but when people come to me at ground zero, after they just finished Googling how to catch a Pokemon, who JoJo sent home on the Bachelorette,  the latest on the Kim K, T.Swift, Kanye drama, or how to change the oil in their Toyota, then I really can’t be bothered. Because, in this day and age, when you want to know something, you look it up with a quickness. Be mindful that you have the same ability when it comes to race and ethnicity. Your “I don’t know.” has become a choice. Now you must deal with the consequences.

I didn’t have everything figured out about my racial identity when I entered the College of William & Mary in 2001. I had a lot of hang ups about my Blackness, my skintone, my not so great relationships with many of my African-American peers in high school, the constant state of being called an “Oreo” or being told that I “act like a white girl”. I was done with trying to fit into some mold of blackness that didn’t feel natural to me. I read “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison repeatedly. My Sociology classes and all of those unicorn professors helped me figure it out and not only did we have the best class conversations, but they gave me SO MUCH STUFF TO READ. I don’t think we could Google back in those days.

Your teachers never just told you the answers, you had a role to play in obtaining your education. Why would this be any different?

If you are wondering what you can do in these precarious times, if you have questions, if you’re just curious, then feed your mind. I don’t mind a good conversation but, I am not every black person–I can only tell you my truth.  Ahem! Newsflash! This stuff is tiring and emotional. It’s exhausting to be the Encyclopedia of Blackness.  To help me, help you, you’re going to have to help yourself.

In order to assist you on your journey, I made a list of some of those key texts that I read in college and graduate school. I also included a group of links below to curated book lists. I’m not going to lie, this stuff is heavy,  and I remember having my mind blown while reading some of these texts as an 18-22 year old.

History is taught differently depending on where you live. I grew up in Virginia, a southern former member of the Confederacy state,  45 minutes from Colonial Williamsburg, with Jamestown and Yorktown in close proximity, and a huge military presence, so there was a great deal of emphasis on the origin story of our country.  I had to learn, not until college,  that history books glossed over and lied about many things.

Q: Whose truth gets told?

A: The truth of those in power. “Until the lion learns to write, every story will always glorify the hunter.”

It’s difficult to live from a place of awareness and knowledge when the institutions you’ve trusted with your education aren’t providing you with various versions of the truth or lying by omission.

books 2

Gain some new perspective. Evaluate new truths. Refine your truth. Read for you and read for those you care about in this world. You owe it to your potential. Reflect on the versions of truth that have guided your life and be open to disruption. Be open to the dissonance that occurs when you dig deep into a new space. THEN, ask the questions festering in your mind. Those questions are simply waiting…waiting for you to gather the courage to ask.

Happy Reading!

 

Vanderbilt’s Office of Inclusion Initiatives and Cultural Competence created an entire diversity toolkit here: http://www.vanderbilt.edu/iicc/resources/diversity/

*Reading Rainbow was just EVERYTHING!

Advertisements

The Freshman Project

FP

 

A couple of years ago I did a five post series called, College, Ready or Not?, that focused on finances, making friends, going Greek, stress management, and the importance of listening to your instincts in the collegiate environment. This was great foreshadowing for the opportunity I had to contribute to The Freshman Project: A Collection of Practical and Clever Advice About The College Experience. This book is for college students diving into their first-year of college AND for those people in their life who serve as their advocates, allies, mentors, friends, teachers, guidance counselors, mentors, and champions.

After serving as a Student Affairs staff member on the campuses of Duke University and Vanderbilt University for the past 9 years, I know that parents/guardians always want to know, “How do I prepare my student for college?” This book can help you answer that question with pages of expert knowledge that help you have the conversations that matter most with your student.

Gift this book to a student and they can spend some time preparing for their next incredible chapter.

Topics include:

  • Survive Failure
  • Build Healthy Love Relationships
  • Pick a Major
  • Be a Beginner
  • Navigate Depression and Anxiety
  • Discover Leadership Opportunities
  • Honor the Differences
  • Sleep Smart
  • Consider Fraternity/Sorority Life

All of these topics are critical for an incoming college student to discuss with a caring individual in their life AND there are still many more topics in the book. Providing them with this information will provide a strong foundation that will help support them as they navigate their first-year of college.

I’m honored to have a chapter in the book “Discover Leadership Opportunities”. Erin Fischer of The Leadership and Training Studio put together an all-star roster of expert contributors who give you top notch nuggets of wisdom.

If you’re a student or a supporter of a student and you want  deeper insight into the collegiate experience while adding some tools to your toolbox to help you both be successful, then this book is for you.

Want a copy? I’d love to send you some purchase information.

Want to develop a program around the first-year college experience?

Email me at krystalnclark@gmail.com so that I can send you purchase information and we can begin planning something positive for you community.

 

Want to read my series, College, Ready or Not?

Part 1

Come Back to Calm

Inconvenient Friends

Go With Your Gut

Money, Too Much and Never Enough

The Greek Thing

 

Thanks for reading.

Krystal

 

I Was Here.

“…it’s what remains when you’re gone.”

Legacy.

I recently began watching Game of Thrones and this definition was provided by one of the many Lords to my girl, Arya (LOVE HER).

I began thinking about legacy after having the privilege of attending a retirement party for my boss’ boss. He’s worked on the same campus for 40 years. 40 years! That’s not really a thing anymore.

At the party, as pictures of his time on campus flashed across the screen, people from across those 40 years showed up to shake his hand, give him a hug, deliver deeply thoughtful gifts, share with him a fun memory and a sincere thanks for the impact he had on their life. It was beautiful, emotional, and really, just perfect. Hell, even the deviled eggs had names!

His legacy was on full display in that room. He’s no longer coming to work on a daily basis but he doesn’t have to, because he has left an indelible imprint on the campus and those who have ever been in his presence.

I became a bit overwhelmed and pensive as I stewed over what people might have to say about me at the end of my career. At my retirement party, what, if anything, will be said about me and my work? Will I have made an impact? Been a gamechanger? Left people with words that their head and heart will not allow them to forget? Inspire people enough that they would cross state lines to give me a hug?

A day later I attended the Creative Souls Launch Party and in the front of the room stood a desk covered with paper that had the question, “What do you want your legacy to be?” scrawled in the center. I took up residency at that desk because, well, my feet hurt and I was hot. I soon found that not only was the chair comfortable BUT it was a great way to meet people and I was able to ponder this question throughout the evening. Here’s what I wrote:

legacy 3

Not sure if this is complete but I certainly would not be alarmed if this is what was said about me at a retirement party. As I sat at the desk the creative lot of women that approached the question all responded with a similar response, “Wow, that’s a hard question.” “I don’t know.” I’m going to have to think about this one.” “Hmph, that’s a heavy question.”

Yes, it is a hard question—as it should be.

Your legacy is an outcome. In education, we have learning outcomes and legacy could be called your “living outcome” or “working outcome”. When I’m planning a program, I start from developing a clear picture of what I want students to learn from this experience. I then build the program around those outcomes. This will guide the activities I choose, the speakers I invite to share, and the resources I provide during the program. The key takeaways have been planted into the curriculum. Legacy is something that you have to live into—once you’ve decided what you want your legacy to be (and it shall certainly change as you do) then you must act accordingly. Your actions and your words must be in alignment with the legacy you desire to leave behind for others.

Reflecting about your legacy adds a strong level of intentionality to your life. Live and work as you want to be remembered.

At the same event located at Storyville USA, I ran into this wall. “The key to immortality is to first live a life worth remembering.” –adding this to the to-do list.

legacy 1

Regardless of whether we intend to or not, we all leave a legacy behind. The opportunity and the responsibility we have in the present moment is to design the legacy we want instead of acquiring the default setting.

What do you want your legacy to be? What do you hope people say about you upon retirement or your departure from this life? Are you living into your legacy? If not, what actions do you need to take in order to do so?

Krystal

 

 

 

 

 

Keep Swimming.

The #CreativeSoulsChallenge, Day 5 is to blog about 3 ways that I stay motivated and I love chatting about motivation so this one’s a treat. I’ve been able to do two presentations on motivation this year at the College Panhellenic Conference and Vanderbilt’s The Leadership Studio.

I’m a fan of Daniel H. Pink’s book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. As luck would have it, he provides 3 ways to motivate yourself and others that are a departure from our classic extrinsic motivators of money, food, and stuff. When you want people to do higher level work and be creative, you’re going to have cater to their intrinsic motivators–things that come from a personal and internal space.

A.M.P

Autonomy–Am I able to self direct my time, task, technique, and team?

Mastery– Am I getting better at something?

Purpose– Am I doing something meaningful and relevant for my life or the lives of others?

When I read this book, I could clearly reflect on moments when I’ve had a lapse in motivation, and how it was connected to one of these factors.

Drive new

A= Pink states that one of the “t’s” might be more important for you than the others. Perhaps you don’t care if someone tells you how to do something (technique) but you want to be able to choose when you do it (time). For me, time and team, are important to maintaining a high level of motivation.

Time= I don’t like anyone to be in charge of my time. Only my boss (sparingly) and my boss’ boss (sparingly) are able to put meetings on my calendar. If I feel like I don’t have control over my time, I’m not happy and I will not be motivated to get the work done.

Team= I  really like to choose my team. Inherited teams are hard for me.

Do you have autonomy over the areas that matter to you? How are you providing autonomy in these areas to those you supervise? Or are you micromanaging the motivation right out of the room?

M= I’m an achiever. I have to know that I’m getting better at the work I’m doing in my full-time job as well as my side hustles and community work. Improvement is highly motivating for me when I speak or host educational programs. Have I gotten better? Have we improved as a team? On top of that, for me to be truly motivated, I have to want to get better at the skills utilized for a project.

In general, people want to develop and grow as a person and a professional. How is this work helping them to move toward mastery? How are you helping people track their growth? Are you celebrating their improvement? Recognition is good.

P= The WHY is critically important for my motivation. What is the purpose of the project? Why does this task matter? How is it contributing to the bigger picture? “Because I said so” doesn’t work with me at the age of 33. I have to know if I’m making a difference. Knowing the Purpose really helps motivate me when I’m engaged in tasks that I don’t enjoy. I hate the financial pieces of my current job BUT I have to do those things so that we can continue offering great programs. Now, if I don’t find a WHY or if the WHY I find is ridiculous then I’ve totally discovered the root of my motivational hardship. If it doesn’t matter then stop doing it. No one has time or desire to do meaningless work.

People have to know that what they are doing matters. Why are we raising this money? Why are we painting this wall? Why are we stuffing these envelopes? Take them back to the WHY when motivation declines.

 

Those are my three ways that I stay motivated. I think through these elements before I begin a project and when I can sense myself hitting a wall, I tap back into this knowledge and do a quick assessment of what I’m missing. Perhaps I need to take more control over a certain area, remember how what I’m doing is helping me become better at a desired skillset, and remind myself that what I’m doing matters.

Do an A.M.P. assessment the next time you experience motivation issues.

Want to watch an animated version of the book? Go.

Daniel H. Pink’s TED Talk? Go.

Thanks for reading!

Krystal

 

Why Are We Still Talking About This?

There are a few things that I’m really over reading about on social media. If I’m reading about it then that means people are ACTUALLY having these irrelevant and unnecessary conversations. I just feel like we should, as a society, be BEYOND these things. Perhaps, I expect too much of humans.

Disclaimer: I must admit that I have great privilege in that most of the time I ask for forgiveness (or not) instead of permission. I’m not expected to wear a uniform to work. I also work in education which really tries hard to NOT be a corporate environment BUT I mean, who are we kidding? A College/University is a business. My clients happen to be 18-22 year olds. Often really great 18-22 years olds who wish me Happy Birthday, make me laugh, and leave me donuts and honeybuns.

The topic that made me itch today was, “Are workout clothes appropriate for work?” REALLY?! The world of athleisure is a thing and people like Hannah Bronfman (major crush) are helping women understand how to step up their athletic wear to make it fashionable and appropriate enough for work. I laughed a great deal when a colleague shared with me a TODAY show segment about athleisure and how they advised women to whip on a strappy heel with their sweatpants. WHAT?!

I think at this point the term athleisure just makes me giggle BUT I take the meaning behind it seriously as a professional woman who floats through the world juggling a nice number of roles and wearing a few different and stylish hats. I’m also a person who does really great work in leggings, t-shirt, and sneakers because I’m not worried about my Spanx rolling, a run in my tights, and my left pinkie toe killing  me in heels as I hustle around a brick campus.

I work and live in one of the most obese states in the US. I’ve always been overweight. I come from a large people and I REALLY enjoy biscuits. Working out makes me feel happier, relieves me of stress, and infuses me with a great deal of energy. I’ve also been known to lose a few pounds. When I work out, it’s an act of prioritizing me over my work, which makes me not resent the amount of time that I devote to my professional life. By taking care of myself, I can provide a better version of Krystal to all of the other stakeholders in my life. I’m better for my bosses, my students, my staff, my friends, my colleagues, and my family. If I’m healthy, that leads to less time out for sick days or doctor’s appointments. I also work in an environment in which, rather I’d always like to or not, I serve as a model for my clients. Modeling the Way is a critical piece of working in Student Affairs and if I can make time to engage in fitness, then perhaps I can serve as encouragement for a overly involved student to do the same. We urge our students to practice self-care and make wellness a part of their life. For many of them this means incorporating physical activity into their day. There’s even a hashtag called #SAFit to encourage folks in my field to include fitness into their packed and often student directed schedules.

All of this sounds pretty great, right? A happy, healthy, motivated, confident, and engaged Krystal is the best Krystal to have on your team. Not the grumpy sloth I become after skipping days of Barre3 or whatever ClassPass adventure on my schedule.

Then why do we keep admonishing people for sporting workout gear to the office? This is actually improving my work and if I’m getting the job done then should we really be hung up on what I wear to the office? What we’ve defined as professional dress, for many reasons, needs to be updated. Many of the women that have adopted athleisure as their work style, talk about it as a way of being comfortable while they work. These clothes help them perform at their self-defined personal best.

Barre3

Here’s the thing, we preach balance and life prioritization, but don’t want to always deal with the reality of what this looks like in practice.

There are times when I could make it to a fitness class in time if I didn’t have to worry about changing clothes or I could make it back to the office in a more timely manner if I didn’t have to take the time to do my entire morning routine for a 2nd time post workout. This is balance/prioritization in practice. If this isn’t acceptable, then I might just forego a workout because I don’t have time to change in a phone booth like Superman.

Yes, I know there are all of these office friendly workouts that people integrate into their day and that’s fantastic.  I’ve done some Barre3 10 minute workouts in the middle of my office but sometimes, you need a good lifting session or some time on the TRX. Unless you have the best office  EVER (if you even have an office) , these things might be super difficult to make happen between your desk and your decorative fichus.

Instead of looking at someone in a dri-fit top and a pair of workout pants as messy, lazy, unprofessional, and disrespectful, what if we looked at this person as just trying to get it all done in the best way they can?  What if we looked at this person as someone who has their priorities in order? What if we looked at this person as working hard to be their best in order to do their best work for and with others? We put athletes up on pedestals and invest billions of dollars in high performance  clothes that we hope will make us look, play, throw, shoot, swing, run, jump, flip, catch, kick, row, box, ski, and swim like they do BUT don’t bring that mess to work! Work, the place where you’re expected to perform like an Olympian for at least 40 hours of your week.

Now, I must admit that when I do wear workout clothes to the office I tend to do the following:

  1. Wear an oversized top to cover my bum.
  2. Ensure that what I wear is so fresh and so clean.
  3. Choose items that are black. I don’t rock my most colorful leggings on these days.
  4. Make sure that I’m not too exposed.
  5. If I happen to workout and then go to work, I take grooming items with me to freshen up at my desk or in my car. Deodorant or Dove’s Dry Spray , BeautyCounter’s Rose Water Spray, wipes, and fragrance. The goal is not to show up as a sweaty and smelly mess.
  6. Make sure that I have a light load of meetings post workout.

I know that these 6 items are my own way of contributing to the problem but to be honest, they also just help with my comfort level. I know that some of my friends feel they could never just pop back into the office post workout because of the amount they sweat in the process. I get that and this kit has helped me not be as concerned about this issue. I also would never wear leggings or workout pants without covering the junk in my trunk. I just can’t! No shade to those who do. You have much more confidence in your behind than I do.

I just think we’ve got to effectively design the outcomes of our office culture and be open to the steps that need to be made in order to achieve those outcomes. The tech world has certainly figured this out as my friends who work at Google and Microsoft rock sneakers, t-shirts, and jeans,  but what about everyone else? Do we really need to discount a person’s entire skillset because they wore a pair of sneakers, workout leggings, and a t-shirt to the office?

Stop with all the policing and get back to work. Let people be great.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What?! An Extra 24? Hey Februrary.

Feb 1

 

This post is the definition of late. We are 9 days into Black History Month and this post should have been delivered 4 days ago. I just realized that there could be layers to this statement but there’s enough commentary (too much) circulating about blackness after a certain superstar decided to stray from her nonthreatening lyrical roots and get more in touch with her actual roots. As I commented to a friend this morning, “don’t let anyone interrupt your slaying time.” Therefore, I SLAY! Today’s post is about the slayage that has already and will continue to take place in the month of February.

It’s a leap year, y’all! We get that extra 24 hours. I’ve scheduled a nap. How about you?

Oh, and I don’t do Valentine’s Day. I’m not even going to act like I have some higher intellectual view towards the holiday. I’m not in love and I haven’t had an actual Valentine’s Day since I was in college therefore, I’m jealous and it makes me sad. So there! Get out of my face with all of your pink and red shit. Yes, I know, I’m going to spend the day engaged in loving myself and the Lord. Yeah, I got it. 

February Happenings

  1. Launch of The Leadership Studio/ Communication Studio Session
  2. S.A.I.L Success Session
  3. Steve’s Birthday!
  4. JLN Masquerade
  5. NEL Opening Mixer
  6. JLN Board Meeting
  7. Super Bowl
  8. First PREVAIL Planning Team Meeting
  9. NEL Facilitator Training
  10. JLN In Home Meeting
  11. JLN 8th Signing at MCJCH
  12. InTune Alpha Chi Omega @ UGA
  13. Brene Brown & Valentine’s Day
  14. Nashville Emerging Leaders
  15. MOTOWN @ TPAC
  16. Relationships Session on Commons
  17. Dare 2 Be @ Crosspoint
  18. Mavenly + Co visit
  19. Tamara’s Goodbye Brunch
  20. IMPACT @ American University
  21. First draft due of book chapter

Feb 2

February Hopes

  1. Submit NELA Application on 2/15
  2. Continue BossyPants and Leadership Instablog research
  3. 3 posts to PeculiarPearl
  4. Complete S.A.I.L Session 2- Authenticity
  5. Send out Doodle for next if:gathering in March
  6. Complete NLC Homework
  7. Finalize plans for EVOLVE
  8. Begin planning for EVOLVE
  9. Start planning for TEDxVanderbiltUniversity 2016!
  10. Beyoncé Tickets!!! Prayers, please!
  11. Set up meetings with at least 2 past JLN Presidents
  12. Set up a dentist appointment
  13. Finalize 33rd Birthday Trip
  14. Pray for an open heart and mind when it comes to this season of my life. Pray that the Lord will give me the strength to embrace it and not let it lead me to lose my faith or hope in His promises. To constantly seek to be intentionally full of light, love, and laughter.
  15. Sweat at least 30 minutes each day (my fitness motivation is not in a good place)
  16. Leave at least 1 blank night a week
  17. Be in bed by midnight
  18. Buy less stuff (2 sweaters from LOFT, new Spanx, mani and pedi for Masquerade)

Now, it’s time to work. 20 days and counting, my friends.

I see it, I want it
I stunt, yeah, little hornet
I dream it, I work hard
I grind ’til I own it… (Beyoncé, Formation)

I’ve updated my January Happenings & Hopes post in case you’d like to see my success rate.

What about you? What’s happening for you during the month of love?

Krystal “I strongly dislike those chalky candy hearts” Clark

 

 

 

“I Am Launching A Rocket.”

“I am such a small person. I don’t have many talents. I’m weak. Nothing I do has any real significance.” says many a Christian about the possibility of being used by God. Schaeffer’s response to that man or woman is that, “with God, there are no little people.”- Francis A. Schaeffer, No Little People 

On Wednesday, I attended the Faith and Work Summit hosted by the Nashville Institute for Faith & Work. I didn’t really know what to expect from this event but left with pages of notes and a head full of renewed thoughts surrounding the concept and realization of “work”.

faith and work 1

Great event! Looking forward to more learning from this organization. 

Work according to one of our speakers doesn’t have to be in an office. Work comes from many places including if you’re a stay at home mom, a student, or a volunteer in your community.

I have a pretty clutch roster of work but I can have a very negative attitude about going to work and sometimes about completing aspects of the work that I do. I have a tendency to look forward to Friday and live for the weekend. I really love a day off and a snow day is often a dream come true. Getting out of bed in the morning can be rough and watching the minutes slowly tick by can be painful as I sloth my way towards 5 pm. I wish for meetings to end and I sigh heavily as I dive into a less than desirable project. I hustle to close my door to secure quiet moments from the students and my co-workers. I develop a bad attitude and use pretty profane language in reference to my job and sometimes my co-workers. Yeesh, I must sound like a dragon lady. Please know that  for the most part, I love my co-workers, the students, and the work that I do. Really, I do. 

leaving work

You know I’m not the only one. 

Unfortunately, this is not a unique story as it seems that most people have a certain loathsome disposition towards the work week. T.G.I.F and FriYay! are all over my newsfeed. Prayers for the Lord to just get people to the weekend are a regular sight and when you ask people how they’re doing at work, they might often respond with, “just two days till Friday” or “just hanging in there until the weekend” and when it’s finally Friday you get that shiny day of the week as a one word response with a big grin. It’s like we’ve crossed a finish line and now get to celebrate our PR, at least until Monday rolls back around and let’s not get started on people’s pure and unbridled hatred of that day of the week.

The Faith and Work Summit wants us, as Christians, to think differently about work. Scott Sauls from Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville, TN decided to slay the stage and drop the mic with all the good words he rained out upon the audience. I’m not Presbyterian and Rev. Sauls was pretty amazing. I’m always looking for a good Word. 

First, we, as Christians, are designed for work. “God is a worker.” Whenever we encounter Him in the Bible, He is working by creating or redeeming. When we first meet Him, He is working and when He is done, He rests on the Sabbath. That’s our model for life. We, being made in His image, are created to work. We are a product of His work.

Rev. Sauls  spoke about work from a place of Dignity, Mission, and Witness.

faith and work 2

I’m a believe in taking old school handwritten notes. I come armed with a notebook and pen. This is only 1 page of many. 

Dignity 

I love the quote at the top of the page because we are reminded that there are no little, people, places, or jobs. All of our work is significant and can be used by God. We live in a world of “just”. I remember eating at Logan’s Roadhouse (don’t judge me) with a friend for lunch and our server said, “Oh, I’m just a trainee.” –I looked at her, and said “don’t say that, what you’re doing is important.” I have a visceral reaction to anyone saying they are “just” this or “just” that. What you are doing matters. You have to believe that. I love that he referenced us participating in a “socially constructed hierarchy of vocation”. Lawyers, Doctors, Bankers, CEOs, College Presidents at the top and Plumbers, Sanitation Workers, Housekeepers, and Exterminators at the bottom with the rest of us shoved into the middle. But can you imagine a world in which we did not have Sanitation Workers? A world full of Lawyers and no Sanitation Workers? I mean, tell me who should be on top of the hierarchy in that world? Sanitation Workers are Royalty!  Remember, Matthew 20:16, “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” At some point, this will all be flipped on its head. All vocations matter and contribute to the bigger picture.

He told a story that ended with the lesson, “whatever lane you’re in, you’re launching a rocket.” I thought about that on Thursday and Friday morning. No matter how insignificant I might feel my job is in this world, I have to internalize that, I’m launching a rocket. Whatever I am doing is contributing to God’s masterpiece. Finding the dignity in my work and showing others the same is a critical element of integrating my faith with my vocation.

I grew up with a grandmother, aunt, and mother who all worked as cleaning women and nannies. My grandmother was the definition of The Help. My mom cleaned hotel rooms, and my aunt and mother did in-home healthcare. When I was younger, I didn’t look highly upon this caste of work and I vowed to never have to do anything like that in my life. As I’ve gotten older, I understand now how honorable that work is and that I’m blessed to have had women in my life who worked ridiculously hard to “launch a rocket.” There is dignity in their work and the contributions they made to the lives of others by engaging in this work. I am sure that as they were cleaning up after others, helping to make life easier for the ill and elderly, and raising other people’s children that they served as proof to others that God is real. 

Mission

“God has invited you to partner with him in something meaningful.” –What if this is the way we thought about work? A partnership between you and God to do something meaningful in this world. How could you not be excited to go to work? There is a thrill in ingesting this as your truth.

Work has a mission element to it and can be a calling. In whatever area you work, you are helping to forward the mission of God. I’m an educator and he stated that this is reflective of the wisdom and mind of God.

Witness

Last, he spoke about Witness and that “awareness in God’s work should compel us and liberate us to go for it.” We have read of and heard of His great works. We know the beautiful results of His work. We’ve witnessed it. Because we know this, why wouldn’t we want to work? His grace and His mercy will carry us through and His arms are always open to us. “There is no year end review with God.” He’s not going to fire you. So, do the work, develop a desire to do the work, and feel free to do the work with the full knowledge that He’s in your corner.

I sometimes get nervous about launching new programs at work or I’m unsure how to handle a predicament that a student has dropped on my round table. My students are often a great deal more “book smart” than I am and sometimes that can be a little overwhelming but I know the goodness of His work and letting these feelings hold me back is not necessary and it isn’t what He wants from me in this world. He wants me to do work and keep His example in mind.

Dignity

Mission

Witness

The goal is to not shape my identity around success and another speaker urged us to “ignore the pull of the concern for the end result.” Be in the midst of the process of your work.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Picking up this book this weekend. Also looking more into Katherine Alsdorf and her work in this area. 

My Lightbulb

The way that I view work, the way that I approach my work, the way that I do my work should be wrapped around my faith. Now, this can often be a bit hard for me to think about because I work at a private institution and we’ve had some grumbling with faith-based organizations and their connection to the University. We work to be a diverse and inclusive institution on all spectrum of identity. What I was reminded of is that, my job is not to baptize people in the middle of the student center, my job is to just love people. Love them, be there for them, listen to them, support them, laugh with them, allow them to cry, be thoughtful, pass along any knowledge that I possess, be a friendly face, a warm heart, create environments and opportunities for them to thrive, and sometimes I’ve found that college students just want a hug. A very appropriate hug. My job is not to “get them saved”. My job is to be a shining example of God’s love. That’s it.

I have students who are openly believers and I have students who I’ve never once had a conversation about faith. And that’s fine, because my only job is for them to feel like there’s something good about me being in their midst. That goodness is that my work is backed by Him.

My Truth

To be honest, I’m a pretty moody person and on top of that, I’m a task oriented human being. When I get into a project–I don’t like to be disturbed. I like when people make appointments and it’s really hard for me to get back on track after being interrupted. I have outbursts of chatter and giggles and the next moment, I’m done with everyone and just want to be left alone. I have a quick temper. I only have a certain level of tolerance for feelings and on most days, I just want to tell people that they need to get up and shake it off. I have to work really hard to have good empathetic and developmental conversations. We didn’t do that in my family. We just kept moving and all the “stuff” dealt with itself or just never was dealt with at all. I’m a roller coaster, my friends. I’m perfectly imperfect. 

My Prayer

What I hope and what I will now begin to pray is that I create a new outlook on work. Because I know that I’m blessed to have the work that I have in my life. That I see my work and the work of others from a place of Dignity, Wisdom, and Mission. That I believe that I am launching a rocket and that I’m in a partnership with God to do so. God is a worker and that part of me being His means that I’m a worker too. I am made for it. My job is not to get people saved, it is simply to love them. My success is not the numbers on my Success Plan but instead in how I’m forwarding the mission of Christ. My vocation matters and He can use me and my work for a greater purpose. When I wake up in the morning, I am going to do His good work and I have to remind myself of this every time I find myself in the valley wishing for Friday. God’s work isn’t just in the church and isn’t just for pastors and missionaries. All good work is God’s work. 

There was then a really strong panel that I’ll talk about in another post. What a full and blessed night!

Check out the Nashville Institute for Faith & Work at nifw.org @NashFaithWork (Instagram & Twitter), /NashFaithWork on Facebook, or send over an email to info@nifw.org.

I now have to pick up Timothy Keller’s, Every Good Endeavor, to dig deeper into this topic.

What about you? What’s your perspective on work and the integration of your faith with your vocation?

Krystal “Do Work” Clark