By Ellen Reinhard
We have all heard it said we live in the “Union bubble.” It is the world we create through the strong community and feeling we are always at “home.” This bubble needs to pop.
At Union, we have the privilege of our opinions on faith being the norm. Being a Christian is always acceptable. My faith has never been challenged and the way I am taught to look at the world is always through a Christian lens.
This aspect of the university was one reason I chose Union four years ago as a senior in high school. It has remained important to me that my faith is taught to go hand-in-hand with my profession. I appreciate that the faculty are grounded in doctrine and are willing to share their faith. It is easy to feel comfortable.
But does this sheltering prepare me for the next step in life: the dreaded “real world?”
Louis DeLuca, photographer for The Dallas Morning News for 18 years and a Christian, has always worked at a secular company.
“I have prayed several times to move to something a little less ‘behind enemy lines,’ but the answer has always seemed to be that this is my mission field,” DeLuca said.
“As a Christian it is taxing because for the most part, the news world is very anti-God and there is definitely a bias against any faith-based people and organizations with journalism.”
DeLuca and I share similar stories. In the summer of 2010, I interned at an advertising agency in Kentucky. It was my first internship and first time working in the professional world, other than part-time jobs in high school.
I knew going into the job it was a secular company and would be different from the comfortable setting I am in each semester at Union. However, I was shocked at how different the environment was and how challenging it was for my faith.
I could not have asked for a better company with which to work. They treated every client with respect and were beyond helpful in teaching me the skills of the job. Even with all these positive aspects, I still left most days feeling discouraged that I was a lone ranger in the department of faith.
I found myself less inclined to talk about God when I felt I was the only Christian. I should have had the courage to speak up and make those around me aware of my beliefs. Yet, when it comes down to it, did I really know how to share, especially with my superiors?
“There have been many opportunities to share Christ with coworkers and subjects on assignments,” DeLuca said. “The Lord seems to like to surprise me with those opportunities and I want to be ready to share my faith.”
I can recall one instance when a coworker mentioned her family attending church and from then on, I found myself looking to her to be the good example. I expected her to be appropriate with her words and to act professional with occupational integrity.
I tried to act with similar integrity. I was trustworthy, honest, never involved myself in gossip and treated others with respect.
Maybe that is all I needed to do. I have always been taught not to force my views on others and to be sensitive to the work environment, but we all know how to be “good people.” Our faith should be distinguishable. My life as a student, and after I move into the professional world, should be so centered around God that people notice there is something different.
I wonder if I missed the chance to truly represent Christ because I was so busy figuring out exactly what my coworkers believed and how much I should talk about my faith.
The only adults I am surrounded by in the “Union bubble” are Christians: my professors, high school parents at the youth group where I volunteer and those in my church community.
It is important to build a community on campus. By involving ourselves in student organizations and ministry opportunities, we can take advantage of where we are for the years we are here.
However, it is just as necessary to be around those with different views. I learned so much about my faith this summer because it was tested. I learned that if my faith is true, I can be a strong Christian when it is not the norm. We should be constantly testing our faith to see if it can stand up against the world.
DeLuca said there is a need for more Christians in the secular workplace.
“I firmly believe the Lord wants to place a light in every area of darkness,” DeLuca said. “It is important to rely on Christ for your strength and avoid being distracted by the secular world. Christ’s way is harder, but so much better.”
Many of us will work in Christian organizations and companies. Just as many of us, if not more, will work in secular companies where our faith is not what we have in common with people.
From the experience DeLuca has working in the field, he said, “I encourage Union students to go into secular media (professions) to bring salt and light to the very powerful entity that is the media. If the Lord leads you, secular organizations will quite likely be your mission field.”
Without purposefully expanding our activities and the people we come in contact with, we will never be challenged. Once we leave the “Union bubble” we will be immersing ourselves in a world we will not only be ill-prepared for, but we will be fighting the desire to not stand out among the crowd.