Q&A with Missy Wallace
I grew up going to church but had never formed a faith of my own. After college, my faith was ebbing and flowing, as was my career. I went to business school, worked in banking, then worked in management consulting. Throughout this, I had developed a bad “faith and work theology”. To me, there were A, B, and C players when it came to work. The A players were the ministers and people working directly in ministry. The B players were the teachers and social workers. And finally, the C players were the people in corporate work, which is where I placed myself.
Despite the ebbing and flowing of my faith, I found God, or I should say, God found me. I had was given the opportunity to help build a new school in Nashville and took a chance on the job. In hindsight, I probably took the job with the goal of being “higher in God’s hierarchy of work.”
At the time, I didn’t know why God cared about business.
Later in my career, my daughter got sick which required me to take three years off of work. It was during that time that I did a lot of work on my faith. Throughout the “vehicle” of my career, God has moved from the backseat, to the passenger seat, and has now finally taken the driver’s seat. I began to study what it looks like when we make idols of work. From there, I felt I needed to get this message out to more people.
As I mentioned before, the pinnacle shift in thinking from a bad faith theology to faith being the center of my work came out the need to work on my faith when my daughter got sick. From this experience, I realized just how important this type of work was and felt compelled to share this message with the Nashville community.
“Integrating your faith into your work” means something different to each person reading that phrase. Does it mean incorporating a certain ethical code into your work? Working with a focus around social justice?
For a large part of my career I was following the dualism two kingdoms model, meaning I believed the work we participate in and the culture we create in the present does not ultimately have any lasting, eternal value. I missed the mark. Ultimately, if Christ died and is coming to reign, he’s coming back to this earth, so the work we do and the spheres we influence today DO have eternal significance. My last 10 years have been spent reading and learning. To incorporate your faith into your work well means that you have a healthy understanding of “common grace.” When applied, this means that all good work comes from God, so it doesn’t matter who came up with it. Whether the work is produced by an atheist or a Christian, if it is good work, then it came from God. All truth and beauty is God’s truth and beauty. This makes it easier to appreciate good work.
Jesus was a carpenter himself—a model for the “secular” world. He met with thousands of people, and he only directly called 12 into the ministry. This perfectly illustrates that not everyone is called to work in ministry.
The Genesis model of creation is also a great example for entrepreneurs. We can look to Genesis to model creating structure out of chaos, something out of nothing. When entrepreneurs are doing these things, they are worshiping God and in their work. They are redeeming this world by looking for ways to shine light into darkness.
Practically, the Nashville Institute for Faith and Work hosts an Entrepreneur Support Group that helps CEOs better understand the theology of work. It can be an incredibly lonely path, so it’s important to find other like minded entrepreneurs who are helping you consider faith and work as it applies to your business on a regular basis.
Finally, nothing surpasses the spiritual disciplines. Make sure to spend time in scripture, and allow God to speak to you. Look for Him in the small things. Your business has been given to you to steward, it’s not yours.
God has deliberately and intentionally given every single person a set of gifts to use for the Kingdom. Pay attention to your gifts and circumstances and work with excellence.
I’m still in touch with every single boss I have ever had for more than six months. Get to know the people you look up to. Love them, serve them well, and stay in touch with them.
God only calls some people on a megaphone, most people He calls through gifting and circumstance. Working well is just as important as working out of a passion. Have goals, but let your career unfold naturally. Don’t spend so much time focused on the goals that you miss the journey. The Fall happened, so expect your work to be messy at times. Young people have a tendency to throw in the towel too easily when the work gets hard. We should serve the work; the work shouldn’t serve us. Serving the work means we are asking how we are part of God’s bigger story by using our hands, mind, and body.
Every Good Endeavor by Timothy Keller
Why Business Matters to God by Jeff Van Duzer
Culture Making by Andy Crouch
Visions of Vocation by Steven Garber
The Call by Oz Guinness