In what world does an interactive media designer with a background in finance and venture capital become the Content and Communications Manager at a seminary? How and why does this equation make sense?
In my wildest imaginations, I never dreamed I would become the manager of content creation and communication efforts for marketplace leaders desiring to reconcile their work lives with their faith.
The golden path in finance leads to CFO. The golden path in venture leads to cashed out GP emeritus. The golden path in storytelling, interactive or not, leads to some association with the revenue lines generated by the ideas of Walt Disney or Steve Jobs.
On the flip side of this coin is theology and the distribution channels for its saturation of the marketplace. I have been a Christian all of my life, but it is important to highlight that my adolescent instructions within my faith never addressed God’s concerns for why, where, and how I should work when I became a responsible adult.
I have been a Christian all of my life, but it is important to highlight that my adolescent instructions within my faith never addressed God’s concerns for why, where, and how I should work when I became a responsible adult.
My adolescent theological understandings placed God in a box labeled Sunday service that I also opened when I needed a moral compass to ensure that I was getting into heaven. God cared about me being a good Christian girl who did not lie, cheat, steal, or kill, attended church regularly, paid my tithes, and boldly declared my salvation in efforts to guarantee my ticket on the glory train to heaven when I died.
God did not care about where I went to college, what I majored in, or who my friends were so long as they did not kill or steal. And God surely had no opinion about where I worked.
All this changed when I graduated college and realized that the job I worked so hard to acquire made me miserable and did not align with my values, specifically the needs and concerns of the people I loved. I was having a quarter life crisis that questioned my morality, but I had no understanding of God’s stance in the matter. It would be this chaotic, hopeless, and lonely season in my life to inspire my questioning of God’s opinion on my living Monday through Saturday.
In 2009, I entered adulthood to find myself spending a majority of my awake hours doing things that did not align with my own truth, and it was this suffocating reality that forced me to finally take God out of the box.
I found myself spending a majority of my awake hours doing things that did not align with my own truth, and it was this suffocating reality that forced me to finally take God out of the box.
We live in the age of the influencer. If you spend about five minutes on social media, through news feeds, follower counts, and like icons, you will see who is popular. From the looks of it, we can very easily assume that popular opinion has a significant and beneficial place in deciding who we ought to be when we show up in the world. But does the road tell the car where and how to drive, or what to look like? No. The car maker does.
There exists a spiritual wealth gap in the marketplace. This is the reality that the demands of our everyday life are not influenced in proportion to the wisdom, power, and divine opinion of the holy spirit of God who authors and is the true sustainer of all beings. Fuller Seminary is a global leader in the world of discipleship training. The Max De Pree Center for Leadership has been charged with translating and restructuring the resources of Fuller Seminary for marketplace leaders who desire to align their faith with why, how, and where they work to maintain an income.
This does not require that one becomes a theologian, pastor, or full-time minister. It demands that one works with an open heart and is not afraid to use their skillsets, position, career, and company as conduits for the kingdom of God to influence how we all live well Monday through Sunday. This is me, Clarissa Joan Middleton, the new content and communications manager at the Max De Pree Center for Leadership. I am a marketplace leader who took her faith out of the box and allowed it to influence her impact in the marketplace. Now God has asked me to take my marketplace skillsets out of their box so that they can be used in the Kingdom.
It demands that one works with an open heart and is not afraid to use their skillsets, position, career, and company as conduits for the kingdom of God to influence how we all live well Monday through Sunday.
The bible says that God can use all things for the glory of those who love God and are called according to his purpose. “All things” certainly includes our work. I am thrilled to be the newest team member at the Max De Pree Center for Leadership, and I am excited to use my creativity and my business skillsets to support our center’s mission.
My hope is that through our obedience to God’s call on our lives, my colleagues and I will demonstrate models and create resources that enhance the capacity for leaders to step out of their boxes too and grow their capacity to make change as faithful followers of Christ in the marketplace.
Clarissa Joan Middleton is the De Pree Center’s Content & Communications Manager. She is an artist committed to social change by way of immersive storytelling designed to enrich the spirit. Clarissa holds an MFA in Interactive Media from the USC School of Cinematic Arts where she launched The Being Academy, a digital health and wellness entertainment platform. Prior to her studies at USC, Clarissa worked in business strategy and impact investing. She is also a talented writer whose work can be appreciated on Moguldom Media’s digital publication MadameNoire.