How a Teacher, Pediatrician, App Developer and Corporate Lawyer Are Co-Laboring with Christ to Make All Things New
by Jeff Haanen
At “All Things New,” DIFW’s annual fundraiser and celebration of vocation, four professionals in the DIFW community shared how God is using them in their work to “make all things new” in the context of their daily work. Here are their stories:
Britta Apple – High School English Teacher
One area of brokenness that I encounter as a high school English teacher is within the lives of my students. It ranges anywhere from troubled family situations to poor choices in relationships to students’ whose learning disabilities make it difficult for them to thrive academically.
What draws me to my work is the opportunity to introduce students to universal themes of struggle, courage, doubt, risk, and triumph that resonate with their personal experiences. Whether the work we study is classical or modern, students see their experiences reflected in the novels, plays, poetry and biographies we read.
My role is to select literature that reflects God’s truth – whether those themes are clearly or subtly expressed within the text – and equip students with analytical skills to understand their meaning. While I cannot control the brokenness students face, I believe God can bring healing and hope through encounters with great literature. Through my work as an English teacher, Christ is making all things new.
Joel Hughes – Web Developer
As a computer programmer, I see how technology encroaches on our lives every day. We design online experiences that encourage you to use apps and websites as much as possible – to the point where people are becoming inseparable from their devices.
The consequences of this technology are gradually emerging, from people struggling to sleep because of extended exposure to the blue light of a computer screen to social media causing discontentedness and isolation even though we’re more “connected” than ever before. When choosing a career, I pursued web development because I felt the user experience was being designed in ways that were not spiritually, mentally, or even physically healthy.
I often ask myself: Is there still time to change these damaging effects? How can I use my observations to help people understand the role technology plays in their lives?
I am developing an app that began as my Fellows project, that informs users how the apps they use have been designed to affect them. It informs you when endless scrolling screens cause you to linger on a site or when location tracking allows your phone to spy on your life. We need this awareness to recognize how and why our technology has become omnipresent in our lives.
By empowering users to understand the way they interact with sites like Facebook or Instagram, I hope to reform the way we interact with technology. And, Lord willing, remind us how to enjoy our lives and make meaningful connections with and without technology. Through my work as a computer programmer, Christ is making all things new.
Jeanne Oh Kim – Pediatrician
As a physician, I work in the confines of a broken medical system with sometimes few answers in relation to the infinitely complex human body. There is always new evidence to challenge previous practices. There is also pressure to see over 20 patients a day, which can pose a challenge to meet the true needs of my patients and families at times, especially, since we are in the middle of a mental health crisis, with patients experiencing anxiety, depression, and suicide at an all-time high. Families are also broken. Parents are extremely anxious and look to “the University of Google” and certain blood tests to provide answers, while often just feeding this anxiety.
I believe we are created with a mind, body, and spirit. Sometimes an illness just attacks the body like with an infection. However, disease or illness may be from brokenness in our mind or spirit, and it is challenging when families do not know that Jesus is the only way to true healing.
Each day, I pray for wisdom in how to bring the power and reality of the Kingdom into my exam rooms and that my patients and their families can experience Jesus through me. I pray that I can see them as He does, beautiful and loved by Him. By partnering with the Holy Spirit, I may pray in my head over a person, and when I feel led, I will ask patients if they would like me to pray with them and allow God to come and heal supernaturally, as only He can.
It is challenging work, but I feel honored to be able to serve God through my ministry to my patients and their families.
Through my work as a pediatrician, Christ is making all things new.
Alan Chan – Corporate Lawyer
In my work as in-house counsel for a large technology firm, I see the brokenness of business culture every day. Working a publicly-traded Fortune 500 company means the pressure to produce wealth and a significant return on investment drives every aspect of our business operations.
Our corporation is beholden to our sales numbers and the expectations of external shareholders. The consequences of missing one quarter’s expected returns can be far-reaching and powerful. As a result, short-term thinking keeps us from seeing the long-term impact of our actions. People, processes, and corporate culture fall by the wayside in pursuit of quarterly goals.
This has a dramatic effect on employees’ lives, especially our frontline sales people, who may feel they are only as valuable as their ability to grow the business. They live with the tension that if they don’t reach their quotas they’ll be let go.
Because I am a leader in the legal department I don’t control sales practices, but I do shape the dynamic our team creates within the company. We strive not to become a bottleneck when asked to review contracts and show compassion for the real pressures the sales teams face. We manage stress well within our department and show forbearance for those whose work we support. As a leader, I encourage my staff to practice Sabbath and fully use their vacation time, two habits that are unheard of among corporate lawyers.
Participating in the 5280 Fellowship has sharpened my understanding of how faith informs my work and equipped me to steward my leadership as my influence within the company grows. I cannot eliminate the pressures of corporate life, but trust God to make our company a healthier, more humane place. Through my work as a lawyer, Christ is making all things new.
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This post was published May 29, 2019
Jeff Haanen is a writer and entrepreneur. He founded Denver Institute for Faith & Work, a community of conveners, teachers and learners offering experiences and educational resources on the gospel, work, and community renewal. He is the author of An Uncommon Guide to Retirement: Finding God’s Purpose for the Next Season of Life and an upcoming two-book series on spiritual formation, vocation, and the working class for Intervarsity Press. He lives with his wife and four daughters in Denver and attends Wellspring Church in Englewood, Colorado.