Kelly Leadbetter is a 5280 Fellow in the 2017-2018 session and works as an urban planner with Felsburg Holt & Ullevig, a consulting firm that specializes in city transportation and infrastructure projects. She spoke with Denver Institute Executive Director Jeff Haanen about her experience in the 5280 Fellowship and the program’s impact on her personal faith and daily work.
DIFW: Why did you choose to be a part of the 5280 Fellowship?
My friend Christiana Ferrell made me aware of the program. We attended grad school together and have continued to learn alongside one another in church and in our industry. The Fellows program deeply impacted her work as a city planner and her life as a whole, and she wanted to share that excitement with me.
DIFW: What have you learned in the program so far?
I have developed an understanding that work is a call from God, and that God called us to work early in Genesis, even before the fall. The idea that God has a big purpose for work is something that I subconsciously knew, but the 5280 Fellowship has helped me take ownership of that and put words to that for my own career.
In addition, I see my work differently. When I look at city planning and transportation projects, I see the built environment that God called us to cultivate. For me, there is a very direct connection between the projects we do and the kingdom of God. Our projects aim to improve the quality of life for the residents of the city we’re working in, but by what standard? When that standard comes from God, he sets the benchmark for what I do.
DIFW: How has the 5280 Fellowship influenced your faith?
It has been very sobering to think about every aspect of my life as being unto Christ. We are constantly talking about how excited God can be about our work and how God wants to be in our work, and that’s pervasive.That idea forces me not to compartmentalize my life. I now understand that my personal formation, professional development and understanding of God work together.
DIFW: How has the 5280 Fellowship impacted your day-to-day work?
There’s something very sobering about the thought that I have a role in bringing elements of the kingdom physically to Denver. Through the projects we do and the improvements we make to our community, people can experience Jesus and experience the kingdom in a tangible way. That comes with a lot of responsibility. I feel like I have more responsibility now as I learn about God’s perfect kingdom and that small but big role that I’m playing in it.
DIFW: What will you pursue for your professional project in the fellowship?
As a consulting firm, we’re very focused on constantly securing the next project and the next opportunity. I hope to implement a process for us to reflect at the end of projects — to celebrate successes, see lessons learned, and document how we can adapt moving forward.
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.