Years ago, I heard Jerry Ballard, the head of World Relief, talk about taking Charleton Heston with him on a tour of some of their mission relief work in other countries. He said Heston was impressed with the World Relief workers. Heston told Ballard, “They are committed, and they are competent.” To an extent, Heston was surprised that they were competent. If they were truly competent, wouldn’t they be doing something… meaningful? Like advancing up a corporate ladder, promoting and selling some banal product for excess-addicted consumers? Instead, these competent people were laboring away in a situation devoid of recognition and economic reward.
It’s interesting how, in some people’s eyes, working in the church world sucks out the credibility of your competencies.
I’ve been a writer, editor, and graphic designer for nearly 30 years. A web designer for ten years. Been doing these things professionally. And I’m a student of my crafts; I don’t just run on intuition, but study the techniques and theories of written and visual communication. It’s part of being a professional.
And yet, throughout my career, I’ve encountered people–both within and outside the church universe–who assume that I’m less skilled than someone who does the same things in the corporate world. If I had worked a few years for an ad agency or a PR firm, or in some other corporate capacity, I might be artificially elevated in people’s eyes. “Steve’s good at what he does. He used to work for an ad agency.” If I had a smidgen of “corporate communications” on my resume, no matter how minor, it would do wonders for my professional credibility.
But no, I’ve always worked in church communications. Therefore, my skills must be sub-professional. We need to draw our sense of identity from God, not from the views of others. But sometimes I just want to tell people, “Hey, I’m really good at what I do.” And, in fact, I just did. I’m afraid that I inhabit a Rodney Dangerfield world besmitten with the paranoia of Joe McCarthy and the insecurities of George Castanza.Leave a comment