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Finding purpose and vocation in the work that we're called to

I know God is using public leaders to transform lives, says Zoë Down

Zoë Down works for national education charity, IntoUniversity, which aims to inspire children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to achieve through a network of learning centres delivering high-quality, aspiration-raising programmes with 7 – 18 year olds. Zoë is based in the North Liverpool learning centre, which partners with eight schools, the University of Liverpool, and the Liverpool FC Foundation to pursue this vision.

In November 2018, I took part in the SENT course with a group from my church, St James in the City. Through the teaching, readings and discussion, I was reminded of a couple of key truths that have helped me to approach my work differently. Firstly, that we have a faithful God who loves to hear our prayers, and secondly, that as a Christian, I carry the presence of Jesus wherever I go.

God loves to hear our prayers

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Since doing the SENT course, I have begun to pray for my workplace, sometimes using the words of Psalm 122: Pray for the well-being of Jerusalem [the Anfield Business Centre, where I work]. May those who love you be secure. May there be peace within your walls, security within your fortresses.”

Before a full-day year 7 workshop for, I prayed for three boys I knew would be attending, all of whom have been bereaved of either one or both parents. I asked God to cover them under His wings as a father, and prayed that as they entered our building they would feel safe, at peace and secure. 

That day, all three boys behaved brilliantly, engaged with the activities, and were publicly recognised by the whole staff team and their head of year, who was present for the duration of the workshop. 

In a conversation with the head of year, she spoke warmly of how much she cares for them, has a soft spot for them, and wants to see them succeed. Her year group comprises more than 250 students. I believe God was looking out for these three boys as the Father to the fatherless we read about in the Bible.

I carry the presence of Jesus wherever I go

Jesus is the light of the world and the Prince of peace. This means that I represent Jesus to my colleagues, our students, volunteers, school staff and other stakeholders. It is a serious responsibility. 

Celia Apeagyei-Collins’ talk helped me to examine how Christian leadership differs from secular ideas of leadership. I found her insights particularly helpful, namely that character, integrity and humble service ought to characterise my leadership in the workplace. It is not always easy to operate like this, but with God’s help I can work with enthusiasm, as though […] working for the Lord rather than for people” (Ephesians 6:7).

A few years ago, a seminar speaker from Tearfund showed me a line graph with spiritual passion’ on one axis and professional excellence’ on the other. As a Christian in the workplace, the ideal place to be is at the top right of the graph, with spiritual passion and professional excellence in equal measure.

Taking part in the SENT course helped me to see my work with fresh eyes, to renew my passion for Jesus, and to refocus my sense of purpose and vocation in the work He has called me to do.

The SENT course is for churches to help public leaders like Zoë see their workplaces and communities transformed in Jesus’ name. Explore the course and download free sample.

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