Some vocations allow you to clearly see how God uses your work for his glory. A surgeon saves lives. A teacher prepares children for a lifetime of learning. A construction worker builds homes that provide shelter from the weather.
In other vocations, the connection seems less clear. What if your work involves typing words on a screen? What if you spend most of your working hours in an office, scribbling on a notepad or moving words around in sentences?
Lauren Pratt is the News and Information Specialist at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and many of her days involve such tasks. Recently, we had a chance to chat with Lauren about writing. In our conversation, you’ll see how God can use her work for his glory — and how he can use yours, too. Here’s our conversation.
What does a writer do?
There are so many different routes you can take as writer, but the writing I do for Southeastern takes on a marketing approach. I primarily write press releases for the school as well as tell stories of how God is working in and through our alumni and students, which we call Acts 1:8 Stories.
My stories don’t just end up on a screen. I often start the writing process by putting on paper the main chunks of information I think will be best in the story. Then I go back and edit it to make it a story that flows and tells a narrative. But usually, most of my work goes into getting that initial information onto paper so that I can start the rest of the writing process.
Whether it’s an Intersect article, an Acts 1:8 Story or a news release, those types of stories involve (some of, if not all) gathering information, interviewing sources, writing, editing and having others edit your story. At times, it can be a tedious process, but it’s fun to see the finished product.
How did you become interested in writing?
I’ve enjoyed writing since I was in 7th grade, but it wasn’t until my sophomore year of high school that I realized journalism was more in my wheelhouse than fictional writing. I realized I could write stories about real events and real people rather than try to create them. So that’s exactly what I did. I went to college and majored in journalism.
Throughout college, I became increasingly aware that mainstream journalism would drain me more than fuel me as a full-time career. It was during my senior year in college that the Lord showed me the type of writing I was passionate about. I had taken a class where I had to tailor all of my stories to one magazine so I chose Relevant Magazine. Through that, the Lord showed me the fulfillment I had in writing stories that addressed struggles Christians encountered in their faith as well as writing that mobilized churches to give and go everywhere with the gospel.
How does your faith inform your craft? How does your work give glory to God?
I’m telling stories of students who are serving the Lord all over the world, so in that sense faith very clearly influences my work. But even in some of the other content I write, whether ads or press releases, I seek to remember the bottom line: I want to be a part of mobilizing and encouraging students to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission.
I also want to pursue excellence in my writing. I think with writing, along with other forms of Christian communication and media, it’s important to remain relevant in how you present your work. The world shouldn’t look at your platform (writing, photography, graphics, etc.) and think, “Wow, it kind of seems like they’re two steps behind everybody else.” So I really hope that my work honors Christ in its excellence.
If I find that I’m not doing well, I need to ask myself if it’s due to lack of knowledge or whether I’ve just been lazy. I’ve definitely had moments in life (whether in school or other writing jobs) where I have had to look inward and say, “Yeah, I definitely didn’t fact check that enough or spell check that thoroughly.” And that’s just straight up laziness, which is ultimately a heart problem. So bottom line: Working with excellence in any context is SO key in how faith intersects work.
How would you encourage others who don’t see how their faith informs their work?
As a whole, I think it’s less about what the job is and more about how you do the job. I worked in food service for nearly six years as a cashier, including a couple years after college. Throughout that time, the Lord gave me a platform to have intentional friendships with my coworkers as well as the ability to work hard and have a good attitude in the midst of stressful shifts. As Christians, we work with a different motivation because we know the Lord.
Maybe you have coworkers who work just as hard with the same great attitude, but they do not know Jesus. What then? How are you different than them? Hopefully, it’s because you are motivated because of your relationship with the Lord and you desire to please him rather than to please humans.
That’s a tough thing to grapple with. I am such a people-pleaser by nature and so I have to check my heart as to why I am working hard. Do I remain that way even when the work environment is different around me? Do I pray for opportunities to talk about my faith inside and outside of the workplace? I think these are all helpful things to consider, especially when you work in an environment where you may be one of the few Christians there.