Note: – This post is part of a 6 week series focused on faith and work; more specifically, how our faith affects the way we work and how we view our work. I thought there would be no better way to explore this topic than by asking members of Calvary about their experience. So, today is the first of these conversations. I have conducted and condensed these interviews, while doing my best not to put my words into the mouths of others.
Beverly Harmon has been the Office Administrator at Calvary Lutheran Church since 1998. Previous to that she worked for the American Hospital Association (AHA) in Washington, D.C. for 25 years. She ended her time there as a Staff Specialist where she worked closely with the president and other executive officers and traveled regularly for work throughout the United States. Bev was trained as a teacher and taught in the public school system for 5 years before starting at the AHA.
How Has Your Faith Influenced Your Career Track?
As the daughter and granddaughter of Lutheran Ministers I have carried my faith with me my whole life. I chose teaching early on because of an interest in history and a desire to show the importance and lessons of history to young people. However, as my family life changed in the years after college years, I found that when I was teaching I was spending more time with other people’s children than my own. I believe my faith was telling me that my family was of first importance. Additionally, my husband was in the army and we were moving around the country for a number of years which created job uncertainty. When we finally ended up in DC, I began looking for another line of work that might offer a more regular work-week and 9-5 predictability so that I could spend time with the family. A low level position was open at the American Hospital Association, so I took it.
How has your Faith Influenced Your View of Work?
In my time with the AHA, as my job description changed numerous times, my faith helped me keep perspective on how I worked and how I viewed those around me. One of the first lessons I learned as a kid was not to be judgmental. So no matter who I was working for or alongside of, I was able to continue to do my job in a positive and respectful way. I have always felt that the way I treat other people is reflective of my faith and my beliefs.
Later on, as the kids were getting older, I began taking on more responsibility with the AHA and traveled much more often for work. My faith influenced my work very much at this time. As I began working longer hours again, I truly felt that doing the best job I possibly could and representing my employer well was a reflection of what I believe. Doing less than what I was hired to do would be cheating and not representative of who I am and who I believe my God to be.
Has Working in a Church Been Different?
I really view my work over the last 16 years in the office at Calvary as a calling given by God – and I don’t say that lightly. When I first started, I was at a point in my life where I could have easily retired. But through prayer and soul-searching I truly felt that God wanted me to use my time and abilities working rather than anything else. While I would have done whatever God asked me to at that point, I am thankful He didn’t call me to move away from family and grandchildren, but instead prodded me to look at what was right in front of me – my church. At the time I didn’t even know a job was available, but felt a prodding to ask several church leaders and Pastor Larry. Sure enough they were looking for an Office Administrator.
I never expected to be working in a church office and never thought church work was part of what God had in mind for me. But, because of the strong sense of calling, the time I have had working alongside the people and the pastors at Calvary has truly been a blessing. The constant engagement of my faith and the theological conversations that take place in a church office have been an incredible experience. It keeps my faith in front of me on a daily basis, and I have found that the more I learn about my faith, the more I want to know, so I have continued to study and learn and read over the years. I know I have so much more to learn.
Through my entire career and various job experiences I have been blessed in many ways. I have really loved every job I have had and have enjoyed the feelings of productivity and accomplishment. Whether it was the more mundane jobs I did early in my time at the AHA, or later, traveling around the country for work, I feel my faith has helped me keep perspective and I have seen my work as an opportunity to serve God and represent Him well.