Graduating from uni and starting full-time work is a pretty big change. There are great things about both stages of life and there are challenges as well. I really enjoyed my time at uni, learning heaps, spending lots of time with friends and being involved in Uni Fellowship. Starting work as a nurse was a huge change. It was great to be able to use what I’d learnt over the course of my degree, but there was still a considerable amount for me to learn, especially as I was in theatre which requires a very different set of skills to general nursing. I loved the challenge though and really enjoyed all that I was learning, as well as working with a team of people. One of the challenges to working full time is having a lot less disposable time. I found myself with much less time to spend with friends and family and it took more effort to be actively involved in faith and ministry during the week.
Seeking to be a ‘real’ Christian at any stage of life is a challenge. To be someone who follows Christ, in thought, word and deed is always a struggle. We have to fight against our culture and our desire to be accepted by it, the distractions and desires of everyday life and our own sinful nature. This is the case whether studying or working, but I think entering full-time work in a secular workplace made this more obvious to me. At school and even studying at university it was very easy for me to remain surrounded in a ‘Christian bubble’ with close Christian friends, a church community and Uni Fellowship. Upon entering the workforce however, I was suddenly spending most of every day, for most of the week with a large variety of people, nearly all of whom are not Christians. This has challenged me to see how being a Christian makes my life different to the people that I work with, and to not be afraid of being different because of following Jesus. It has made belonging to and being involved in my local church vital.
Being committed to a church where I could hear the gospel, participate in Christian fellowship and be inspired for mission became really important to me when the rest of my life was no longer saturated with ‘Christian-ness’. It made me realise the importance of having Christian community to be refreshed and inspired by, to go back out into my workplace living for Christ. I was part of a church-plant, Vine Christian Church, about 10 months after starting work. This meant getting more involved with church than I had ever done before, and doing life with a small bunch of people passionate about starting a new church to reach more people with the gospel. This brought the many highs and lows of vision setting, maintaining momentum and close community that come with church planting. It has helped me to grow in many ways, and to be more passionate about living out and sharing the gospel with the people I work with.
I still find it a challenge to be really open about my faith at work. I still have to work at even mentioning I’m a Christian sometimes, let alone sharing what that means for my life, and there are plenty of times I’ve missed opportunities to bring it up. It does get easier though, the more I do it and I’ve found most of the people are pretty happy to talk about faith and religion, as long as it remains abstract. I’ve had a few really good conversations about some pretty big topics, though there’s always more I wish I could have said. I work with a pretty large team of people, with lots of comings and goings, so getting to know people well can be hard. I’m still working on developing friendships that are deep enough for me to be able to share the gospel meaningfully. With all the different people I work with and look after I see such a huge need for them to hear the gospel, and I know part of that is the task God has given me. So while it is hard to be a Christian in the workplace, and to seek to share the gospel with those around me, there really is no better challenge.
- Maddy Swart graduated with a Bachelor or Nursing in 2011.