By Cathy Luchetti
We all want to bring God more into everyday life, and most of everyday life is the workplace. How to do this? One is outreach, but often the mention of religion is discouraged–even banned. But the work itself can also be a vocation, and to work ethically and faithfully honors God. Every profession has its own story and every member of SCC has a story to tell. To see one person’s path of faith is to encourage us all.
“In the social services, we see so many tragedies. But I can draw hope from God.”
Judy K., a bilingual mental health practitioner for the Mental Health and Substance Use Services, Health & Human Services, County of Marin, knows about tragedy. She screens and assesses adults and children with mental illnesses for medication support and therapy. She directs them into case management services available through the County of Marin and funded by Medi-Cal. Daily, she sees disorder and damage, with children bearing the brunt.
This is a workplace that calls for faith. As Judy says, “ I draw compassion from my faith. Faith gives me hope and perseverance in standing by clients who struggle to free themselves from their long-owned darkness.” Faith is Judy’s secret weapon. Where her colleagues might retract a helping hand a bit sooner, she calls on faith and extends her work with difficult cases.
As to the agency’s policy about religion, employees at Marin Mental Health do not criticize individual beliefs. But it’s a given that faith and belief are not workplace subjects, although sometimes the subject does arise.
“I’m a Christian,” Judy speaks up.
But usually only when she hears a workplace comment about Christians, and it’s one she with which she disagrees. “That’s not my practice or belief,” she points out, and the fact that people seem surprised or embarrassed gives her an opportunity to talk about her faith. In her workplace of 30 employees, there are no other Christians.
Other “talking points” for faith include bringing church into “what did you do this weekend” conversations, commonly held during lunch and breaks. When she tells coworkers about going to church on Sunday, there’s usually surprise, followed by the question, “What church?” Judy uses this as a chance to invite them to come along. So far, only one has come.
Judy finds support in daily prayer, which guides and sustains. She tries to be helpful and often brings in food. Simple ministry, always welcome, is the root of gospel behavior. The work itself, by definition, is a secular ministry, offering counsel, support, routes to medical, mental and pharmacological care to suffering families. By her stable and ethical work, Judy offers the precepts of Christ to both clients and coworkers.
Another ministry example stands out. A troubled family came in with children. They were Christians. Judy let them know that she was a Christian too. Officially, she couldn’t pray with them so she would pray for them. As she recounts: “We left with a peaceful feeling of God’s presence.” ©