As a follow-up to our God@Work sermon from the It Matters series, we’d like to share some stories of those in our community who have experienced what it means to live out their faith in the workplace. This story is a part of a larger series written by Jackson Crum and Patrick Hurley. Let’s start with Tracy.
Generally speaking, most leaders are both goal-oriented and performance-driven or people first and person-centered. Tracy Scott is both. She is as kinetic as she is kind. She climbs career mountains as she considers the feelings of others.
Altruism, def. “Unselfish concern for the welfare of others; selflessness.”
There is a reason for Tracy’s love for people.
A little background here. Growing up, Tracy and her family lived a, “Keeping up with the Joneses” philosophy. Simply put, the parents wanted to be the best in the neighborhood. It applied to their religious practice as well.
This dialogue between Tracy and her mother typified this vapid existence.
“Mom, why are we going to church?”
“Because church is good for the community.”
Needless to say at that point in Tracy’s little girl life her parents and family were not Christians. They were just good for the community. Then, when Tracy was eight years old, her youngest sister was born. Her name was Kristen. It should have been, “Kaboom!” When that little baby came into the world, she blew up the image of the family that wanted to always look good for the community and scattered it to the four winds.
“My sister was born with cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder that may or may not be extremely debilitating for the remainder of one’s life. It is not predictable, so we had no idea how badly it would affect Kristen. All we knew was that her entire right side was completely paralyzed and that she most likely would never walk or talk.”
Tracy explained further, “It changed my parent’s life. They suddenly asked, ‘Where is God in all this?’ Facing the reality of a child with disabilities sent them on a spiritual quest that ended with them both becoming Christians.”
Kristen was a miracle baby. God immediately began using her life to turn Tracy and her family around for Him. Their first thought was that this little girl was going to be helpless and physically needy. Big sister Tracy stepped up and took care of her sibling. That unselfishness opened her heart from which God’s agape love began to pour out of her.
No one thought Kristen was going to be healthy and fiercely independent for the rest of her life.
They couldn’t have been more wrong.
Through miracle after miracle, and lots of love, the Holy Spirit outshone everyone’s expectations.
Today, Kristen talks, walks, confronts challenges and is a successful accountant for a national corporation in the Chicago area. When she tells people her personal story, they are stunned. God used her to set in motion a family spirituality that had been seriously lacking up to that point.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2 (ESV)
The name Kristen means, Follower of Christ. “It’s providential that the miracles presented to us through Kristen led both of my parents, and eventually me, to follow Jesus.”
Tracy’s dad had been highly accomplished, a trait she inherited from him. He grew up in a Christian home, had been an Eagle Scout, a Top Gun in the Navy, had attended an Ivy League college and held a Masters Degree from Harvard.
But, he had walked away from his faith. Now that he had recommitted his life to Christ, he was worried that Tracy would spiritually fall apart like he had done in college. So, he made a move to ensure that wouldn’t easily happen to her.
“My parents wanted to send me away to a Christian camp in Colorado just before I went off to college. It was designed for college students to be challenged in their Christian worldview. I didn’t want to go.”
“Not so fast,” said her dad.
“Normally, my parents are easy going but not this time, ‘YOU ARE GOING!’ they assured me. So, I went. It was the first time I experienced the concept of Christian community. It was also the first time my faith really began to grow deeper. It was awesome. I came home fired up for Jesus Christ. Then, my faith took a bit of a hit…”
The jolt she referred to was Santa Clara University. Tracy thought her faith would be strengthened by her college choice, but instead she found herself in theology courses where scripture was torn apart and biblical miracles were explained away.
She had been blindsided. It was not what Tracy had expected when she signed on there for college.
“I got involved in an InterVarsity bible study and hung on for dear life,” she laughed. Another professor told me, ‘We don’t encourage InterVarsity because they are not tolerant.’
This same professor pulled off her sweatshirt and revealed two men having sex on her t-shirt in class.
Tracy shook her head, “I had nothing against differences in doctrine but, I didn’t want these issues shoved in my face. The hypocrisy of my instructors proclaiming tolerance but silencing me from talking about a campus bible study was infuriating. It was time for me to leave Santa Clara.”
This was not easy for Tracy since she had several scholarships there. But, her life with Jesus was more important to her. As the scripture said,
“O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. Grace be with you.” I Timothy 6:20-21 (ESV)
In 1994, after taking a year off from college to work and research scholarships, Tracy enrolled at Wheaton College in a suburb near Chicago. “It was absolutely amazing to be at a school where people wanted to learn about Jesus, rather than punch holes in Scripture.”
While there she was astounded at the attitude of many of her classmates towards the Christian chapels that were mandatory attendance for the student body.
“My contemporaries were griping about having to go to chapel. I couldn’t believe it! This was Wheaton College. This school brought in the greatest Christian speakers in the world! It was wonderful.”
She shook her head in amazement, “Coming from my experience at Santa Clara, it was hard for me not to get sassy with fellow students who didn’t grasp how amazing the culture was.”
Painfully shy growing up, Tracy confronted her reserved nature and majored in Communication. Furthermore, she took a series of five classes on, “Interpersonal Communication.”
She was not going to let her reserved nature win. “That course changed my life,” Tracy admits today.
Did it ever.
Two years later, her first job interview was to host a television show for a Christian station. While she ended up taking a job writing and producing, the shy girl had not only overcome her private side, she had obliterated it.
So began several years in the television industry.
Welcome to Outgoing Tracy.
She worked at Channel 38 in Chicago, later wrote and produced for the Discovery Channel and then the A&E Network and then she left to begin consulting with non-profits in communications and fundraising.
“I was not fulfilled just producing and hosting for secular television. I wanted to be a Christian spokesperson and help people do more meaningful work.”
Tracy found her niche in fundraising, helping Christian organizations make millions of dollars to finance their ministries in order to reach people with the gospel.
Despite her ability to meet goals and achieve heights, Tracy always remembered something a woman at one of her secular television jobs said to her, “YOU are a Christian?” the woman asked in disbelief. “But you’re so NICE.’ This floored me. Why was this so surprising to a non-believer? Being nice should be SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) for those of us who follow Jesus.”
Thus was cemented forever, Tracy the businesswoman with goals and Tracy the Lord’s lover with compassion. Simultaneously.
Her story of how she came to Park Community Church not only blessed her and her husband but their future pastor, as well.
“We’d been attending Park for about five years when I produced a video about our church to send out to potential men who would be interested in becoming our new pastor. One of them, Jackson Crum, loved the fact that we lived in the crazy culture of Chicago, accepted diversity, baptized people in the lake and were willing to grow creatively. He signed on to lead us. When we met he smiled at me, ‘You’re one of the people who made that video weren’t you?’ I smiled back.’ So cool.”
Then came the apex of her influence on the world, both Christian and not.
Tracy tells the story, “I was meeting with one of my bosses who was in a high position of influence in fundraising. We were discussing the problem many of our fundraising clients were having when it came to donations versus just getting people’s money. We both wanted to recognize that it is God who truly owns all the money out there and He is at the core of the all this activity. So, we forged a new model on how fundraising should be more about people and less about money. Ultimately, people will give because they feel loved and connected to a meaningful effort, not because they are an ATM machine.”
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3-4 (ESV)
It made a major difference right away in the fundraising results of their clientele.
Goals were reached and people were served.
Tracy had taken her beliefs, personality and twin passions to her career and the outcome was stunningly successful.
“My struggle in my early career was integrating my faith into it. I don’t want to sound flippant but every job should be a reflection of how we live out the gospel at work. It’s not an easy task. How can fund-raising (something so many people despise) glorify God?
Or, to put it in God’s words,
“O LORD, You are my God; I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name; For You have worked wonders, Plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness.” (NAS)