TV shows like “Suits” and “The Office” often portray an American workplace rife with the toxic schadenfreude of everyday office politics. Thankfully, some stereotypes are meant to be broken. In my application to 2100 Productions, I expressed a desire for “a work environment that nurtures growth in character and intellect.” One week in, the office culture at the InterVarsity National Service Center (NSC) has already completely exceeded my expectations! At every level, the staff consistently model a culture of generosity, humility, and rest…and it is beautiful.
Office culture starts at the top, and it was a privilege to observe the farewell ceremony for InterVarsity’s departing president. While I don’t know Alec Hill or his wife Mary, I feel like I do now. People shared stories that painted an inspiring portrait of true servant-leadership. Humble, teachable, approachable – the testimonies to Alec’s open-hearted spirit moved me to tears by the end. Serenely, Alec exhorted us to always dedicate quiet time to God, treasure relationships, and “look for the redemptive purposes of God amidst pain.” While I really wish I could’ve interned under his Christlike leadership, his character lives on in the ethos of the NSC community.
Humility: Every Wednesday morning, the NSC staff come together for Chapel, a time of musical worship and Scripture. During our first Chapel in the new NSC building, we “raised an Ebenezer” together, creating an artistic display of glass stones that reflect the ways in which God has been with each of us. Ebenezer means “stone of help” and comes from 1 Samuel 7, when Samuel sets up a monumental stone after experiencing God’s provision, saying “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” It was really special to see the scripture come alive through this collective expression of gratitude to God for the new space!
Teachability: The communications team (video, graphic design, editorial) comes together every Monday morning for Manuscript Bible Study, an inductive way of reading Scripture in community. The head of comms started off our first meeting, saying, “We examine the Bible together because it is the prime example of communication that has transcended all time. It is the living Word from the Author of all communications and stories.” I came here because I want to connect my craft with my faith – what better way than to consult the Bible for guidance and inspiration?
Approachability: I’ve realized that I am not afraid to start conversations with IV leadership; after all, they treat us all like family! Alec hugged us individually on his last day, and a certain vice-president “video-bombed” one of our intern shoots (shoutout to my Duke fam at the NSC!). The original founder of 2100 Productions ate lunch with me and shared amazing stories from his travels…including his undying love for durian (“Durian is like the Gospel: to one, it is the stench of death; to the other, an aroma that brings life”). Our peer mentors have treated us to lunch, and our production mentor (affectionately dubbed “Coach”) sits on the floor with a magical whiteboard to cogently share the wonders of optics with us. Before exchanging any formal introductions, staff have even invited me to provide feedback on their projects and sing on the musical worship team. From what I can tell, generosity is the convention here!
Rest: There are lots of couches. A quiet room named “Shalom.” Wombat Wisdom Fridays (aka, exchange inspiring videos over lunch). Free bubbles and Boggle. An indoor basketball arcade. And invitations to eat all-you-can-eat homemade pho, join a teammate’s family on a gorgeous weekend hike to Devil’s Lake, watch Pitch Perfect 2 after work, and hit up Buffalo Wild Wings for the Warriors game!! My mind, body, and soul are loving the holistic rest this community brings.
Obviously, these are my first impressions. I’m just over a week in, and especially in a time of transition to a new space with changing leadership, the office culture is evolving. Yet these glimpses of a harmonious body working towards a shared vision give me a lot of hope. I feel valued and known by my colleagues, but I also feel like a fish swept up in a tide of love that’s much larger than myself. Indeed, “no one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us” (1 John 4:12).
Looking ahead to my second weekend…
- Wrapping up production and rough cuts of the introduction videos for all the 2100 interns. I’ll share them when they’re live next week!
- This weekend is the annual Pulse Arts Conference at Blackhawk Church. Beyond, beyond excited. I’ve signed up for workshops about photography as a spiritual discipline, songwriting and arranging (led by John Arndt and David Gungor of The Brilliance!!), and visual literacy in the church. The conference tagline is “PULSE: connecting arts to the heart of God.” It couldn’t be more perfect, really!