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The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

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Because of LICC | Chanelle Leher: Civil Servant of the Lord

Four ordinary Christians share their transformative experiences with LICC – and how God’s working through them today.

A civil servant in the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy, Chanelle attended our ReWork day conference and then Emerging Leaders in 2019.

‘What I found really refreshing was the idea of seeing work not as something outside your Christian life, but as an integral part of it. In church it can sometimes feel as though non-church work is just a way to make money you can give, or an opportunity to evangelise. Those are both good things, and intellectually I know that’s not the only value of work and God places you in a workplace for a purpose. But it can feel like giving and evangelism are all that matters.

‘It was refreshing to meet Christians who do see their work through a wider whole-life lens and have seen a really positive impact in and through it – particularly people in a similar stage of their career. I know God’s given me a set of gifts and placed me in a particular place, and I want to know how I can worship him there.

‘For example, I was new to management when I joined Emerging Leaders, and I wanted to know how to do that as a Christian. There are lots of training courses and self-help books out there, but so often it’s “how to get ahead” rather than “how to do a good job”. LICC helped me explore a theology of work as worship and service, not just self-enrichment or meaningless toil.’

As Head of Performance and Benefits for an energy efficiency scheme, Chanelle administers grants to improve energy efficiency in social housing – helping people stay warmer while reducing their energy costs and carbon footprint. The value of that work is obvious, but Chanelle also sees God at work in other ways.

‘One of the things I learnt from Emerging Leaders was the importance of moulding culture. The project I’m in is very big, and you could argue I have a limited role because I’m not deciding the policy. But I have the scope to shape the way things are done in my team, and where we focus our attention. Before Emerging Leaders, I hadn’t considered how the gospel fits into things like that. But now, when I’m setting our objectives, I pray about them. Because I have the chance to say, “We’re going to focus on impacting households, not ticking boxes.”

‘Will we redirect money towards improving one home’s efficiency to a really high level, or will we maintain the number of homes we’re already treating so we maximise the number of people we’re benefiting? Seeing my job as part of my discipleship has changed how I frame that portfolio of work. It’s more focused on people. Because God cares about them and I should too.’

That change of perspective has also helped Chanelle be there for colleagues struggling with stress – because she’s not so consumed by it herself.

‘I work in a pressured environment, and it can feel like everyone wants something from you, like you’re not good enough unless you meet this person’s standards or that deadline or deliver this quality of work. It can be quite draining. Understanding that God is in control of those situations and that my work doesn’t define me, that I’ve not failed if I don’t meet that thing, is quite freeing. It means I can have a peace with work – not that I always get that right!

‘For example, when I first started this job, there was a massive project to deliver, getting lots of local authorities to sign a particular set of documents. I’d never worked with them before, so it was quite hard, and lots of people were relying on that piece of work. I went through that situation with this perspective in mind. I was stressed, but I think I knew that the stress didn’t make me a failure.

‘Afterwards people told me, “You seem unflappable” – which isn’t true, but what they were seeing was that it didn’t make me question myself, because I knew God was in it with me. I felt like I could be a real blessing to my colleagues and people I was working with because I wasn’t having an existential crisis about work.’

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