Finding a Calling – Guest post by Rafael Barahona

April 26, 2017

When your organization is one person, there is a lot of freedom, but there is also a lot on the line. Vision, direction, motivation, practices and sensibilities all rest on your own shoulders. It’s all you. So, how to find a way forward?

Three years ago, I never would have pictured myself an entrepreneur with a burgeoning business operating in a beautiful downtown Goshen studio space. In all honesty, before my business venture, my professional life resembled a pinball game, as I bounced around racking up experiential points, but lacking a clear (career) path forward.

Following my graduation from Goshen College, I served in Montreal with Mennonite Voluntary Services (MVS) for a year, toured the country as a musician, worked in education with English as a second language (ESL) students, was part of an artist community and microchurch, before eventually moving into marketing and communications with the University of Virginia.

A generation or two ago, someone might backpack through Europe to “find themselves.” In my process of doing so, I struggled with a couple of cultural notions that were becoming increasingly burdensome:

Pick a career

This idea is embedded from an early age, as we are asked what we want to be when we grow up all the way through school, college and “professional development” opportunities.  While it is no longer very common for individuals to work at one job for their entire career, there are certainly strong remnants of the expectation that we as individuals have one thing we are supposed to do with our lives.

Find a (religious) vocation

Another struggle that I had was a latent expectation that in order to properly live out my faith, I needed to find a vocation that was more overtly religious in nature. Simply stated, I needed to “work in the church.” While my parents never explicitly instructed me to do so, their lifelong roles as church leaders provided plenty of inherent pressure.

Multipotentialites

These two notions can be summarized as “finding my calling.” For many years, I yearned to know what it was, and found myself often wishing I was just good at one thing, and that one thing could provide the answer I was looking for.

Only recently have I learned about an alternative philosophy for people like myself, who enjoy doing many different kinds of things.  They are called multipotentialites.

Multipotentialites are defined as individuals with interest and capacity in many different areas or disciplines. They excel in idea synthesis (seeing and applying connections with different ideas), rapid learning (devouring a new topic or area of interest) and adaptability (being able to function effectively in a variety of circumstances). These characteristics have become crucial in my ability to effectively wear the many hats needed when running a business as a sole proprietor.

I have also come to terms that there are many ways and methods to do kingdom work both in a career and outside of your day job. Additionally, as I had bounced around from job to job for several years, there was work going on inside of me, helping me to understand who God created me to be and firmly establishing the divine nature that creativity plays in all of our lives.

Embracing ‘secondary’ skills

The final piece fell into place when my family and I moved from Charlottesville, Va., to Goshen, Ind., and I had the opportunity to more fully pursue the creative endeavors that for many years were a hobby, or secondary job skill I could list on a resume.

Unable to really find the kind of job I really wanted, and with plenty of encouragement of those nearest to me, I took the plunge and started my business. As I embarked on this new journey, I had to embrace another common mantra: don’t be afraid to fail.

More than the learning curve with setting up internal processes, time tracking, invoicing, taxes etc., I had to make some important decisions about how I wanted to run a business.  It was all new, so I did plenty of research and looked to other designers and business people for best practices and finding success. The sources ranged wildly on their philosophies, each promising a different definition of success.  Some emphasized the practical, others focused on how to find meaning and happiness with what you are doing.

I confess that I tried out several different things, and I still occasionally question myself as to whether there might be a better way to do something.  What has become clear to me, however, is who I want to be as a business owner. I want to keep learning and growing, but I also want to be intentional in viewing clients as people, not as numbers, each with their own unique story to tell.

I love that the design field allows me to keep exploring many different worlds. In any given week, I might be working in the food sector, or cosmetics, or in the education field, or entertainment, or a church or other non-profit.  I get to witness the work God is doing a variety of fields and in a variety of people.  With each new project, I have an opportunity to work at character, embracing my convictions and gifts, and treating others not just how I would like to be treated, but as unique children of God, each with their own gifts and story to tell.

Connect with Rafael:
Email / Website / Twitter / Instagram

Rafael is a board member for MennoMedia. In addition to running R3 Design, Rafael and his wife Elisabeth are raising their three young children, Isabela, Thiago and Ana Sofia. They currently live in Goshen, Ind., and are members of Berkey Avenue Mennonite Church.

This blog post appeared originally at The website ValuedLeadership.org, sponsored by MHS and developed for non-profit leaders and organizations to support them as they reflect on and integrate Anabaptist values and themes with organizational life.

Announcing Resonate: Worship and Song Committee Calls for Congregational Input

News Release

April 25, 2017

Announcing Resonate
Worship and Song Committee Calls for Congregational Input

HARRISONBURG, Va.—The Mennonite Worship and Song Committee invites congregations to appoint three leaders to give input toward a new hymnal to be released in 2020. Specifically, the committee wants to hear feedback from a pastor, a worship leader, and a music leader in each congregation.

“We want to hear what is giving life to worship across the denomination,” said Bradley Kauffman, project director. “It is essential to hear from these voices—people whose investment will deeply inform our work toward a successful collection.”

Postcards asking churches to appoint three people to complete this important survey were mailed to all congregations in Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA last month. The survey can be found at MennoMedia.org/Resonate. Laypersons are also welcome to offer suggestions through a “heart song” survey accessed at the same site.

In addition, MennoMedia has unveiled Resonate: Join the Everlasting Song as the Worship and Song Collection project’s brand. An actual title for the bound collection will be decided at a later point.

Resonate evokes a common experience across many approaches to worship,” said Kauffman. “It brings together the physical vibration of singing with the ways ideas resonate when we worship together.”

The Mennonite Worship and Song Committee is working toward a 2020 release of a new hymnal to be published by MennoMedia in cooperation with Mennonite Church Canada and Mennonite Church USA. Currently, the committee is engaged in a period of intentional listening, discerning what to preserve from past collections, receiving submissions of new and original content, and considering what thematic areas might need more coverage in a 21st-century collection. To submit content for consideration, visit http://mennoniteworshipandsongcollection.org/.

For more information or to schedule an interview, contact LeAnn Hamby at (540) 908-3941 or email LeAnnH@mennomedia.org.

An Unblinking Look at Midlife

News Release
April 12, 2017

An Unblinking Look at Midlife 

Veteran columnist explores the indignities and perks of midlife in When Did Everybody Else Get So Old?

HARRISONBURG, Va.—The questions of midlife are quieter and deeper than clichés involving motorcycles and illicit affairs suggest. Who have I become? Is this all there is to life? Why does God feel so distant at this
point of my life?
Or, to quote musician Paul Simon, “Why am I soft in the middle? The rest of my life is so hard.”

Author and veteran columnist Jennifer Grant takes an unblinking—and often humorous—look at the transitions of midlife in When Did Everybody Else Get So Old? Indignities, Compromises, and the Unexpected Grace of Midlife (Herald Press, May 2017).

From the emptying nest to the sagging effects of aging, Grant acknowledges the complexities and loss inherent in midlife. As she leads readers through the events of her 40s, stories of loss and crushing identity and faith crises are followed by chapters marked by acceptance and gratitude as she finally gets her footing in midlife.

“I started my forties looking too often into the mirror and getting tangled up in my thoughts—my goals, my shifting identity, my disappointments, my hopes,” Grant says. “As I leave this decade behind, I find myself focusing less on me and more on how I might, bit by incremental bit, help to make the world more whole.”

As Grant addresses issues like hormonal swings and a teenager’s scorn, Grant’s middle-aged readers will recognize themselves in the pages. More than just a memoir, When Did Everybody Else Get So Old? encourages readers to live fully and embrace this stage of life. Author Jon Sweeney calls the book a “necessary, awakening memoir,” and journalist and religion writer Cathleen Falsani writes, “What I didn’t expect was to have my breath taken away, torrents of tears followed—sometimes on the same page—by uncontrollable belly laughs.”

Dorcas Cheng-Tozun, author of Start, Love, Repeat, notes, “This memoir, unexpectedly, helped me look forward to experiencing my forties and fifties.”

Of her own middle years, Grant notes that she and her husband will be empty nesters in four short years. “Our two daughters will be gone, grown, off discovering the people and purposes that will shape their adult lives,” Grant describes. “As much as my heart will strain sometimes, and feel as if it just might tear apart with missing my children, this is all as it should be.”

Jennifer Grant is a writer, editor, and speaker. A former health and family columnist for the Chicago Tribune, she is the author of four previous books, including the adoption memoir Love You More. Her work has also been published at websites such as Aleteia/For Her and on the Sojourner magazine blog God’s Politics. Grant is a longtime member of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, and lives in Wheaton with her husband, four children, and two rescue dogs. Find her online at jennifergrant.com or on Twitter @jennifercgrant.

When Did Everybody Else Get So Old? is $16.99 and available at Amazon and other retailers as well as from Herald Press at 800-245-7894. The book is to be released May 2, 2017.

To schedule an interview with Jennifer Grant, contact LeAnn Hamby at (540) 908‑3941 or LeAnnH@mennomedia.org.

MennoMedia Staff
High-resolution photos available