ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
An emerging challenge among people of faith is to view their “secular” employment not as secular at all, but as an extension of God’s activity in the world. In other words, what do we on the job mirrors the “employment” God pursues in our world. By making that connection, “secular” work can become as sacred a calling as any ministry done within church walls.
For example, people employed in the medical field reflect the healing component of God’s character and endeavor. Farmers become partners with the God who provides daily bread and nourishment. Teachers emulate the God who bestows knowledge. Accountants reflect God’s penchant for order and balance.
So what “God tasks” do journalists perform in this world? To much a stretch, you say, to think that journalists could aspire to divine ambitions? Maybe. But in my own desire to bring unity to the “secular” and “spiritual” dimension of my life, I would suggest at least two “God tasks” that journalists pursue when they do their job as it should be done.
First, we pursue truth. God is truth and is the source of all that is true in our world. Above all else, a journalist should be about telling the truth, or at least seeking it. But truth, from a human perspective, is elusive. And journalists can’t be “objective” in a pure sense because each person is shaped by the peculiar experiences of our lives. But we can commit ourselves to be accurate (to get the facts right) and fair (to present all relevant sides). Somewhere in that process, we can come close to the truth-or at least lessen the chance for distortion.
The other “God task” of good journalism, as I see it, is to build community. That has been God’s work since he created the first humans-to bring people together and help them live productive, harmonious lives.
Journalists should have a similar goal. We report the difficult stories and issues, we tell the inspiring and ironic stories, we report on the exploits and charity of our neighbors and friends. And if our heart is right, we do it so the community we commit ourselves to can be stronger, more cohesive, more appreciative of each other. We can leave no greater legacy than to bring people together for good.
That’s our goal here. Some may see the task of journalism differently, but we chose to follow this path.