What You Do, Not Who You Are: Ora Et Labora with Samantha Sleeman

Samantha (Jansma) Sleeman knows how tempting it can be to base your identity in your career.

Speaking to members of the Kuyper community gathered in the Vos Chapel on March 21 for Ora Et Labora, a weekly time where speakers come to campus to talk about their work and how their faith impacts that work, she recalled a time when she herself fell into this trap. 

“I was in a job I loved, but there was just a lot of turmoil happening in the company,” the 2019 Kuyper graduate said. “I was really worried about it, and that revealed to me how tightly I was holding onto this job, this company. I saw how my work had slowly become my identity.”

During a time of prayer, Sleeman realized that her identity needed to be rooted in Christ, not the success or failure of her employer. And this realization, she said, set her free to follow God’s direction elsewhere.

Now, she works with Athletes in Action, which is part of the campus ministry organization Cru and helps athletes develop physically, mentally and spiritually. 

“When I combined what I was good at with what brought me joy, which was helping disciple future leaders, it became this beautiful blend of being able to do that in the context of athletic ministry,” she said.

In this new role, Sleeman helps the athletes she works with find their identity in Christ, not in the sport they play or the work they do, a lesson she urged the audience to remember as well.

“We talk to our athletes about the principle of ‘The Audience of One’, which is the idea that you are performing or playing your sport for an audience of one, that one being God,” she explained.

She added that this means our success or failure doesn’t change our identity, because we already know that we are fully loved and accepted by God.

“And that frees us to play the game, do our job, or whatever it is at 100%. We can leave the results up to God, we just have to walk by faith and give it everything that we have,” said Sleeman, smiling.

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