If you had told me eight years ago God would use the study of business to reveal His heart for me and draw me closer to Him, I probably would have given you an eye roll. This tends to be my go-to response when I think something is a bit too far reaching. My husband loves it!
At 17, I left Orange County, California, for Tulsa, Oklahoma, where I pursued a marketing degree and became the goalkeeper on the women's NCAA Division I soccer team at Oral Roberts University (ORU). Despite being a focus of attention on the soccer field, I struggled a bit with feeling invisible, as though people weren't seeing me for who I was. I always felt misunderstood.
Limited by Perceptions
My first two years at ORU were hard because this feeling became even more pronounced. People tended to treat me and respond to me according to the person they perceived me to be, which was often heavily influenced by my role as a goalkeeper. It was not uncommon that I be referred to as "intense" and "intimidating" along with a few other choice words. In fact, one of my college coaches admitted my senior night that he was somewhat afraid of me. This perception worked well for me on the field but was limiting in other areas.
Not only was I hampered by the perception others had of me, but I was limited by my own self-perception. Living within these limitations and being a bit of a perfectionist, I decided if I couldn't do something perfectly, I probably shouldn't try it at all.
In my third year at ORU, I took a class taught by the dean of the School of Business, and he saw the real me. He saw things I didn't see in myself and called those things out, challenging me to be more than I thought was possible. For example, I once found myself speaking in front of a room packed with top-level executives from Fortune 500 companies. But I am that girl who once walked out of my vocal recital mid-song! Standing up in front of a room of people is not my forté.
In the pursuit of excellence while studying business, the dean helped me discover what it means to be seen not according to what I do but rather according to the fullness of my heart—to be seen as Christ sees me.
"For the Lord sees not as man sees. For man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart" (1 Sam. 16:7).
Abiding in Christ
Having been truly seen, I was challenged to become the person the dean believed me to be. Outside of my comfort zone, I discovered glimpses of God's purpose for my life, full awareness of my self-doubt and shortcomings—and just how much I needed more of Jesus.
"I am the vine, you are the branches. He who remains in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit. For without Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5).
Now that I have stepped into my career as a marketer, my experience with someone who believed in me has served as an example of how I can be a conduit of God's love in the workplace. In a field where relationships make the world go round, I have endless opportunity to see people through God's eyes—for who they really are—not allowing my perception of them to be based on how they present themselves but rather to be defined by who they are in the eyes of Christ.
Relying on the Holy Spirit for this insight into the hearts of the people I am privileged to work with, I am able to be wise in the way I act toward those whom God places in my life. I can make the most of every opportunity by having grace for the moment and to speak in a way that is more easily received (Col. 4:5-6). As I grow as a business leader, I will continue to depend upon the Spirit to provide wisdom and insight in order to achieve what He has called me to both professionally and relationally.
Amanda Barbosa is customer acquisition and public relations manager at a women's activewear company in Santa Monica, California. She is a summa cum laude graduate of Oral Roberts University, where she also obtained her MBA and was a NCAA Division I athlete.
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