I was born thirty-two years ago and raised as a Seventh-day Adventist. Among other things, that means I celebrate the Sabbath. So from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday, I unplug from my hectic life as a Columbia film executive. No work. I don't check e-mail or roll calls. I break the fourth commandment of the movie business—Thou shalt never turn off thy BlackBerry—and turn off my BlackBerry.
The Sabbath is my time with the Lord, my time to unwind from the pressures of work, heal, and reflect on the many blessings in my life and the career path that has led me here. On Friday nights I study my Bible, pray, spend quiet hours in communion with God, and make plans with family for church and fellowship on Saturday.
Unless I happen to be in Beijing. In that case, I'll read Scripture, watch the incredible metropolis slowly come to life, and pray that the dailies look good. Normally I would go to church, but in China most of the Christian churches are underground and I had no idea how to go about finding them. So I settled for reading the Bible and spending time in private communion with God—my own personal church in the midst of one of the world's busiest cities.
The next morning, I decided that didn't want to spend the entire Sabbath in my hotel room. I ended up going to a park right outside the Olympic Village where I could sit under God's sky, watch the birds, listen to gospel music, and read the Word. As I was going through Romans, the idea came to me for this book. Just like that, clear as day.
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YOU MAY FIND IT impossible that a Hollywood studio executive is also a devout Christian. But it's not a contradiction. In reality, my business is not very different from your own. There are opportunities, politics, unspoken expectations, and a set of rules for advancement that are very different from the Lord's rules. No matter what line of work you find yourself in, you may feel that being a Christian is holding you back. You may feel caught between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, if you don't toe the company line and put your career first, can you still call yourself a company man or woman? On the other, if you ignore the Word and set aside the precepts of your faith when it's convenient, can you still call yourself a Christian? Sometimes, it feels like we're walking on a tightrope and below us there's no net, just a big, dark abyss.
I've got great news. I've found that it is possible to put Christ first and have a thriving career. In fact, I believe it's necessary. My favorite scripture is Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." God is our strength; his love, demonstrated through us, can move mountains and change hearts. Being a Christian is actually a ,competitive edge... provided that you place your faith first above even your professional aspirations. Even if in the past you've compromised and slid partway down that slippery slope, it's still possible to find your way back. If I have learned anything, it's this:
To get where you want to go, you first have
to become the person God wants you to be.
I know writing this book is definitely part of my journey to become who God wants me to be. Some would probably say I'm crazy. The common practice when you're in business is that you write a book after you've either reached your goal and accumulated some power and prominence or left your industry altogether. I'm in neither place. I'm just like most of the people reading this book: still climbing the corporate ladder and/or right in the middle of my career pursuit. Yet I believe God has called me right now to share my unique experiences and this urgent message with you, so I must be obedient to his will.
The message? During my time in the film industry, I have put my faith front and center for everyone to see. It's my experience that people handle the intersection of faith and career in one of two ways. Some conceal their beliefs at the workplace, dumping their Christian principles on the kitchen table like a spare set of keys when they leave the house in the morning. Others refuse the command to be "in the world but not of the world" and work only in environments run by and for other Christians.