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Christian Union: The Magazine
March 3, 2022

Students Challenged to Be Salt and Light at 2019 Nexus Conference

By Tom Campisi, Managing Editor

Editor's note: This article, which features coverage of Christian Union's Nexus Conference, originally appeared in the Spring 2019 edition of  Christian Union: The Magazine and is reprinted in conjuction with the publication's "Throwback Thursday" series.  

Have the courage to say yes—even when you are unsure of where it may lead.

That was one word of advice given to students by television and film producer D.T. Slouffman during the media and communications vocational panel at Christian Union’s Nexus Conference in February 2019. The theme of the conference, held at the New Brunswick (NJ) Hyatt, was “Courageous in the Ways of the Lord.”


Slouffman, who has won six Sports Emmy Awards, recently created six digital sub-brands for Sports Illustrated and was executive producer for the magazine’s digital series SI NOW. Other credits include work on CNN, Lifetime, and Discovery Channel.

Calling2019Panelists Morgan Lee, D.T. Slouffman, and Christina Crook at the Nexus Conference’s media and communications vocational panel

At Nexus, he recalled how his career accelerated after accepting a last-minute assignment to cover figure skating in Switzerland. Taking advantage of that opportunity led to work with the Winter Olympics and other jobs until he was requested as stage manager by legendary sports commentator Brent Musberger.

“Say yes until God says no,” he advised the students. “Don’t be afraid to say yes and believe that God is sovereign. You won’t be sorry that you did. One thing leads to another, which leads to another. When you say yes, it is courageous.”

Another member of the media and communications panel, Christina Crook told the students to “have the courage to be curious.” Crook is an award-winning author of The Joy of Missing Out: Finding Balance in a Wired World. She talked about her Letters from a Luddite project, which chronicled her thirty-one-day internet fast and fueled her passion for exploring the intersection of technology, relationships, and joy.

One of the highlights from the Arts vocational panel came from Sally Lloyd-Jones, a New York Times bestselling writer and author of several popular children’s books, including How to Be a Baby, The Jesus Storybook Bible, and Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing.

Jones told the students at Nexus that her writing doesn’t target Christians, but instead focuses on beauty and excellence.

“I don’t write Christian books or non-Christian books,” she said. “Christ made beauty. Beauty speaks to us. If everything we do is done with excellence, beauty will reach everyone. My calling is to bring joy to children.”

At the law and government vocational panel, attorney Andrew Graham spoke about being salt and light in the legal profession. Graham, the executive director for Policy and Education at First Liberty Institute, focused his remarks on conflicts in the life of a litigator. “You want your faith to impact your law practice—you don’t want the legal profession to shape you,” he told attendees.

Lisa Schultz, Chief of Staff for United States Senate Chaplain Barry Black, talked about having courage on Capitol Hill, where status is an idol and politicians are separated by deep ideological divides.

“I try to be courageous and not look at people through a political lens and party affiliation,” she said. “We focus on the image of God in people.”

Schultz encouraged the students to pursue careers in government and to trust in God.

“We need believers who love the Lord and walk with the Lord in Washington, DC,” she said. “Be confident in Christ, not in status or power. It’s ok to be weak and depend on God.”

Panelist J. Daryl Charles, PhD, also encouraged students not to be afraid to work in government, despite the distrust many millennials may have for those institutions. Charles, an author, editor, and Acton Institute affiliated scholar in Theology and Ethics, challenged attendees to have a public faith, not a private faith.

“God resists evil and preserves morality through sound ordinances,” he said. “Law and government play a significant role and are crucial to a civil society.”

“We must not forsake these institutions…we are cultural stewards. We need to love people and let the chips fall where they may. Despite living in a pagan cultural climate, we must stand for moral truth and a virtuous culture…”

“We need to have a robust, public faith and stand up in the marketplace.”

At the business ventures breakout session, students were similarly challenged.

“Do you have the courage to make a difference in the marketplace?” said Peter Cline, the founder and chief executive officer of Auxano Advisors. “Your work in the marketplace is your ministry. It’s your pulpit. It’s your calling.”

Cline talked about his company’s biblical approach to stewardship and wealth management.

“We believe money is simply a tool to do the will of God. Nothing more…We do not create wealth on our own. God creates wealth through us,” said Cline, quoting Deuteronomy 8:18.

“God provides you with capital to fulfill your calling.”

Attorney Paul Michalski, founder of Integrous LLC, admitted he had absolutely no idea about calling or the connection of faith and work when he achieved his lifelong dream job as a partner in a Wall Street law firm.

An alumnus of Harvard College (’83) and Harvard Law School (’86), Michalski and his wife appeared to have it all with two children and a house in the suburbs. But once he reached the pinnacle of success, work no longer provided satisfaction.

Michalski recalled thinking, “Is this it?”

“It felt disturbingly empty,” he said.

At home, his marriage was “in a slow death spiral.” The crisis, however, led him to cry out to the Lord. And he also started to attend meetings of the original chapter of the New Canaan Society, “a group of men who gather together to encourage each other in friendship and faith and to support each other to be better husbands, fathers, — and better men — in the marketplace and in our communities.”

“Men came around me and taught me about Jesus,” he said. “The Lord miraculously restored my marriage.”

In 2009, he left his firm to provide national leadership to the New Canaan Society and became involved in the faith and work movement.

Today, as general counsel of Integrous, his personal mission statement is: “to serve by redeeming work through the impartation of wisdom to leaders, spotlighting God’s truth and connecting its meaning to organizational cultures and practices.” 

“Our life is our faith,” he told the students at Nexus. “We need to bring our work into our faith, not bring our faith into our work.”

RELATED: Want to go deeper in your faith? Click here to receive a free download of Christian Union’s "Seeking God Lifestyle” Bible Course Manual.

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