Faith at Work In Public Service: Marshall Herndon
Getting to Know You.
Hi my name is Marshall and I am 24 years old. My wife, Lacey, and I have been married and living in Dallas for one year now! We moved here to Dallas so my wife could attend grad school at UT Dallas and I have since started work as a Public Safety Telecommunicator for Richardson Police Department. Just some random facts about myself, there have been multiple instances where I had to escape death to still be here today! From falling off a bridge, getting my arm stuck in a real cannon, getting launched from the bed of a moving truck, to being in a building struck by lightning. (While all of these are technically true, some of the events may not have been as dangerous as portrayed)
What do you do on a weekly basis?
Public Safety Telecommunicator is just a lengthy title that means I answer 911 and non-emergency phone lines, as well as dispatch Police/Fire/EMS to incidents in the city of Richardson. 911 operators are often the first interaction people have when seeking help in critical (and sometimes not so critical) situations. Our job when answering 911 is to quickly gain the most pertinent information to relay to our first responders, give initial instruction to the caller and dispatch emergency responders to keep their safety a primary focus as we keep them informed on the streets.
How has your personal walk with Jesus impacted the way you work?
Honestly, without Jesus I don’t know that I could have a healthy work life. When it comes to my flesh, I am naturally a lazy person concerning my mindset towards work. In this first experience of working full time though, I have seen God transform my heart and mind to understand the vital importance and fruit of our daily labor. Reading through the Gospels we see how Jesus continually gave of himself to the benefit of others, yet never grew empty or selfish because he was working not just FOR but WITH God the Father through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. This model of work is something The Lord has impressed upon me to seek, beginning greatly in prayer and carrying on into action. With the grace of Jesus I am slowly learning to battle my self-serving attitude towards work and see the joy of self-giving to God and others.
Want to learn how Jesus fills our work with passion and purpose like Marshall? Download our free Faith Works course here.
What challenges have you encountered as you walk your faith out at work?
I think one obvious challenge of working in a 911/dispatch center is the sobering insight you get into the depravity of mankind and the brokenness of the world. Most of the time somebody is forced to call 911, they are having a really bad day and because of the nature of this job, you have willingly chosen to deal with people in some of their worst moments. Second-hand encounters with tragedies such as crime, suicide, physical and mental illness, family violence and so forth on a regular basis challenges my Christian worldview in terms of wrestling with questions about evil and how a just and loving God is still sovereign over these tragedies.
How have you been able to represent or re-present Jesus through your job?
One of the most attractive things about Jesus is the way he showed grace and kindness towards the sinners and the sick that were considered the “lowliest” of society. It’s incredible to see how Jesus treated people with such dignity and honor, and this is something I strive to do but am not always successful at when answering 911. I have a great opportunity to intervene in the lives of people without showing partial judgment due to their circumstances or deeming them unworthy. It can sometimes be easy for people I work with to almost dehumanize others in the way they talk about people when they get off the phone based on their choices and the situations they sometimes place themselves into. It takes conscious effort and prayer to show sympathy for all, without bias or self-righteous judgment, when you see some of sin in people that is revealed through our work. My hope is that my words towards or about people will create a glimpse of God’s pure heart for his creation for my coworkers to see through my faith.
What are some lessons that God has taught you through your work that could help our blog readers?
Something I have learned through work is how impactful taming my tongue can be. We are charged in Philippians 2:14-15 to do everything without grumbling/complaining/arguing so that we would appear as blameless children of God shining like lights in a dark and crooked generation. Everything without complaining though!? That is especially hard when it has become an American pastime to center our conversations around complaining! Especially at work…how many times do we relate to our coworkers by complaining about tasks, customers or even our bosses? I think as Christians though, the best way to combat complaining is to not just abstain from it, but to replace it with thankfulness. I not only have seen sanctification take place in my own heart and mind when pursuing joy in my work, but that joy can be infectious to the people around us. Our words provide such an obvious representation of our hearts and minds and this can be a very practical step in better exemplifying the image of Christ to our peers. Prayerfully practicing thankfulness instead of complaining, joy instead of discontent, and kindness instead of gossip has not only allowed Jesus to correct my heart, but it has opened a lot of doors to share Jesus with those who are refreshed by such spirit.
Any books, lectures, mentors that have been inspirational to you in your field?
One of my favorite books is Humility by Andrew Murray. This is such a great devotional that I feel has drawn me so much closer to Christ’s character and helped me to selflessly serve others without seeming like a burden. I also got to spend years as a student and later as an intern with a youth pastor who taught me so much about working hard and honoring others. He never seemed to grow weary of his work or speak poorly of anyone and that has greatly impacted and taught me how to lead and shepherd well. Also, shout out to my Lifegroup family! Having fellow believers as a constant fixture in my life has allowed so much more room for iron to sharpen iron and growth to take place.
If this inspired you and you want to learn how Jesus fills our work with passion and purpose like Marshall? Download our free Faith Works course here.