There are only a few of us and if you're one of us you know who you are: 2nd generation InterVarsity staff. (And we prefer "legacy" to "nepotism," thanks.)
As a designer with InterVarsity’s media team, twentyonehundred productions, I’m constantly reminded that I work in the same organization as my dad: answering requests from staff in his region, introducing myself at conferences, etc.
But this Father’s Day, I’m reminded of how my dad and his being InterVarsity staff has shaped me for the better. Here are a few of the things he’s taught me.
1. Talk to people. Care about them.
Now this isn't just InterVarsity staff; it's anyone in ministry: your entire job is talking to and loving people. But InterVarsity staff and students in particular spend the first few weeks of every school year on a serious talking-to-strangers binge, my dad included.
When I was little, I didn't completely understand what Dad did. I knew he was on campus Friday nights, which meant we got to have fish (which Dad hates) and watch chick flicks (ditto). And I knew he was really good at starting a conversation with just about anyone. I'd watch him do it, go from a casual “how're you?” after church to an in-depth conversation about the most obscure subject. We couldn’t get him to stop asking people questions. He'd be intently listening, and we'd have to drag him away before he asked another one: Dad we're starving for lunch! And he'd always openly share his experience, too, starting with, "What I've found is..."
Even though he said he was shy when he was little, I didn't believe him; he could never have been as shy as me. Talking to people was very scary, and I would never get over it. But here I am, twenty years later and my sisters say the same thing about me: she'll talk to anybody. I like to get to know people. I'm genuinely curious, so I try to ask questions. I really want to know the answer, so I try to listen intently. And I care, so I want to share my story. Sound familiar? Definitely. It's how we run proxe stations, especially the ones I've helped design for New Student Outreach: Red Cup and the new Who Will You Be? Oh, right, and I learned it all from my dad. Thanks, Dad!
2. Do it yourself. And if you can't, do your research.
I'm sure this attitude is in part because, well, staff are on a budget. But it's not just that. Think about it: isn't this how we do manuscript Bible study? First read the text, come up with your own observations, and then head to the commentaries when there's something you don't understand.
My dad, of course, takes it far outside of Bible study: it's about fixing your own car, building your own boat, and sewing your own clothing. He fixes everything, and researches every inch of things he doesn't have the tools to fix. When he takes the car to someone, whom he's also researched, he understands what they are saying.
So when my car had an idler pulley break, I asked another knowledgeable staff to help me buy the part and we fixed it right there in the parking lot of InterVarsity’s National Service Center. When its ball bearings were on their last legs, I bought an OEM control arm online for half the price myself. By the time I'd figured out the parts needed and how to get them, I knew what I was talking about with the mechanic. But of course, I had my dad to tell me what OEM meant. Thanks Dad!
3. Appreciate excellence. Appreciate beauty.
Dad also enjoys fine woodworking; it’s the doing it yourself thing again. And he uses those skills to build frames for my mom's art. He makes whatever he makes with excellence and also appreciates when someone else does. He appreciates when God does it too: Dad takes a lot of beautiful photos of flowers.
That lesson certainly shows in where I am today. I'm a part of twentyonehundred productions because I found a media department that does its work with excellence inside a Christian fellowship that appreciates beauty. This is changing, but too often Christian nonprofits haven't cared about the medium as long as the message gets out. Never mind that message and medium are connected. From Puritan roots, we've gleaned that caring about looks is frivolous and we’ve thrown out whole disciplines—art, design, and fashion—with that assumption. Never mind that looks bely our commitment (or lack of commitment) to excellence and that they can communicate important truths.
I'm blessed to be a part of a ministry—and have a dad—that knows the power of good design and encourages excellence. At Intervarsity we care about the future of the University, not just its students, and we care about students’ faith and careers over a lifetime, not just how much they contribute to our events—those are commitments to excellence. I see those values in my dad’s work and life. Thanks, Dad!
4. Be Missional.
I'd like to say I was missional before missional was a word (is it a word?), but I probably wasn't. Still, I loved going on missions trips because of Dad's job. I saw him leading others to Christ—and it made me ask if I’d taken that step. I couldn’t remember—maybe I’d been too little to remember—so Dad prayed with me. I saw student teams being bold and brave and inviting people to missions activities, and I knew you had to be bold and brave to be a Christian. When Dad told us about how he told the real Christmas story to a student who had never heard it before, I could see the joy it gave him.
Now I’m not perfect, but I try to be brave and bold, inviting my non-Christian friends to GIGs (Groups Investigating God), inviting my Christian friends to contribute to my work with InterVarsity, and, through my work, backing students and staff on campus every step of the way. I get to be there when students share their testimonies at Greek Conference, sharing in the joy behind the tech table.
So all you staff dads whose kids aren’t big enough to be on staff yet, take them along! We love it, and we’re paying attention, learning to walk with Jesus by walking next to you. Thanks, Dad!
5. Who farted?
Dad has always kept a silly sense of humor. If someone farts around our dinner table, they’ll never hear the end of it. As a serious little kid, I didn’t always appreciate that. But as a (nearly) bonafide grown up, I’m glad I have a strong example that big people don’t always have to take themselves too seriously, especially in an organization where those of us who are out of college should still know what the kids are up to these days.
I remember tagging along to a retreat where Dad gave a talk asking students to confess their sins and let them go, symbolically burning them. Later that day students painted their faces Braveheart-style for a game. It took a double-take to realize Dad’s face wasn’t Braveheart, it was the BMW logo.
At 2100 and at InterVarsity we try to the balance the serious work we do with humor. After editing videos about trafficking victims, taking a break to create the 2100 infographic keeps us sane. Sometimes when you take yourself and the world too seriously, it’s hard to deal with reality. You start to feel fake. The last thing we want to show college students is fake Christians—we want to be real ones. And showing our real selves and our real senses of humor can feel awkward, but it’s totally worth it. I share my quirks at the office and in my work, knowing Dad has his quirks and I love them. His laugh makes me laugh every time. Thanks, Dad!
Thanks Dad, for making me a better person, a better designer, and a better InterVarsity staff member. Where would I be without you?
Grete Bauder is a Graphic Designer with twentyonehundred productions, InterVarsity’s multimedia and design team. She’s responsible for design of the Red Cup campus campaign, Greek Conference and the Urbana 06 and 09 Bible, handbooks, and stage sets, among other things. She shows her flare around the office by wearing a tie every Tuesday and showing it on tietuesdays.tumblr.com. Grete’s dad, Kevin Bauder, is Regional Director of Graduate and Faculty Ministries in the Northeast. Kind of a big wig.