How God Works in a Data and Efficiency-Driven World

By Michelle Choi

I’m a data and analytics consultant in New York, involved in various types of work, most recently advising companies on what data to track and how to personalize people’s experiences with it. If anyone understands the gravity of privacy, it is the people who synthesize and use data in their line of work. The cultural mandate to “be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it” has emphasized the responsibility I have to continually research, question and advise either for or against methods of tracking, technology and usability.

Beyond trying to do what is right, the Center for Faith and Work’s Gotham Fellowship Year challenged me to do what is good. Analytics, the other part of my job, requires interpreting data correctly and effectively recommending decisions that lead to greater results. In previous years, I sought to grow businesses fast with automation, modeling, optimizing processes and establishing best practices–a quick, assertive and analytical approach to being effective.

Michelle Choi, Gotham Fellow ’19

Then a CFW leader pointed out that God’s definition of efficiency could be different than mine, which made me reread the Bible to understand God as a worker. I realized that God couldn’t be calculated, because he encompasses all knowledge. Rather, he is measured, being restrained but deliberate, showing consistency but not necessarily rhythm, thoughtful but not limited. A God of wisdom doesn’t need to be assertive, because he possesses grace and sound judgment to empower us as agents of his work with patience, forgiveness and strength. God transcends time, so his timing fits into the story that he is crafting, not into our life’s timeline. And most importantly, Christ who overcame the world by breaking its rules possesses the ultimate control and mediation of our work, relationships and social structures. Believing in his involvement in all of my endeavors gave me a sense of relief–that as much as it is still my responsibility to uphold the creation of good in all I do, any and all of my failures combined cannot outweigh Christ’s continual work in this world.

The metrics by which I evaluated success didn’t change; neither did my performance or commitment to work. I’ve seen the success of my teams, company and my personal career rise beyond what I could control despite major setbacks. God has shown me that he can still drive results through me, while calling me to give him honor, control and trust. He calls me into faithfulness, so that I can boast in him, not in the successes or blessings that he provides. He disciples me to trust and follow him even in my deepest struggles. For me now, success is not only glorifying God through good work, but also finding sovereign immutability in wavering times. Gotham has allowed me to practice my faith in not just what I do, but how I do it. The discipleship of theology refined my ability to translate faith into action… or as I’d call it, obedience.

Though you may not consider yourself an analyst, you may be closer to that role than you think. We are all given opportunities to deepen our calling into administrating information. Everyday, we interact with people and learn new things about them. Even beyond our relationships, in a time when information is skewed to capture attention and consistent readership, we are especially called to seek truth and apply the gospel lens to our (internal and external) responses. This is where it is even more crucial to lean on God’s understanding through prayer and listening in order to serve him in a world that offers us more data than ever. I challenge you today: What will you do with the things that you know?

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