What if more businesses employed people like Christopher Bennett whose job is to minister to other employees?
Chris, a graduate of Austin Graduate School of Theology, is a Team Member Care Associate at K&N Management, which owns the well-known establishments Mighty Fine Burgers and Rudy’s BBQ.
Simply put, Chris’ work empowers people to make positive change in their lives. Whether they are wanting to excel in their career, experiencing difficult relationships, or maybe dealing with addictions, K&N Management has created a team that’s available 24/7 to help bridge the gap between what is and what could be.
Before entering this marketplace ministry, Chris and his wife were involved in several different ministry positions. Over time, he finally started to dream bigger and get specific. It all changed when he began to write the details down. He knew that his passion was to help people in practical ways, but he didn’t want a traditional ministry title.
Before becoming a Team Member Care Associate at K&N Management, serving employees at Mighty Fine Burgers and Rudy’s BBQ, Chris says, he never really had much of a set career but worked odd jobs like cleaning offices at night, preaching, delivering pizza, doing youth ministry, working at a cabinet shop, and installing Christmas lights. Chris believes had he not written down his dreams, he likely would have remained in his job as a septic maintenance provider, simply because it provided financial security.
During his last semester at Austin Grad, Chris was recommended for an internship at K&N Management. He had one remaining elective and he was thinking of taking a pottery class at Austin Community College. His best friend would often send photos of coffee mugs and bowls he had made, but the opportunity to eat BBQ and hamburgers outweighed his love for coffee and cereal, so he applied.
Little did he know, but this company had everything on his list, as well as others he didn't yet know were important to him. For example, the company encourages employees to develop and is willing to provide the resources for them to do so.
There are several themes Chris has encountered in his work as a Team Member Care Associate. The past four years he has sat with those who have experienced prolonged trauma and abuse, betrayal by those most important, and uncertainty about where they’ll sleep and what they’ll eat. “I have sat with those that are literally walking through the valley of the shadow of death," he shared.
Chris believes the moments that are most rewarding happen when someone experiences a shift in thinking and begins to break through the beliefs and limitations that once robbed them of their joy.
But Chris doesn't face such weighty issues every day. Most often he finds himself helping team members dream about the future, develop their career, take a good relationship and make it great, connect people with resources, plan volunteer opportunities, and run the stores’ sports outings.
Chris explains how he incorporates his faith in his work. He says he’s tried and failed miserably at convincing people to change. In response, he’s employed two strategies found in the Bible. “First, have you ever noticed how many questions Jesus asked? What if I don’t have to have all the answers but simply ask good questions, like Jesus? If people can begin to uncover Biblical principles on their own and I can focus on adding value, then I'm doing my job well. Second, I desperately depend on the Holy Spirit to change the hearts of people I spend time with. I believe that God cares for them immensely and is much more invested than I am,” he said.
Chris believes that when he has experienced change in his life it has been due to the kindness of God. He has found Jesus to be kind, courageous, and someone who doesn’t shy away from engaging in the messiness of people’s lives. He tries to do the same.
Chris’s time pursing his Bachelor of Arts in Christian Studies degree at Austin Grad left a mark on him and how he does his work. He says the student body at Austin Grad was more diverse than anywhere he had experienced previously. He felt the professors didn’t tell him what to think but taught him how to think critically. He believes those two elements have helped expand how he sees and engages with the world around him.
We honor Christopher Bennett as Austin Grad’s newest Living Stones Award recipient.
The Living Stones Award "honors individuals who are actively building up the church by passing on the faith and being Christ to the world through merciful service," Austin Grad President Stan Reid said. "We want to recognize Christians who are modeling how to live out the Christian faith in their church and community. Through the Living Stones Award we will tell the stories of those who are doing this with grace and humility." For more information about this award, please go here.
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Austin Graduate School of Theology is an Austin seminary offering B.A. and M.A. ministry degrees, and Austin Grad is accredited by the same agency that accredits Abilene Christian University, Baylor University, Southern Methodist University, Texas A&M University, Texas State University, The University of Texas, and others. Austin Grad -- one of the top Christian colleges in Texas and among the top seminaries in Texas -- is affiliated with the Church of Christ and is in conversation with all who confess Jesus as Lord. Austin Grad promotes faith seeking understanding and is committed to providing a high quality education for those who desire to be equipped to expand the Kingdom of God.