02 2010

Work & Cultural Renewal: Amilee Watkins Joins CFW Team

“Coffee girl.” Once upon a time, I resented the phrase. I started working for Starbucks Coffee Company part-time while completing my degree in Instrumental Performance. I wanted to supplement my musician’s life with stability—pay, benefits, free coffee. Not being able to see seven years into the future, I had no idea that the Lord was about to use the world of coffee to re-define me. 

The mission of Starbucks attracted me: “To create uplifting experiences that enrich people’s daily lives.” I loved that my work added value to both the community and the lives of my customers and co-workers. So I continued growing within a company that invested in my professional development and maintained a commitment to its people first. Soon, I was managing stores and taking on the development of others.

“Coffee girl” no longer aggravates me. The high-volume service work, while exhausting, tiresome, and crisis-laden, was physically pushing the gospel outward into the city as I saw lives renewed and relationships restored. My role took on more than just profit making as I counseled a young employee through changing her decision to abort an unwanted child. Another employee had been forced to leave her young son in Indonesia for nearly 3 years while seeking asylum here in the United States. She now runs a Starbucks in Singapore where her entire family resides in safety. The Lord’s restoration process was evident and, by his grace, I participated. He deepened my reliance on him through times of burnout, and developed within me a firm understanding of the value of work itself.

I read about the inaugural Gotham Fellowship in the bright yellow insert during a West Side AM service. Interested applicants must be “young professionals in their mid 20’s who are currently employed full-time in NYC and have at least two years of working experience.” I was excited to engage in cultural renewal within a community of others likewise committed to the city. The amount of course-work and depth therein inevitably spilled out into late night conversations with my husband and strengthened our theological foundation. The Fellowship provided close interactions with professionals in a wide range of fields much different than my own. As we grew in our understanding of the gospel as a community, we learned how God was using each of us in the renewal process of our respective industries.

As my Gotham year came to a close, I continued mulling over what the city could look like if we, as Christians, all saw ourselves in our current vocations as agents of restoration for the common good. In October I accepted a position with Redeemer’s Center for Faith & Work to bring my leadership development experience from Starbucks to our vocation-based groups and help others better understand how our work becomes a subset of God’s. So in that sense, my work hasn’t changed all that much. I just do it without wearing an apron.

Thank you for subscribing to the Redeemer Report. If you would like to support the work of Redeemer in NYC, please use the button below to make a gift.

Make a gift

Articles in this Issue

Lay Leadership and Redeemer’s Future
Tim Keller
Work & Cultural Renewal: Amilee Watkins Joins CFW Team
“Don’t Walk By” Homeless Outreach
RENEW Campaign Segues to Replanting
Howard Freeman
Officer Nominations Update