Alumni Feature: Evelyn Stetzer (MCA ’18)

When faced with difficulty, Evelyn Stetzer (MCA ’18) is learning to ask, “How am I going to worship through this?” rather than, “How can I control this situation?"

Evelyn Stetzer
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“Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference,” is the prayer that Evelyn Stetzer (MCA ’18), repeats every day as she serves in her church and works as a content manager for The Smithee Group. In the daily grind of a nine-to-six, this prayer reminds Evelyn of the greatest lesson she learned during her teenage years about the balance of God’s authority and her responsibility as His follower.

Growing up with a family member fighting for victory over an addiction, Evelyn experienced “the apex of difficulty” she will probably ever experience when the situation escalated toward resolution in her senior year of high school. “No matter what task I had at hand, there was always another factor of tension in the place that mattered most to me. How I navigated that in a Christian life was learning how to depend on God fully and allowing Him to be my strength.” She did this mostly through music. Beyond her time alone, she is thankful for the opportunity she had throughout high school to be a part of an excellent worship team who cared for her and her family at her home church, a megachurch in southern Florida. Over several years of singing six services each weekend she served, worship was more than just a comfort—it became her shield.

“I would play guitar in my bedroom and worship my soul away until my problem was smaller than God. I transposed the methods I learned in high school to my college years as well,” she said. Living in the City presented all sorts of new challenges that many face when they leave home—babysitting for income, cooking for herself, and living independently in the midst of driven, self-focused people—but she claims the biggest was how the City forces you to face yourself. Still, she says, “Whatever the difficulty was, I always almost joked with myself, This is not as bad as senior year.”

At King’s, she was placed in the House of Sojourner Truth. “I was very quickly interested in the House system because I had such great friends in my House. I actually didn’t know there was a House system before I got to King’s. But as I got more involved, it got more complicated.” Evelyn encountered House leadership as an upperclassman, first as chamberlain and later as president. “Talk about difficulty and the Christian life, dear Jesus!” she says, in response to the question of how following Jesus will call us into difficulty at King’s. “I don’t think I was specifically skilled to be a president, but I do think I was called to learn something through the difficulty of being president. I much prefer to be the shaper, the person behind the scenes carrying culture, the second in command. But when I was fearful about the position, I prayed and heard God ask me, ‘What is hard to you about being president?’ and I knew it was that I had to be a lot of things I wasn’t. You need to be reliable; you need to be active; you need to be intentional; you need to be on time; you need to be orderly; you need to love people unconditionally,” she says. “Then God came back like He does and said, ‘So you’re afraid of becoming more like me?’”

“Difficulty is sharpening,” she reflects. “There will always be outside circumstances in this crazy, broken, fallen world that will come against you. It’s been my experience in high school and college and even now that God will give me opportunities and ask me to do things that feel too big for me, but then He says, ‘I’m going to teach you how to do it.’” While Evelyn cherished being president of the House of Truth, the greater experience of being a student leading other students was humbling, mainly because she felt she had hidden expectations on her that she only learned about later. “That job taught me that you can’t control anything. You can only control how you respond, and rely on God to handle the rest.”

After graduating, Evelyn felt that, though she had already learned some hard lessons, she found new ones. She describes the artificiality of the college environment as a mixed blessing that led to some surprising revelations as a young professional. At college, she says, “You’re in a petri dish.” Choosing professors and a class schedule and being the master of their own time gives students a misplaced faith in their own autonomy. When she started as a full-time content manager at The Smithee Group, a digital marketing agency, two weeks after graduation, “I learned that I had a false sense of authority at King’s, which really set me up to fail. I had to break that mentality when I came to the table of my small start-up with amazing young professionals.”

She quickly learned that professionalism involves differentiating between her role and her desire for control. “Things got hard when I thought it was my job to think about the future of my company alone or all the relationship dynamics or the complete wellbeing of the client, forgetting that I’m on a team. I found a lot of freedom in identifying that it’s not my job to control anyone else or how everything will go. It’s my job to do what I’m there to do—be a team player with my tasks—and be really good at it. I realized I am most able to be good at my job when I’m not focused on doing things that aren’t my job. It was the same thing I learned in high school and college: it’s not the load that breaks you down; it’s how you carry it. A tired heart is a choice.”

The same is true for her Christian walk. No matter how busy the weeks feel, she continues to lead worship through singing and playing guitar at Liberty Church, which she joined when she first moved to New York. Evelyn says that though life since graduation has not been without its challenges, she’s found new levels of freedom in the perfect balance of God’s authority and what she’s supposed to do in the moment. When things feel difficult, she asks, “How am I going to worship through this?” rather than, “How can I control this situation?” She claims the secret to the difficulty promised to those who follow Jesus is not just that we learn how to do hard things. We learn to focus on God’s sovereignty and His control so much so that things no longer feel difficult. Through Him, she says, “I’ve been able to do things that I never could on my own and see Him do things I could never have imagined.

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