From Fear to Faith
When a job in finance came his way, Carter Fletcher sought to discern if and how he could serve God whole-heartedly outside of vocational ministry.
It was an ordinary weekday afternoon in the middle of February. Carter Fletcher (Finance ’18) was sitting at his desk in his New York apartment, writing a paper for class, when an email landed in his inbox from PEI, the private equity firm where he had been interning since the previous summer. He opened it to find a full-time job offer and breathed a sigh of relief. This offer didn’t exactly come as a surprise: his supervisor had asked him a few weeks ago if he would consider staying on after he graduated. But it did mean security: this soon-to-graduate college senior now had a plan.
However, alongside the excitement, there was a nudging question: Would the finance job turn out to be so comfortable that he’d eventually ignore what might be his true calling? Since the end of high school, Fletcher had been caught between two conflicting career goals: business and vocational ministry. As a fiercely committed Christian, he believed that his job was supposed to express that faith. So while he majored in finance at King’s, he purposefully kept the door open for a future as a pastor or youth minister. Now that it was time to make a decision, Fletcher feared that a full-time role in finance would be somehow settling for less than a full commitment to Christ.
Fletcher’s interest in the world of business and finance traced back to his childhood in Destin, Fla.. Since he was young, Fletcher had seen his father manage his own ATM company, patiently taking customer service calls and servicing ATMs whenever they were broken, even on weekends. “I never saw him sit back and say, ‘I’m the boss; you need to do this,’” says Fletcher. “I got to see how, from the risk he took, he was providing for so many people who were then able to make a living.” In his father’s example, Fletcher saw how the for-profit sphere could bring value to others.
He planned to study business in college and, as an offensive lineman being recruited by Division 1 schools, he planned to base his college decision on the football offers he received.
But during his senior year, he began to feel that his body wouldn’t be able to take the strain of college football. Due to a genetic condition, he was experiencing an abnormal amount of pain in his hips while working out. Then, in the second to last game of the season, he tore his MCL and had to watch from the sidelines while his team competed in the playoffs. Physical therapy cleared him to play in his final high school game, an ”all-star” competition between teams assembled from neighboring schools, but he had missed over a month of lifting weights and his knee braces threw off his performance. “I had the worst game of my life,” Fletcher recalls.
These physical challenges made it clear to Fletcher that he would need to give up his dream of playing football. While it was disappointing, he found a sweetness in knowing that he could lose football without losing what was most important: his relationship with God. “My identity is not found in anything else other than that I am His,” Fletcher said. “He loves me… He died for me.” His faith had always been a part of Fletcher’s life, but now he recognized it as central.
Now that football was out of the picture, Fletcher decided to buy himself some time while he figured out what to do next. He enrolled at a nearby college, Northwest Florida State, where he earned an associate’s in accounting. While there, he stayed active in his local church, partnering with his youth pastor to help run the Wednesday youth group. On his own, Fletcher gathered high school guys for an informal Bible study over burritos at a local Chipotle.
As his associate degree was wrapping up, Fletcher decided to transfer to The King’s College where he would pursue a major in finance. To Fletcher, business and ministry were a practical combination. Even if he ended up working full-time in the church, he figured that his experience managing money would prove beneficial. The King’s College, with its PPE core curriculum, was the perfect place to complete his bachelor’s degree: He would major in finance while also studying Christian thought, theology, philosophy, and history on the side.
During his three years at King’s, Fletcher thrived under the faculty’s emphasis on developing character, not just on acquiring skills. He interned at PEI during his senior year while also serving on The King’s Cabinet as the student director of spiritual life, helping to oversee the College’s new grant-funded Public Reading of Scripture initiative.
When the offer from PEI arrived, it seemed to Fletcher to be a good, viable option for a first job after college. This was just the kind of position for which his coursework had prepared him, and it would allow him to stay in New York while his girlfriend, Alexandria Burch (MCA ’19), finished her last year at King’s.
He signed the paperwork a week after receiving the offer, but continued second-guessing his decision throughout the rest of the semester. Somewhere along the way, Fletcher had made the assumption that his faith was supposed to be directly expressed through his work. “I worried that I was supposed to devote all my time to ministry, as a vocation,” he recalled. “When your faith is so real to you, it can seem nothing else is important.” While considering the offer from PEI, he worried that a career in finance would mean less opportunity to make an immediate impact for the Kingdom. Shouldn’t he be looking for something more directly related to his faith, like youth ministry?
A conversation with Professor Brian Brenberg helped alleviate some of Fletcher’s fears. Brenberg pointed to Fletcher’s work ethic, his willingness to take feedback, and his ability to provide vision for others and advised him to explore how those traits could be used in the marketplace. “God had brought him an opportunity and I think it was for a reason,” Brenberg says. His advice echoed the reasoning that had propelled Fletcher to choose finance as a major in the first place. Both career paths would provide him ways to serve others, and if he were to decide to go into vocational ministry later, his time in business would give him valuable skills and experience.
That advice, combined with conversations with friends, helped Fletcher feel more grounded in his decision. “I think he felt the pressure that a lot of people fall into,” recalled his roommate Brittin Ward (MCA ‘18). “If I’m not effecting huge change, then is what I’m doing worth it?”
While there was no single “silver bullet” piece of advice that resolved Fletcher’s anxieties, it eventually became clear to Fletcher that God’s calling for his life wasn’t a single determinate target that he could miss with one career step. He could start out in finance, keep seeking to live by God’s will, and remain open to what God had for him next. He realized the relief of knowing he could not put himself anywhere outside the sovereignty of God. The answers to his prayers echoed Scripture: “You can do nothing apart from me.”
Now, approaching two years since he began working full-time at PEI, Fletcher has been promoted from his starting position of investment analyst to his current role as senior analyst. In the small office, Fletcher serves as a self-described Swiss army knife, taking on IT and office management tasks in addition to his regular work researching, analyzing, and monitoring PEI’s private equity secondary investments. He sees his main arenas for mission as his daily diligence at work, his care for his friends and others whom God places in his life, and practicing love for his wife, Alexandria, whom he married in June 2019.
For the time being, Fletcher is sticking with finance, learning all he can and seeking to bless his colleagues while he’s at it. His attitude about the future now has less of the existential anxiety he felt at the end of college. “When you’re trying to live your life through God’s revealed Word, you pray, ‘Please make my desires in line with Your desires,’” Fletcher says now. “If the Spirit is with you, you don’t have to worry so much.”