The Essentials of Success

successThe following blog post is written to the graduating class of 2014 as part of the “Most Marketable Skills Campaign” that is put on by Webucator (an online learning company that helps individuals gain skills to further improve themselves).  This blog post will fall under the “Ask Webucator Series” that is currently being hosted by this organization. This month, Webucator is focusing on Microsoft as it is an important skill for almost all jobs and almost all employers require a working knowledge of this software.  To celebrate, Webucator is offering FREE self-paced courses on Microsoft to help others acquire knowledge and skills.  You can check out the courses here:

To the Graduating Class of 2014,

Congratulations on your hard work and perseverance. Many times people see high school or college/university graduation as simply a stepping stone, something that you have to do in order to get some place in life, however, it is really so much more than that. Graduation is a time of celebrating the fact that four years of learning really is a long time and that the skills you have made and the friendships you have developed during these years will stay with you for the long term.

My life looks radically different 5 years after graduating from high school and 2 years after graduating from university. Although I recently took a course called “Self-Care and Ministry” in which our professor encouraged us to create a five year plan for our lives, in reality if you asked me five years ago what my life would look like today,  I really would have had no idea.

Since graduating from high school I first attended Bible College then followed it up with seminary and now have aspirations for moving on to my PhD in Theology. I’ve held various jobs during these years that have really challenged and inspired me, though some have been less than glamorous. Finally, I landed myself a more permanent position for the year with L’Arche Daybreak (an intentional community for adults with developmental disabilities close to Toronto, Ontario). It is through my work at L’Arche that I have distilled some key learnings about what success entails which I would like to share with you today.

The first thing you should know about success is that although everyone defines success slightly differently, there are many key elements that are included in almost all of the definitions. Our culture prides itself at being the best at everything at any cost. It is an unfortunate reality, however, that some people are willing to sacrifice the very things that should matter most in their life (for example close friendships, dating relationships, family, and their own health) in order to achieve whatever means they feel they have to achieve in order to “be somebody.” In reality, success is knowing who you are and what is important in your life and working within your gifting to be the best person YOU can be, not someone else.

At this stage in my life I have gone to countless job interviews just as you likely have done or will do. When I go to a job interview, I simply decide to be myself. I figure that the employer will have to be working with me all year so I never say answers just because it is what they want to hear. This may sound odd as many of us are conditioned to be try to please others, however, I have found that the majority of employers have respected my honesty and I have almost always been able to receive the jobs I have applied for.  If I do not get the job I wanted, rather than becoming disappointed or comparing myself to the individual who did receive the position, I just remind myself that not receiving the job is not a reflection of my character, but rather points to some key difference in personality or fit the organization is looking for, then I go on to apply to another job that would be a better option for me.  I almost always send a follow-up email to the employer thanking them for their time in the interview and asking them what I could improve on in the future.  There have been at least two examples in my life when I have done this and the company hired me on because they could see I was interested in improving on myself and really wanted the position.  What employers are looking for is not some canned response you found online, but rather an honest opinion about how you feel about the values of their organization.

An interview is really an opportunity for the employer to get to know you, to hear about your strengths and what you can potentially bring to their business. Success involves first knowing who you are, but secondly knowing what your gifts are. All of us have different gifts and no one gift is more important than any other gift. Perhaps you have the gift of art, writing, or mathematics. Or you might be an excellent teacher, musician, or entrepreneur. Being confident in your gifts without being a show-off about them is what brings success in the working world. Sometimes people are shy to talk about their gifts because they don’t want to come off as bragging, however, if you are able to claim your gift without making others feel bad about not possessing the same skill, you will actually find that many people will agree that you have that gift rather than chastise you for being a show-off. You will also find that the more confident you are in your gift, the more recognizable it will become to others.

The second thing you should know about success is that if you want to attain it, you must be flexible. As I mentioned previously, 5 years ago I had no idea that I would be working with adults who have developmental disabilities. I never trained for this field, never studied psychology, and never even volunteered with people who have disabilities. Yet, now that I am working at L’Arche it is a great fit for me and I can’t think of anything else that would have made me happier this year. I can’t say that I am planning to be a long-term L’Arche employee, but I can definitely vouch for the fact that all the lessons I have learned here have been extremely worthwhile.

Successful people use every experience as an opportunity to grow no matter how difficult or challenging it may be. If you recently graduated you may not be able to find a job in the exact field you studied right away. This may be for a variety of reasons and it does not reflect your value as a person if you cannot land full time employment a month after graduating. In certain jobs, more experience or more maturity (age wise) may be required. I have had a few jobs that have been in my field, but prior to that I worked many minimally paying jobs in order to help offset the high cost of university tuition. Yet even though I never received any intrinsic value in making telemarketing calls or in doing maintenance, I have learned that if you want to eventually succeed in your own field, you need to develop and maintain a strong work ethic whether or not you really feel passionate about what you are doing. You need to remember that you are never “above” any type of work, especially because even for a minimal job you may eventually need the employer to write a reference letter for you and you want it to sound good. Working in something other than your field also keeps you humble and can provide a different perspective for you. In almost all jobs the skills are transferrable and working with people provides continued confidence and social skills. Yet, at the same time as you are accepting a job to gain experience and to pay the bills, I would also recommend that you remain passionate about your field and still try to get some experience in the direction that you want to be headed in. Almost all employers value volunteerism highly and in many cases volunteer references are deemed as equal or similar importance as paid work references. You can also feel free to put volunteer experience on your resume. So, if you are having difficulty landing a paying job in the field right away, I would recommend that, if possible, you try to make an effort to at least volunteer at a similar organization that shares your values for a few hours a week. In fact, there have even been times when I have started as a volunteer at an organization and they have hired me back for the summer or even offered longer term employment because I had already developed a working relationship with them. If you are a volunteer, remember to apply the same work ethic you would to paid work rather than to take it easy, because that is how you will make a great impression on your supervisor.

Lastly, success means knowing what you want out of life. Since we were young children we have been asked by teachers, parents, and church members, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” At age four the answer was fairly simple. I want to be a firefighter. I want to be a doctor. I want to be an actress. Small children are a great example to us of the fire that should still be igniting our souls and guiding our steps. To a kid, nothing is impossible and so we can dream big dreams. However, as we get older the reality of life and of school sets in and we begin to doubt that we ever had what it took to be a nurse, a teacher, or a lawyer. Yet, a successful person knows that there is great truth in having a goal and working towards it. At the same time, the successful person must be aware of their own limitations (such as personal health challenges, academic difficulties in certain areas, or conflicting personality traits) and still be able to work with rather than against the difficulties in their lives.

Although having a good career is very important, knowing what you want out of your life is so much more than just knowing whether you will work for The UN, a non-profit, or the World Bank. Knowing what you want out of life also includes knowing how family fits into the picture (whether or not you want children and how children will fit into your career), how much time you will want to pursue other passions and hobbies, and the geographical location that you want to live in. You must be sure of where you want to be headed without being so inflexible that you refuse to leave your city of choice if there are better opportunities elsewhere.

So, to re-cap: success is knowing who you are and what your gifts are. It’s being so sure of yourself that you can be confident in what you are good at without feeling like you are a show-off. It’s being honest about what you want out of life and not being afraid to share your passion and dreams with others. Success is also about being flexible and being willing to accept every opportunity regardless of how challenging or frustrating it might be as a learning experience and a chance for growth. Employers love young adults who are vibrant, dynamic, and passionate about what they have studied and learned in school, but they also value (perhaps in an even greater sense) individuals who are committed, dedicated, and have good morals and who will build up the already existing team that is there. I hope that you will find your niche in the marketplace and that you will truly excel in all that you do.


Why I Chose to Graduate from Tyndale 3 Times


Deborah-Ruth Ferber graduated with a Certificate in Christian Studies (2010) and a Bachelor’s of Religious Education (2012).  She anticipates receiving her MDiv: Pastoral Studies in May 2016.

It’s mid-April and as I look out of my room window at L’Arche I notice the flowers are just starting to bud. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been at L’Arche for an entire year. It’s even harder to believe that 2 years ago I graduated from Tyndale with my Bachelor’s of Religious Education (BRE).

To me, Tyndale has been one incredible journey after the other. It all started at frosh week when I made some of the best friends of my life who traveled with me throughout the rest of my academic career, and when I first became aware of how amazing this community was and still is. At Tyndale, I have been able to truly be myself, to develop as a leader, and to develop spiritually and relationally.

When I first started Tyndale I was a bit unsure of myself. I only had the intention of staying for a year, but after getting used to living in residence, exploring Toronto, and late nights laughing in the Kat [student lounge] I knew that this place was special. There was something that bonded me to this place and to this unique experience. Tyndale is an opportunity unlike any other. At Tyndale people are genuine in their walk with Christ. They serve Him wholeheartedly and aren’t afraid to be counter cultural. Tyndale is also so unique in that the student population is so diverse. We have many different ethnicities, many different backgrounds, and many different Theological viewpoints, and yet we can all co-exist with each other.

I chose to stay at Tyndale because I realized that although God planted me here, my spiritual journey did not just stop with planting. God also had to develop the roots that I needed to thrive in ministry which He has done through some really incredible classes, mentorship with students and faculty, and through Spiritual direction and Tyndale’s counseling services. More than that, God brought about restoration in my life and healing through accountability partners and natural free-flowing community. I’ve noticed that at Tyndale community is organic – we just let it happen naturally, it isn’t forced. That’s why whether we’re playing a friendly (or not so friendly) game of intramural hockey, having board game’s night, hanging in the dorm, or studying our brains out the night before the final exam, we can still take time for fellowship, prayer, and renewal. At Tyndale I noticed this intense prayer culture that I’ve never been able to experience since. At Tyndale when you ask someone to pray for you, they’ll actually do it! Right on the spot and they’ll follow up with you afterwards to check-in and make sure you’re doing okay. Tyndale also has a huge heart for missions and for locally and globally serving. Every decision at Tyndale is prayed over a hundred fold by students, staff, and faculty, each decision truly being entrusted into the Lord’s hands.

After I graduated with my BRE in 2012 I went to a small seminary in the States. Although the experience did have some advantages and I grew and learned a lot there, my heart always remained with Tyndale. Tyndale is one of these environments where someone can hardly know you and yet you still feel so comfortable sharing with them. Tyndale is this environment where everyone cares about you and wants the best for your life. Tyndale has always affirmed me in my future ministry and vocational goals. So I knew that Tyndale was where I needed to come back to.

This year I’ve been serving at L’Arche Daybreak (an intentional Christian community in Richmond Hill). I truly believe that had it not been for Tyndale I wouldn’t have stumbled upon L’Arche. The sense of community and love I’ve received from the core members (residents with developmental disabilities) and my ability to give and receive that love is a direct response to the acceptance I felt at Tyndale. My ability to show initiative and my ability to be supportive of my community is a direct response to first becoming aware of what community is through my 3 years at Tyndale.

I know that God is calling me back to Tyndale starting this summer and that makes me very excited! I can’t wait to once again be part of the student atmosphere and to take advantage of all the great things Tyndale has to offer. Thank you, Tyndale for being the school that you are and for shaping me to be the person that I am!

Tyndale has been an incredible time in my life, but as you are likely aware, the cost of tuition at any institution these days can be a bit hit. Tyndale’s costs of tuition are significantly higher than other schools because we are a private Christian school and do not receive money from the government. Even so, I think the benefits of Tyndale sort of even out. I mean, they give you free Spiritual direction, career counseling, personal counseling, tutoring, and have a great writing center so that’s tons of free stuff right there. And as Sheila, the director of the counseling wing at Tyndale likes to ask Frosh, “Who doesn’t like free stuff?” To help offset the cost of my tuition for the next 2 years at Tyndale, I’m asking that you please vote for me to win a financial aid award. All you have to do is just click this link and then click under my name and it will register your vote: I’ve also included a short bio underneath this blog so that you can have a better idea of who I am and why being considered for the financial aid award would really help me! Cheers!


Name: Deborah (AKA: The only panda to ever roam Tyndale)

Age: 23

Hometown: Windsor, Ontario (but a Torontonian at heart)

Program at Tyndale: MDiv Pastoral Studies (2016)

Previous Tyndale Education: Certificate in Christian Studies (2010), BRE (2012)

Favourite Things to Do In Toronto: The nature trails!

Name Your Three Favourite Things About Your Undergrad Experience: Hands-down, it’s got start with One Chapels on Sunday night (a great time for prayer, praise and fellowship), also I really enjoyed all night prayer and air bandz (that’s when the wild side of me came out and everyone thought I was some crazy hipster)

Which professor(s) really shaped and influenced your time at Tyndale: Dr. Daniel Wong is a professor who really influenced me to stay at Tyndale because of his love and enthusiasm not only for the school but for ministry in general. His classes were always very informative and fun and he really took an interest in my personal and academic development. Also Professor Bryan Dixon was another great professor who brought out my love and aptitude for teaching and always made his classes interactive.

Which Professors Are You Most Looking Forward To Having in Sem and Why: Arthur Paul Boers and Arnold Neufeld-Fast. I’m a Mennonite. Enough said.

Name a Really Cool Experience You Had With Tyndale Friends: A bunch of my Tyndale friends always showed up to my church whenever I was preaching. One time we even had 17 show up. That’s was crazy cool! Also, there was the time they threw me a surprise 20th birthday party. I almost had a heart attack in the kat.

What Are Your Future Ministry and Vocational Goals? I really want to get into hospital chaplaincy and eventually serve in a hospice setting. Also, I’m hoping to eventually get my ThM and PhD and teach full time after getting some life experiences.

In What Ways Did You Serve During Your Time at Tyndale? At Tyndale I served in a variety of ways. I was a Douloi Christou (intro to university) leader in 2010 and a leader and coordinator in 2011 (overseeing 16 other leaders). I also was a co-leader and co-founder of the Tyndale drama club and produced and co-directed a Midsummer’s Night’s Dream in 2011 raising over a grand for missions, the following year I was lead actor in Theria a student written and produced play also raising money and awareness for missions. Additionally, I helped start up a women’s prayer group on our dorm, played intramural floor hockey, served on the chapel team (drama and food prep), and was involved in a few other committees here and there. In 2012 I also had a part time student job working with the Development office as a Student Donor Steward Team Leader and also worked with Meal Exchange as a Campus Food Strategist for Tyndale. Both of those employment opportunities were more than just jobs to me, they were truly a way of ministering and giving back to the community and I was so happy to serve Tyndale in those ways.  Finally, I also showed initiative at Tyndale through helping to coordinate a play at a local nursing home, organizing a student sandwich run in downtown Toronto for the homeless population, and through getting the ball rolling for a social justice movement.

What Were You Involved In Outside Of Tyndale During Your Years as a Student: Each year I volunteered in a variety of capacities to gain experience. I volunteered at Cummer Lodge (long-term care), teaching ESL, at a pregnancy center, and at local churches. I also stayed really involved in my own church and developed preaching and teaching skills there.

What Are You Doing Right Now: Until the end of August 2015, I am living amongst adults with developmental disabilities and loving it! I’m also doing some freelance writing and blogging.  Check my publications page to see some of what I’ve written.  In the next few months there will be more links up there including a recent interview I did with the Toronto Sun on L’Arche as an intentional Christian community.

Why Winning the Award Would Help: I really want to stay committed and dedicated to Tyndale as an academic institution and as a community of faith. Winning this award would provide me with the opportunity to do just that and to free me up to spend more time serving in ministry while studying full time.