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Why We Should Look at Isaiah the Prophet this Christmas

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In the run up to Christmas we Christians traditionally lament the triumph of materialism over the triumphant entry of our Saviour into this world.

The Bible as we all know has a lot to say about Christ’s birth - perhaps some of the most famous appearing in the Old Testament book of Isaiah.

The book, written by Isaiah son of Amoz (1:1) should be especially loved by those work in the media because of the sheer beauty of its language and its stirring predictions – 700 years before Christ’s birth – of His entry into the world.

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory. (6:3)

Therefore the Lord himself will give you[a] a sign: The virgin[b] will conceive and give birth to a son, and[c] will call him Immanuel. (7:14)

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. ((9:6)

We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all. (53;6)

Like most prophets, Isaiah announced the bad news of punishment for sin. But he also described a coming Messiah who would be “wounded for our transgressions… bruised for our iniquities… and with his stripes we are healed (53:5)

Called to the ministry through a stunning vision of God in heaven, Isaiah wrote a book that some have called the “fifth gospel” for its predictions of the birth, life and death of Jesus Christ some 700 years later.

The prophecies of redemption offset some of Isaiah’s more depressing promises of God’s discipline against Judah and Jerusalem, which were overrun by Babylonian armies about a century later.

Isaiah’s prophecy ends with a long section (chapters 40-66) describing God’s restoration of Israel, His promised salvation and His eternal kingdom.

Early in His ministry, Jesus said that he fulfilled the prophecies of Isaiah. “The Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord (61:1-2)

The purpose of the book of Isaiah is to demonstrate the trustworthiness of the Lord. The first king whom Isaiah serves, Ahaz, did not trust the Lord. He ignored Isaiah’s advice and followed his own schemes.

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This led to defeat and servitude at the hands of the Assyrians. Ahaz’s son Hezekiah, in contrast, trusted the Lord and Jerusalem was delivered from Sennacherib and the Assyrians. In the second half of the book the exiles were also encouraged to trust the Lord to bring deliverance and to respond like Hezekiah, not like Ahaz.

A significant theme is the hope in a future ideal Davidic king. The book provides a template for Messianic expectation as it develops a profile of God’s plan, including the exaltation of Jerusalem (see Isa 2), the coming child who is to reign (see Isa 9), peace and stability of the reign of the Davidic heir (see Isa 11), and how the ideal Servant of the Lord will carry out God’s mission (see Isa 42–53).

That much is fairly well known about Isaiah, but there are other less well known – but no less interesting things – about him:

  • He had two children with strange prophetic names. Shear-jashub (7:3) means “a remnant shall return” and Maher-shalal-hash-baz (8:3) means “haste to the spoil”.

  • Shear-jashub’s name carried God’s promise that Jews would one-day return home.

  • Maher-shalal-hash-baz’s name assured the king of Judah that his country’s enemies would be dealt with by Assyrian armies.

This Christmas, as we relax with our families, it’s worth thinking about Isaiah and his prophecies as an antidote to the materialism of the age.

Alastair Tancred, Editor for Christians in Media


Don’t forget the call to arms this Sunday!

This Sunday (04 November) has been especially designated by churches and Christians across the UK as a time to pray for all those who work in the media. 

The Day of Prayer for the Media has been supported by Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, and Nicky Gumbel, Vicar of Holy Trinity Brompton, London, and pioneer of The Alpha Course.

We at Christians in the Media urge you not to forget or ignore this day.

Why? Because Journalists and those who work in the media play a crucial role in society. That is the case today more than ever as Brexit-facing Britain grapples with important decisions that will have long term consequences.

Information is power and it is our job if we are to glorify God to disseminate it impartially, fairly, independently and with balance.

If we fail to fulfil our responsibilities in this area, the consequences can be catastrophic. I write this to you from Bangladesh - a country where journalists who express dissenting views against the government face severely unpleasant consequences. The fate of world renowned photographer Shahidul Alam - arrested and allegedly tortured in August after posting live videos on Facebook that criticised the government - are testament to that.

So let’s not take for granted the relative freedom our media enjoys in Britain. Our Lord told us to go out into the world and make disciples of all nations, and for many of us in the media that call begins at home. That means we must not be afraid to reflect Christ’s values in the awesome role we bear as messengers to the British people.

Add your prayers on social media this Sunday using the tag #pray4media.

Alastair Tancred, Christians in Media Editor

5 Traits of a Good Leader

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In your role within the media industry, you have the opportunity to be a trusted voice for God, glorifying Jesus in what you say and do. Below are five qualities that good leaders possess. Will you aspire to and work towards these?

1. You ask God what His vision is

Ask God what His hopes and plans are for you and your area of responsibility. If you’re leading a team, ask Him to guide you in your relationships with the people reporting to you. If you’re developing a new script, ask for creativity, imagination and divine inspiration.

Listen intently to the heartbeat of God. Remember that you can’t do everything, so commit to acting on specific things God speaks to you about, and pray that others will rise to lead in those areas of the media where you cannot reach

2. You listen and serve

Ask your team members what they think needs to be done and research your area of expertise. What processes should be maintained and what practices should be changed? Are there communities underrepresented in your newspaper? Are there workflow processes that are inhibiting, not aiding, your team’s ability to work?

See the need, understand the challenges, and do something about it. Don’t let goals and outcomes become so consuming that you forget to serve the people you lead.

3. You take responsibility

Servant leadership shouldn’t be a passive activity, waiting until someone else asks you to do something before you act. A good servant leader will be proactive, intentionally stepping into the gap and taking action where it is needed. They are not power-hungry, but nor do they wait for instructions; they use their initiative and act on behalf of those they lead, where others might walk away.

If a colleague in your production crew or social media team falls ill, can you offer to temporarily take over their workload? Refuse to give in to the idea that it is always someone else’s problem – if you leave it to someone else you’ll be left following their vision instead of God’s.

4. You never stop learning

Good leaders learn from people who have gone before them, from those at the chalk face who they are leading, and from their own experiences, good and bad. Is there an experienced press officer, photographer or producer who you could ask to be your mentor? Everything won’t go right all at once; be humble enough to acknowledge areas for growth and then build your competency in that area.

Learn and grow by doing. Hebrews 11 is a list of ‘heroes’ of faith – scared people who felt unprepared and had made bad decisions in the past. But they trusted God enough to step out in faith and begin doing what He had called them to do. If you have the opportunity to work on a new project outside of your comfort zone, ask God if this is an opportunity for you to learn and grow.

5. You speak out

When something needs to be said, step up to the microphone. This applies to those who have an external audience, such as journalists and presenters, as well as those who don’t, for example sound technicians, camera operators, and the like. Has your documentary work given you a heart for a social justice issue you could champion? Is there an internal matter, perhaps a damaged relationship in your team, where you could play a role of reconciliation and peace?

You serve under the authority of God and are committed to speaking with that authority into the place to which God has called you. But make sure you speak with wisdom and the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and not rashly or in anger (Proverbs 13:3, James 1:19).

Earn the right to lead and speak by establishing credibility: work hard, know the facts, and demonstrate your commitment.

Abi Jarvis is Public Leadership coordinator at the Evangelical Alliance. Find out more at thepublicleader.com, @PublicLeaderUK on Facebookand Twitter, or email hello@thepublicleader.com

How To: Crack the Media Job Hunt

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Applying for your first or even fourteenth job in the media is never easy. Be it in PR, journalism, production or digital, our industry is notoriously competitive and ever-evolving, with an abundance of talent on tap.

So how can you increase your chances of being given a chance?

We’ve put together a checklist for those looking for their first job or a new opportunity.

The CV

Keep your CV visually clean and simple, with space between each section so it feels like a relief from the rest of the clutter on a recruiter’s computer screen, experts advise.

Younger applicants tend to throw in too much detail, leading to a dense document cluttered with irrelevancies. It’s better to have a lean, one-page CV than two pages of filler for a recruiter to struggle through.

Media applicants also tend to have chequered careers, Gavin Ricketts recently wrote in The Guardian, changing jobs regularly as they move between projects and working in a variety of roles.

“A compelling personal statement at the top of a CV that brings all this experience into a coherent description of you and your career aspirations, often works well,” he writes.

“The first sentence should introduce the role you’re looking for or the vacancy, if you’re responding to a specific advert. Next describe what experience you’ve gained to help you in that role, and finally write a sentence to show that you’re quietly confident, responsible, alert and willing to take on whatever task the job requires.

“Finish with a little about your ambitions, remembering to be clear that you don’t expect to get there at lightning speed. For instance: “I eventually want to be a producer, so I’m looking for production assistant roles to lay down a good foundation of experience first.”

“You need to communicate that you can work well with others, but don’t rely on simply stating: “I can work as part of a team” – a cliché long overdue for retirement.”

Ricketts advises job seekers instead to demonstrate where they’ve worked in a team, even if it was in part-time work while studying. For example: “I was one of seven shop floor staff, we worked as a team to make sure all customers were given the help they needed”.

The covering letter

“When you write your covering letter, you should never claim to be the perfect candidate,” Ricketts advises. “For me, that is the kiss of death. Being the perfect candidate is not just about ticking all the requirement boxes, it’s also about how you fit into the company.

“So instead of saying you’re the best person for the job, try this subtly different, more modest opening line: “I am excited to be applying for this role. Not only do the requirements match my skills and experience, but I am confident that this is a job I would really enjoy.”

“This way, you’re saying you have the right skills, but you’ve left it to the employer to decide whether you’re right for the team.

“Think of the application process as the beginning of a conversation between you and the employer. Creative organisations tend to be informal in the way they talk to each other, so if your CV and covering letter have a friendly but professional tone of voice – as though you’d just met your next boss in person – your application will come to life.

“The more human and approachable your application, the more they’ll want to meet you in person.”

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Preparing for the interview

Aside from making sure you look professional, and you are on time – two things you must do – you want to make sure you’ve studied the right topics to ensure the interviewer doesn’t stump you on any questions, Rachel Deahl in thebalancecareers.com advises.

“Although you shouldn’t think of an interview as an antagonistic situation — most interviewers aren’t trying to test you or catch you off-guard — you don’t want to draw a blank when you’re asked a question. For this reason, you should study up on a few things, and come up with answers to potential questions, before the big day,” she writes.

“One of the biggest pet peeves you will hear editors and hiring managers complain about, when it comes to interviewing, is talking to candidates who don’t know their company or their publication,” she advises.

For example, candidates seeking a job on a magazine should be prepared for questions such as: If you were going to write a story for us tomorrow, what would it be about?’ That requires knowing the publication inside out, Deahl says.

“It won’t do to simply know that Sports Illustrated simply covers sports or that Entertainment Weekly covers entertainment. You need to know specific stories the magazine published recently and you need to know the recurring sections of the magazine.”

How to Make Sure You Have the Right Answers

“The best way to prepare for a media interview is to study your potential employer,” Deahl advises. “If you’re interviewing for an editorial spot at a magazine, grab a bunch of back issues and go over them. Decide what you might change –  if you had the chance – by figuring out the sections you like and decide why you like them. Find stories you like and take note of them.

“Pay particular attention to getting things straight in your head. One thing that notoriously drives editors and others in the field crazy is mistaking them for their competition.”

Keep your cool

At the end of the day remember it’s just an interview. “If you can try to keep things in perspective, and not put too much pressure on yourself, it’s often easier to stay calm,” Deahl recommends. “Go in confident and calm. If you believe in yourself, and speak with confidence, employers will pick up on it”.

Dispel the myths

The Guardian recently published six myths about getting a career in the TV and media industry which are worth noting.

  • You’ll spend all of your time partying with celebrities– For every music or film festival you attend, there will always be plenty of accompanying strategy meetings to ensure the event goes without a hitch. Expect to work hard. The good news is that all the hard work is worth it
     
  • You’ll spend years in unpaid positions making the tea – Companies are increasingly recognising how integral upcoming talent is to their success. Rather than wasting the fresh insight and perspective new talent can bring, media firms are offering the chance for those without a great deal of direct work experience to get involved with exciting projects
     
  • It’s not about what you know, it’s who you know – Knowing the right people is likely to prove useful in any industry and media is no exception. Despite this, it’s a very outdated to view access to the industry as something predominately decided by nepotism
     
  • You need a media degree from a top university – Media is a hugely diverse industry with many types of roles but only some normally require a degree for a new entrant. While a higher level qualification is a very valuable tool to demonstrate willingness to work hard, commitment to a given task and potentially, a genuine interest in a given sector of the media, there are other ways to exhibit these things
  • To progress, you’ll need to bombard companies with CVs – The CV is one way to get on to a potential employer’s radar, but this should always form part of a broader strategy. The media business is powered by creativity and innovation and if you can show this through the way you search and apply for new roles, all the better. Be prepared to send examples of work – showcase things like your photography and design efforts, on Instagram and or Tumblr, and tweet links to articles you’ve written
  • You have a lot to learn and nothing to offer – People sometimes say something is only a cliche because it’s true, but in this case, the constant advice given to young people entering the media world – that they have a lot to learn and should spend their time soaking up as much information as possible – is only partly true. Of course, young people entering the media industry do have a lot to learn and the early period of their careers will involve them spending time gaining vital skills. However, the media industry doesn’t stand still and it is only through the contribution of upcoming young talent – digital natives who often possess real flair for things like social media – that companies are able to stay ahead of the curve