“I lived in fear and insecurity. Quiet and hesitant to make friends, school and church were uncomfortable environments.” – Chris Hatley
“Self-focused and pride-driven – apart from Christ, that’s truly who I am,” said Chris Hatley.“I used to let fear and insecurity define me. In school, I found my identity in my academic accomplishments. I focused all my attention on myself, rather than on the Lord and on others. But life wasn’t about me. Life was about Jesus. That was the most freeing thing I could ever hear. Only the Lord could put to death my prideful opinions on how I thought things should be. God could change my heart and make me His.
“Growing up in Albuquerque, my parents clearly displayed the gospel to me. I attended a church that preached God’s Word faithfully. But, I lived in fear and insecurity. Quiet and hesitant to make friends, school and church were uncomfortable environments. Though Christ and His Word fell often on my ears, I fearfully retreated from true comprehension and application.
“In high school I went to a Christian summer camp, and that week, the Lord started to change my life. I heard the gospel framed in a way that made sense. I learned that life didn’t have to be about me – it’s really about Jesus. That was the most empowering, encouraging, world-transforming message I’ve ever heard. If life wasn’t about me, it wasn’t about my feelings of fear and awkwardness or how many friends I had. Because my life was about Christ, those things no longer defined me. I asked God to change my heart and make me His own.
“After that I wanted to be known by others, and I started making friends. I met people who pointed me to the Lord, and I now had ears to hear and eyes to see all that was true of Christ. As I moved toward college, I saw the treasure I had in Christ and God’s Word.
“But even as a new creation, I was still a prideful perfectionist. I thought grades and where I went to college still defined my worth. However, I didn’t see that struggle for what it really was – pride. At times, perfectionism made my life all about me again. The consequence of perfectionism was striving for success without reliance on the Lord. There was no real contentment in that way of living.
“I initially went to college thinking I’d study neuroscience. But soon I developed a desire to work in full-time ministry. I left the University of Arizona and went to a Bible school in Northern England for a while. That’s where I realized my passion for teaching, living on-mission, and talking to people about Jesus. When I got back to the U.S., I got involved with a church plant and fell in love with the local church. More recently, I moved to Texas and stumbled across Watermark through a friend’s recommendation. I’ve spent the last year in the Residency at Watermark, which has presented a whirlwind of opportunities to grow in Christ. I saw ministry in a way I did not think possible.
“College is framed as this transitional period when students can define who they are. They are making big decisions about their careers and how they will choose to live as they move into adulthood. So, I think the greatest need among the students we serve is for them to know that they can define their lives and decisions in the truth of God’s Word. The Watermark College Ministry gets to speak truth into those decisions and explain that they are not surrendering a better life by following Jesus. Living for Christ is the fullest, best life possible.
“I’ve found that true in my own life. It’s incorrect to think we have to somehow separate our life with Christ from the culture around us. Christ died to tear down this divide. The Lord’s truth breathes into every aspect of life in this world, from neuroscience and psychology to college sports. It’s always tempting for me to put the Lord into a box, but the Lord must inform my interest, ideas, and every word I write. The gospel is relevant to it all.
“Pride and self-obsession continue to be struggles, and I’m often tempted to find a false security in self-sufficiency. However, I have community and companions who call out my pride as something that must be warred against. Pride isn’t something you silently deal with. It is brought into the open. It’s a discussion topic with my community, my fiancé, and with other friends. I’m constantly reminded that none of us are successful because of our accomplishments – it’s all about the Lord and our faithfulness to Him.
“I know that, apart from Christ, insecurity and fear would define me again. Every good gift or positive characteristic in my life today is a result of the Lord. And life itself is never about me. Life is about Jesus.”