To Client Administrator, Derek McArthur, Christianity is so much more than a religion; it’s about being the best person he can be and helping those less fortunate.
For many of us, placing faith in someone – or something – gives us a framework that helps us to live our lives in a certain way. For Derek McArthur, a Client Administrator at Baillie Gifford, faith came in the shape of Christianity and allowing God to come into his life. In this article, Derek shares his experience of the religion and how he uses the Bible’s guiding principles to help others.
Tell us about your background
I’ve lived in Edinburgh for most of my life, other than a brief spell in Aberdeen for university. I was born with Achondroplasia, meaning I had a normal length back but greatly reduced bone length in my legs and the tops of my arms. However, I got the opportunity to have an operation which added almost eight inches to my legs. This was a blessing, as although I spent a lot of my childhood in and out of hospital, this procedure has allowed me to do things that I may not have been able to otherwise, such as play sports and drive cars without any adjustments.
What is Christianity and why do you choose to practice it?
I believe that Christianity is a one-to-one relationship with God, rather than a religion. I was brought up in a Christian home, where I was taken to church and encouraged to read the Bible and pray. However, the decision to truly let God into my life came when I was 14-years-old, and following complications during an operation, my life hung in the balance. That experience gave me a lot to consider.
I am a member of Bruntsfield Evangelical Church (BEC), which like many churches around the city, has moved with the times. Gone are the stereotypical preconceptions around dress code, music and presentation style; all are welcome.
As well as BEC, I also attend St Paul’s and St George’s (otherwise called Ps and Gs) on a Sunday evening, as part of the work I do with the Ferrywell Youth Project.
What do you get out of it?
It gives me a solid set of principles to live my life by. Additionally, it gives me perspective. I believe that there is something beyond our life on Earth, which can be helpful in taking a long-term view, especially if the short-term is tumultuous.
Baillie Gifford has a diverse workforce in terms of individual’s values and beliefs, and while everyone may not always be in agreement, it’s important to try to respect our colleagues’ views and opinions, and take the opportunity to engage in conversations that positively challenge why we hold our own values and beliefs.
Has your faith supported you during difficult times?
Very much so. It has brought me a support network through my relationship with God and the congregations at BEC and Ps and Gs. And it goes further than that – I can go to any church in the world and I’ll immediately have a basis from which to forge new relationships.
As a result of my Achondroplasia I have come across some narrow minded people. Fortunately, I’ve been blessed with a circle of friends that have often protected me from that kind of behaviour.
How do you use your faith to help others?
I believe that I have a responsibility to support those less fortunate than me, so I volunteer at the Ferrywell Youth Project. Founded by BEC around 20 years ago, the project supports young people in the Pilton, Muirhouse and Drylaw areas of Edinburgh. I see it as a privilege to work with these young people, who often don’t have any support network at home. While we are a Christian project, our focus isn’t just on getting young people into the faith. Instead, we encourage them to make better choices and organise a range of activities for them to take part in. This includes a weekly youth club, activities and excursions. Some of the group choose to come to church on a Sunday evening and others don’t – we leave it entirely up to the young people as to whether or not they want to attend.
What can we all learn from Christianity?
When Jesus was considering the 10 Commandments, he summarised them in two different ways. The first was to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul. The second was to love your neighbour as yourself. While I would love to see everyone take the step towards the first point, I appreciate that may not happen. However, we can all learn from the second point and do more to adopt that way of thinking. Baillie Gifford has a diverse workforce in terms of individual’s values and beliefs, and while everyone may not always be in agreement, it’s important to try to respect our colleagues’ views and opinions, and take the opportunity to engage in conversations that positively challenge why we hold our own values and beliefs.