While many media figures blame Christians for today’s problems, one NBC anchor is testifying to the impact God made on his career as a journalist.
Nightly News anchor Lester Holt recently opened up about his faith in the September issue of Guideposts magazine. Among other things, Holt grew up going to church regularly, knowing his Bible and even leading his church in song as a teenager. Today, while Holt doesn’t share his faith on air, he still hopes “it permeates what I do” as one of the nation’s leading anchors.
— Guideposts (@guideposts) August 24, 2017
From the beginning of his piece for the magazine, Holt stressed his religious upbringing.
“A strong faith and a strong work ethic were what I grew up with,” he wrote. “Church on Sundays? No arguing about that.”
His parents actively lived their faith, he said.
“My parents were two-times-on-Sunday-and-Bible-study-on-Wednesdays folks, and they remain faithful,” he said. “Dad was an elder in the church and a natural-born counselor … I can recall him holed up for hours on the phone or behind closed doors helping someone through a personal crisis.”
As a journalist, Holt acknowledged that both his parents and his faith provided a firm foundation for his career.
“It was a good upbringing for a future journalist,” he revealed, “not just the faith aspect but being around someone who was such a good listener.”
Besides exemplifying “strong values and a reliable moral compass,” his parents provided him with a “good grounding in the Bible.” His church also played a role.
“I credit my church upbringing, in part, with helping me become comfortable working in front of a crowd,” he continued. “Valuable training for a future broadcaster.”
As a teenager, he “got used to being on the spot” by leading his church in singing with a Sacred Selections hymnal. He credited that with helping “build my character and personality.”
But now, he says, “usually in church, I’m content to sit and worship.”
“If you asked me what I feel sitting in the pews, I’d put it in one word: grateful,” he said. “I have been so fortunate, so blessed. My wife, my marriage, my kids, my work. I’ve never lost my appreciation for all I’ve been given.”
But that doesn’t mean he’s had it easy. While covering the deathly 2010 earthquake in Haiti with NBC, Holt reevaluated his career as a journalist.
“When asked to speak about being a journalist, I often stressed how important compassion was in the work,” he said. “But what about when you had to face an overwhelming tragedy like Haiti’s, where you investigate it, report it and then move on?”
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His worst fear was that his reporting harmed instead of helped.
“My God, I thought, I don’t ever want to be in a position of exploiting people’s suffering. Was that what I was doing?” he asked.
While he turned to prayer, he still sought assurance that “our work helped rather than hindered.” He turned to a counselor for guidance:
The counselor I met with asked, ‘What would have happened if you hadn’t gone to Haiti? What if no one had covered that story? What if the devastation hadn’t appeared anywhere and people knew nothing about it?’
I thought back to all the donations people made and were still making. All those huge transport planes that landed at the airfield, even when we were still there, delivering medicine, food, water, clothes. What if no one had reported the story?
No one would know.
“This was my calling; this was what I was expected to do,” he concluded after speaking with the counselor. “To shine a light in dark places. To give a voice to the voiceless. To make the invisible visible. That light illuminates our condition as human beings.”
Today, one of the ways he accomplishes that is through his regular segment “Inspiring America.” Holt admitted that he’s “incredibly proud” of his segment that aims to “shine a light on all the good that goes on in our country.”
“We’ve highlighted a man who sews flags for military caskets, a boy who helps disabled people navigate public spaces and a girl who travels around the country hugging police officers,” he explained. “It is both an honor and a duty to spread this good news.”
But, regardless of how his life has changed, Holt insisted, “I’m still very much my parents’ kid.”
His faith, he said, “is not something I share on the air, though I hope it permeates what I do.” And, sometimes, he’ll drop a hint for his audience.
“When I was working on the Weekend Today show a couple of years ago, I mentioned on air that I had to hustle after leaving the studio to get to worship on time,” he said.
“I don’t know what viewers thought,” he added, “but Mom was quick to say, ‘Lester, you just showed the world that you are not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ.’”