Before working at my present job, I was a cook for five years at an Italian restaurant. If you have worked in the restaurant industry, you know that it can draw an interesting and diverse crowd of employees. During that time, I became a Christian. I never thought that I would be in a more challenging work atmosphere to share and live out my faith. While my current work atmosphere is really nothing like the restaurant (I work at Fortune 500 company), I have found an entirely new set of challenges in living out my faith at work. The truth is, there are always challenges to carrying the gospel message in a fallen world, regardless of the context.
The corporate world presents a unique veneer of professionalism, ethics, and propriety. But in reality, the guts of the day-to-day in a corporate job can be quite challenging. There are myriad moral conundrums that come up in an office. We are faced with temptations to gossip and engage in malicious chatter when others aren’t around. Many are faced with struggles with the opposite sex. The challenge for Christians is to represent the gospel well at any job.
So how do we represent Jesus well in the workplace? Here are a five ways to grace your workplace.
1. Be bold but smart. Consider Paul’s boldness before Felix in Acts 24 or Jesus’ words on being brought before governors and kings in Matthew 10. Just because we are at work, we are never exempt from the call on our lives to make much of him. However, we must be smart and keep in mind passages like 1 Peter 2:13: “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution.” At work, we are subject to our bosses and to the leader or leaders of the company. So be bold, but keep in mind where you are.
2. Take risks. I realize this point somewhat contradicts the last one, but the Christian life rests in that tension between risk and prudence. Take steps in work friendships to bring up Jesus. I am a relational evangelist, meaning I like to establish some type of friendship and then bring up Jesus. I am rarely the “can I tell you about Jesus?” guy. My temptation is to never actually bring up Jesus, or to do so in softened ways. Risk a friendship, risk a promotion, risk not “fitting in,” or maybe even risk your job if God would call you to that sacrifice. Of course, we don’t want to be reckless just for the sake of being reckless.
3. Pray for your enemies. Make it a practice to pray for the people who don’t seem to like you, who you don’t really get along with, or who just always seem to have something snarky to say to or about you. This is incredibly hard, which is why you need to rely on the Spirit. You will also discover God ministering to you even as you pray. Pray for them, for their families, and for their kids. Most importantly, pray for their relationship with Jesus.
4. Use your gift(s). I am a teacher/pastor type. I usually go into a teaching or pastoral mode at some point during my faith encounters with coworkers. The church is still the church both gathered and scattered. While at work we continue to be part of the church scattered, and in the church we are called to use our gifts to build up the body. Pray about and find a way to use your gift(s). Start a Bible study; start a prayer group; take people’s prayer requests and pray for them; give of your time, talents, or treasures to those in need. Do whatever it takes to be a reconciling minister of the gospel (2 Cor. 5:18-20).
5. Work hard. Be on time, care about your job, follow the rules, get your work done, and help others. Of course, nonbelievers can be good employees, too. What makes us different is really captured in the household codes from many of the epistles. “Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust” (1 Pet. 2:18). We should be that “good” employee no matter whom we work for, what the conditions are, and/or whether we like the job. In sharing these sufferings of Christ, light they may be, we can make much of Christ by working hard with integrity. Never let laziness or grumbling be your calling card.
May God bless us as we seek to serve and make much of Christ in all areas of our lives!
“To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.” (Col. 1:27-29)
Nick Abrahamholds anMDiv from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He lives in Navarre, Ohio, with his wife and daughter. He and his family are praying about planting a church in the future. He currently works full-time at Smuckers (the jelly people).