Recently, at our church, we held four men’s ministry sessions in which fifteen men serving in different callings/vocations shared what it was like for them to do their work for the glory of God. We had sessions with those in the medical field, college professors working in state/secular universities, senior leaders in large organizations, business owners, those in the insurance and financial services field and others. They shared how they are being salt and light in their workplaces. It was a great time of sharing and fellowship.
Using the Center for Faith and Work at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City as our model, during these sessions we aimed to:
- Equip individuals of all backgrounds to develop and apply a worldview for work that better serves their profession and industry.
- Connect men within a field and across industries to inspire and challenge thinking and behavior with an aim towards personal and cultural flourishing.
- Mobilize men at large to become agents of change for the common good through existing and new institutions. Find the gift that work presents us: a place with the ability to renew hearts, communities, and the world.
Some of the questions I asked our presenters were:
- What is your name and your primary vocation?
- Would you please share what it’s like to be a believer in your particular vocation?
- Do you feel that your vocation is something that the Lord has called you to?
- How do you approach your vocation differently than a non-believer in your organization might?
- Has your faith ever caused problems for you in the workplace?
- Have you ever been asked to do something in your role that you felt conflicted with your beliefs?
Here are a few reflections from these four wonderful sessions:
- Diversity of experiences. As one man, who was both a presenter and also attended each of the sessions said, the experiences of each group of presenters were very different. For example, the first group included those from the medical field (doctors and a dentist). There was an openness expressed on how their faith came through. For example, the doctors expressed that they would often pray with their patients, invite them to Christian events or to church. The dentist, who is also a business owner, plays Christian music in the office, and sees leading his 12 employees as a ministry. On the other hand, senior leaders in large organizations were more limited on what they could express about their faith in the workplace, having to express “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas” unless they knew that the recipient of the greeting was a believer.
- A sense of calling. The vast majority of the presenters felt that their current jobs were a clear calling from the Lord. They clearly saw how what they did Monday through Friday in the workplace was serving the Lord. It was also wonderful to hear the men share their stories about how the Lord has directed their paths, working in their lives to bring them to the positions they are in now.
- Sometimes living by faith in the workplace has consequences. One speaker, who is in sales, spoke about business he lost because he had The Story in his lobby. A client told him that he didn’t want to do business with someone who was so narrow-minded. After a phone call explaining how his faith helped him to provide better service and care for his clients, the relationship ended up OK, but the client still chose to take his business elsewhere.
Those are just a few of the many rich takeaways I had from the four sessions. How we integrate our faith with our work, or as pastor and author Tom Nelson says, “connect Sunday worship to Monday work”, is very important. There are now many excellent books and blogs addressing this topic. I’ve been encouraged with how my church is starting to have discussions on this issue, not only with these four sessions, but also in calling classes led by our senior pastor and a current adult Sunday School class on work and leisure led by another of our pastors. I would recommend you pursuing these conversations in your churches as well. Most of us spend much more time in our workplaces than we do with our families. Talking with others about how to do that in a way that pleases the Lord would seem to be time well spent.
Please share with us if you are doing anything in regards to faith and work in your churches.