Work is commended in the Bible as a good thing. It is both a privilege and a blessing. But many of those we work with, and perhaps some of us, view it as a necessary evil. Most don’t look at their work as a vocation, a calling or even a career. No, it’s just a job. Many feel that there is “sacred” or “religious” work and everything else is “secular work”, and that secular work is a necessary evil, just to pay the bills, support your family, and have the resources to support God’s mission. Others may see the workplace as a mission field, and they use their position to evangelize non-believing co-workers.
Is it right to share your faith at work? That depends. If you work at Chick Fil-A or Hobby Lobby, organizations that are open about honoring and glorifying God, it may not be a problem. However, at the organization I worked at, and perhaps at yours as well, sharing your faith at work could have serious negative consequences for you.
The most challenging time of my nearly 38-year career was a result of my speaking openly about my faith. Without going into details, a comment I made landed me in Human Resources, and among other disciplinary action I was required to complete diversity training.Christians need to remember to honor their employers. Sharing your faith when you should be working is not being a good witness and does not honor Christ. It is also stealing from your employer. Christians should be the best workers because we are doing our work for the Lord.
Having said that, we must remember that we live our lives Coram Deo, in the presence of, and before the face of God. The Christian life is not just lived out on Sunday, but also Monday through Friday in our workplaces. If you want to share your faith in the workplace, do it over lunch, during breaks or off the job. Don’t do it on worktime.
A more “silent witness” I did was to keep my Bible among leadership books on my credenza. And I often asked if I could pray for co-workers or their family members, and then added them to my prayer list.
In their helpful book Workplace Grace: Becoming a Spiritual Influence at Work, Bill Peel and Walt Larimore tell us that we can be pipelines of God’s grace to people who would never darken the door of a church. They tell us that becoming a person of spiritual influence is every Christian’s calling–not just the responsibility of a gifted few. They introduce us to a helpful model of evangelism – cultivating, planting, harvesting and multiplying, each with appropriate activities on our part that match the spiritual needs of those we interact with at work. They write that evangelism is a process, not an event, and wisely state that each of us must think carefully about the best way to make Christ known in the workplace, given the particular limitations and constraints where we work.
Below are a few of my takeaways from this helpful book:
Cultivation. This phase is about earning the right to be a spiritual influence in someone’s life. The goal of this phase is to break down emotional barriers by earning trust and creating curiosity about our faith.
In evangelism, a story is a potent yet understated way to communicate truth without confrontation. Telling a story about a personal experience with God or about how a principle in the Bible changed our lives, family, or career, can resonate with an unbeliever’s longings, and allow us to connect on an emotional level.
The authors introduce us to “faith flags” and “faith stories”. A Faith Flag is a brief mention or statement about God, the Bible, or prayer in the natural course of conversation that communicates we have a spiritual dimension. A Faith Story is another powerful way to communicate truth in an inviting form. It briefly describes a particular instance when we had an encounter with God or a time when we learned an important spiritual lesson. It lets the listener see how God is at work, making a meaningful and practical difference in our lives.
Planting. In this phase, nonbelievers begin to view the Bible from a different perspective and consider how it might be personally relevant. The goal of this phase is not to win arguments, but for nonbelievers to gain understanding. The Planting phase of evangelism is about scattering seeds of truth in heart soil that has been cultivated and softened.
Making Disciples. The authors tell us that in the Great Commission (Matthew 28: 18-20), Jesus did not mandate that we sign up new recruits or volunteers for His kingdom agenda, He told us to make disciples. The New Testament is a book about disciples, by disciples and for disciples of Jesus. Learning to read and study the Bible, both personally and with other believers, is essential to the spiritual growth of new believers.
Prayer. The authors tell us that each phase of the evangelism process – from cultivating to planting to harvesting – depends on prayer. We do our part in cultivating, planting, praying for the harvest and seeking His guidance. The rest is in His hands.
Workplace Grace is a very useful and practical book that shows Christians that God values their work, and how they can shine His light in their workplace.
What experience have you had sharing your faith in the workplace?