Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

How Can We Be Salt and Light in the Workplace?


In his “Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew chapter 6, Jesus calls his disciples to be the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world”:  
You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Hugh Whelchel, in his article “Jesus Showed Us That Being Salt and Light is True Power” shares this quote from John Stott about being the salt of the earth and light of the world:
“The world, he says, is like rotting meat. But you are to be the world’s salt. The world is like a dark night, but you are to be the world’s light. This is the fundamental difference between the Christian and the non-Christian, the church and the world.”
What does it mean to be salt and light in the workplace? In his book Living Salty and Light-Filled Lives in the Workplace , Luke Bobo tells us that work is the most logical and likely place where Christians should be making the greatest impact. Salty and light-filled workers influence their peers; they push back the effects of sin and expose darkness.  When we live salty and light-filled lives in the workplace, others will witness or see our good works and give God our Father praise.As a believer, you are salt, which means that you inhibit decay, and add flavor. You are also light, which means that you dispel the darkness, and illuminate the way so others can see. Russell Gehrlein in his book Immanuel Labor—God’s Presence in Our Profession: A Biblical, Theological, and Practical Approach to the Doctrine of Work, writes that “We must shine the light of Christ in dark places and become part of His work to bring common grace to all who are made in His image”.

How can we be salt and light in the workplace? Here are 10 ways I found to do so:

  • Be a Servant Leader. An important aspect of servant leadership is putting the needs and interests of others above your own. You can demonstrate that aspect of servant leadership whether or not you are in a formal leadership position.
  • Do excellent work. Christians should be the best workers. We glorify God when we give credit to Him for what we achieve, rather than claiming the credit for ourselves.
  • Maintain a high level of integrity in all your actions. Former football coach Tony Dungy has said that dishonesty will eventually catch up with you. We can’t control our reputation (what others think of us), but we can control our integrity.
  • Be a person of character and trust. My favorite definition of character is “doing the right thing when nobody is watching”. Trust is closely related to character. I would tell new team members that they have my trust, that’s how we would start our relationship. They didn’t have to earn it. It was up to them to lose it.
  • Be a role model. Dungy wrote in his book The Mentor Leader that right or wrong, someone is always watching you, and that it’s important to see yourself as a role model.
  • Serve as a mentor. I see mentoring, or discipling as it is sometimes called in the church, as a way of giving back and pouring myself into others, just as my career mentor poured himself into me.
  • Point people to Christ. Our lives at work should point others to Christ. In some cases, you might be able to develop relationships and actually share the gospel with those you work with (but not on work time). We should always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks us for the reason for the hope that is in us. (1 Peter 3:15).
  • Get to know your team members or co-workers well. As a leader I wanted to serve those that I was privileged to lead. In order to serve them you need to know them. That’s why my initial “Meet and Greet” with them was always about them personally, and not about work. How can you effectively lead someone if you don’t first know about them and what is important to them?
  • Consistently demonstrate a positive attitude and approach. A positive attitude has always been something that is very important to me. I find that I am weakened and drained when I am around negative people. Dr. Alan Zimmerman, whose “Tuesday Tip”, I’ve been reading for years, says that a negative attitude is just as contagious as the common cold. We can’t afford to catch it.
  • Pray for those you will interact with each day. As I would drive into work each morning, I prayed for those that I knew I would encounter that day in meetings. I prayed that I would shine Christ’s light, representing Him, and serve others well.

There are many other items that we could add to this list, such as demonstrating empathy, kindness and compassion to co-workers, showing humility, and being mindful of the words we use in conversations at work. What would you add to this list of how we can be salt and light in the workplace?

Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence – married to my best friend Tammy, a graduate of Covenant Seminary, St. Louis Cardinals fan, formerly a manager at a Fortune 50 organization, and in leadership at my local church. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people develop, and to use their strengths to their fullest potential. I am an INTJ on Myers-Briggs, 3 on the Enneagram, my top five Strengthsfinder themes are: Belief, Responsibility, Learner, Harmony, and Achiever, and my two StandOut strength roles are Creator and Equalizer. My favorite book is the Bible, with Romans my favorite book of the Bible, and Colossians 3:23 and 2 Corinthians 5:21 being my favorite verses. Some of my other favorite books are The Holiness of God and Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul, and Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. I enjoy music in a variety of genres, including modern hymns, Christian hip-hop and classic rock. My book Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace and Tammy’s book Study, Savor and Share Scripture: Becoming What We Behold are available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon.

2 thoughts on “How Can We Be Salt and Light in the Workplace?

  1. Pray for those you will interact with each day. This is vital for developing a Christian mindset, especially when you work with unbelievers and people who need the gospel. May the Lord continue to bless your ministry!

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