Recently, I shared what it was like for me to serve the Lord as a leader in a large and diverse IT department at a Fortune 50 company (Click here to read Part 1). How do I try to live for Jesus in the workplace? How do I use the platform He has given me? How do I shine His Light to others? How do I try to integrate my faith and my work?
Here are 8 more ways in which I have personally tried to integrate my faith with my work, and you can as well:
- See Jesus as Your Supervisor. John Piper’s article “Lord Focused Living at Work” from his book A Godward Life, was key for me on this. Piper suggests we ask the following questions: Why would the Lord like this done? How would the Lord like this done? When would the Lord like this done? Will the Lord help me do this? What affect will this have for the Lord’s honor? Piper states that “What you are asked to do by a supervisor should generally be viewed as an appeal from the Lord.” I would agree, adding “unless they ask you to do something God prohibits, or prohibit you from doing something God commands”.
- Keep work in its proper perspective. Sebastian Traeger and Greg Gilbert write in their book The Gospel at Work: How Working for King Jesus Gives Purpose and Meaning to Our Jobs, that we should never be idle in our work, nor should we make work an idol. In other words, we should not be idle at work, but instead do excellent work. On the other hand, we should not make work an idol by being a workaholic, placing work and career above our family and church responsibilities. A good balance is needed.
- 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, of course). We should always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in us. (1 Peter 3:15).
- Have a Teachable Spirit. David Murray has written that the one characteristic that separates the successful from the unsuccessful in every walk of life is teachability. He states that those who are teachable and remain so usually succeed, while the unteachable usually fail. He goes on to say that it doesn’t matter how much talent and gifting we have. If we are unteachable, we will never reach our full potential in the various facets of our lives – Christian growth, callings, relationships, etc. There are many areas of life in which we need a humble and teachable spirit and certainly the workplace is one of them.
- Get to Know Your Team Members Well. As a leader I want to serve those that I am privileged to lead. I often say that I am blessed to work with people for only a short period of time and then either they or I move on to another assignment. In order to serve them you need to know them. That’s why my initial “Meet and Greet” with them is all 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 Demonstrating a Positive Attitude and Approach. A positive attitude has always been something that is very important to me. I’ve always said that I would rather have someone on my team with less talent and experience with a great attitude than someone with more talent and experience with a poor attitude. This quote by Chuck Swindoll is one of my favorites:
It is more important than facts. It is more important than past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company…a church…home.
The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you…we are in charge of our attitude.”
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 I Will Interact With That Day. As I drive into work each morning, I pray for those that I know I will encounter that day in meetings. I pray that I will shine Christ’s light, representing Him, and serve others well. I also think about how I don’t know what will happen that day, but Jesus does. Praying about my work and the people I work with is a great way to start the day and be a disciple at work.
- Show empathy, care, and yes even love, to those I lead. In our church, elders have “flock groups” to shepherd, pray for, etc. I see my work team as another kind of flock group. I experience life situations with them, showing empathy for them as they go through difficult times and circumstances – and they do the same for me. Many of the people on my prayer list are from my workplace.
How have you tried to integrate your faith and work?