How to Be a Starter in the Game of Faith at Work

by | Sep 16, 2015

In football you have a first team and a second team. The first team are the starters. They are the best players. Coaches will refer to them as “ones.” The second team are the backups. They sit on the sideline waiting for their number to be called when the “ones” are tired, hurt, or need a break. Coaches call them “twos.”

The “ones” typically represent the best talent on the team and see the most playing time. Because of the playing time they get, there are some pretty easy ways to distinguish the “ones” from the “twos.” The ones will have significantly dirtier uniforms because of their increased playing time. Their helmets will be scarred from the multiple collisions with the opponent. They will be dripping with sweat from the intense and lengthy competition to win every play.

The “twos,” as you might imagine, have cleaner uniforms. They aren’t nearly as exhausted since they didn’t see as much action. The sideline is much friendlier to their helmet than being in the trenches on the field.

Faith at work can be hard. It will put you in situations where you either choose to engage or sit on the sideline. When you think about how you integrate your faith with your work, are you a “one” or a “two?” Here are a few examples:

Managing tensions within your team: Andy Stanley believes tension, when managed well, produces high performing teams. But tension can be messy. As tension increases, the “ones” will stand out as they navigate this pressure cooker with patience, poise, and confidence. They are getting dinged up as they speak the truth and love and use wisdom to create the win for both sides of a healthy tension.

Jesus was definitely a “one” in managing tension. Jesus was frequently managing tensions among his team of disciples. They were very passionate which led them to be very competitive. Jesus had to get them refocused in Luke 9 when their passion led them to an argument over who was greatest among them. Jesus reminds them “whoever is least among you will be the greatest.”

Navigating different viewpoints: From project management to strategic planning to human resource policies to budgeting – the workplace is full of opinions on the right way to do things. It can be tough to see another point of view as better than your own. The “ones” shine again as they listen patiently, ask clarifying questions, and share their opinions thoughtfully. Ones don’t interrupt someone when they have a different view. Even when right, the “ones” don’t put down those who think differently from them. Listening to a viewpoint that you don’t agree with can be challenging. Ignoring or interrupting that viewpoint is disrespectful and fails to show that person the love of Christ.

In Luke 9:51, Jesus sent messengers into a Samaritan village to prepare for his end days, but the Samaritans did not welcome him. The disciples asked Jesus if he wanted to destroy them. Rather than giving the green light on an air assault or even simply admonishing the villagers, Jesus rebuked the disciples for their approach. He chose to go to another village, avoiding engagement with the unfriendly Samaritans.

Caring for a hurting co-worker: “Ones” are receptive to the mood and feelings of their co-workers. They know when their teammates are hurting. They are sympathetic and thoughtful taking time to check in when something doesn’t seem right. Yes, it would save time in the short run to ignore the hurting teammate and return to your work. But that time should be seen as a ministry opportunity and an investment in the well-being of someone you care about.

Jesus was never too busy to help someone hurting. In Luke 7:13, Jesus observes a dead body being carried out of town – the only son of a widow. Rather than ignoring that she lost both her husband and her only son, he comforts the widow and raises her son from the dead.

Doing these things is going to get messy – your pride will have to take a back seat, you might have to work late to make up lost time, your project might take a little longer to accomplish. But the benefit gained is you have reflected an authentic Christ to some who may never see Christ otherwise. I challenge you to ask yourself, “Am I being a ‘one’ in the game of faith and work?”