We were posed a great question after last week’s blog, “Should we talk about our faith more at work?”
I’ll respond with a very solid, “Maybe, but it depends.” Here are a few things I’d encourage you to consider:
Before you utter a word, first consider, “What is my life already saying?” In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus tells his followers, “…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matt 5:16) The word for deeds here can be translated as actions, but it is just as accurate to translate it as work or employment.
We should ask, “What do my actions, reactions, and the way I work communicate to the people around me?” My attitude toward work is already giving a testimony. The quality of my work is bearing witness to something. The way I work alongside my coworkers either lays a foundation or nullifies the validity of anything that comes out of my mouth.
I remember being on vacation once and while we were lounging in the pool another guest was talking to her friend quite authoritatively about health, wellness, diet, and exercise. She was passionate and seemed very knowledgeable so I tried to listen in without being too obvious. On our next trip to the pool she and her friend were there again but this time they were chatting on the pool deck. I immediately noticed one key difference from the day before. The health “expert” chain smoked for the entire time we swam. The incongruence outweighed her expertise and made it impossible for me to take her counsel seriously.
The same thing happens when we talk about our faith. If your everyday life runs counter to what you proclaim you won’t be heard no matter how sound your beliefs, accurate your presentation, or well meaning your intentions.
The second thing to consider is, “Does anyone want to know about my faith?” Peter gave wise counsel that is very pertinent for our workplaces. But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” (1 Peter 3:15)
Our role as people of faith is to always be ready and wait for opportunities in a posture of response. When you live your faith out at work over the long haul in simple and practical ways people will notice. When you are treated with disrespect and still respond with grace or maintain a positive attitude when everyone else is complaining or when you consistently go the extra mile for a customer, people will notice and it won’t be long until they ask you why. That’s when you share Who the source of the difference is. That’s when you gently and respectfully start to tell your story.
Lastly I would invite you to consider, “What is the good news for this person right now?” I’m not talking about changing the gospel but rather discerning – if the gospel is good news – how much of the gospel do we share at this moment. The good news might be that you can help your coworker with a project so she can get home before her kids go to bed. The good news might be that you step out and risk vulnerability in order for your culture to become more trusting and transparent. The good news for the new employee might be to acknowledge his efforts and assure him that he is doing better than he thinks he is. Or maybe God swings the door of opportunity wide open and the good news is to share the full message of Jesus.
While how and when we talk about our faith at work requires wisdom and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit I know one thing for sure: God loves the people you work with and longs to reveal Himself to them. Your presence, actions, attitude, and words can be instrumental in them experiencing Him.