This question or similar ones come up frequently in some our Transforming Work sessions, e,g:
- What does appropriate Christian witness look like in the workplace?
- When should I tell people I am a Christian?
- How can I tell them without putting them off or unnecessarily jeopardizing my position in the organisation?
Bethany Jenkins on the Gospel Coalition website offers some thoughtful biblical reflection and practical advice about making your faith public in the workplace. You can read the full article here.
Her theological reflections take us back to my favorite public servant – Daniel in the context of what it means to be an exile (living in Babylon and not Jerusalem) and how we can ‘…seek the peace and prosperity of the city.’
I really appreciated what Jenkins calls “Five Guidelines for Balance:
- Be patient. Unlike many contexts, work is a place we go to every day and—for the most part—with the same people. We don’t have to talk about our faith every time it comes up because the context of work gives us the ability to take a long-view, relationship-building approach. I think of Jesus and the three years he spent in public ministry—sometimes he spoke (e.g., John 4:7-26), but other times he didn’t (e.g.,Matthew 14:1-23; 27:11-14).
- Do my work. And do it well. Some Christians view work primarily as a means of personal evangelism; it’s not. Work matters. God doesn’t just love lawyers; he loves justice, too (Psalm 33:5). He doesn’t just care about florists; he delights in flowers, too (Luke 12:27). The content of our work—not just our relationships at work—matters. What we do expresses the fullness of God’s character to the world.
- Serve my boss. Most employees report to someone else—even CEOs report to investors. Not only does the Lord call us to prefer others in all of life (Philippians 2:3), he also calls us to serve our bosses in the context of work (Ephesians 6:5-8). If there comes a point where the will of our boss directly conflicts with the will of the Lord, then Daniel offers another good example—he and his employer found a creative solution that didn’t compromise his faith or his work (Daniel 1:12-14).
- Acknowledge the Lord. Yet there came a time when Daniel’s will and his employer’s will were impossible to reconcile, and Daniel chose to acknowledge the Lord no matter the consequences (Daniel 6). My friend Mark, too, believed in God’s promise that, if he acknowledged the Lord before others, then the Lord would acknowledge him before the Father. He took God at his word. Indeed, the time for us to use words to share the gospel will come for all of us. And when it comes, those words will be far better received when I’ve been patient, done my work well, and served my boss.
- Trust the Spirit. No act of evangelism has ever saved anyone. It is God who initiates and saves, not us. We cultivate faith; we don’t create it. God uses us to draw out the Spirit that he has already sent in the hearts of others. Trusting the Spirit enables us to be patient, do our work well, serve our boss, and know when and how to acknowledge the Lord.
Check out the whole article – it’s a very encouraging and helpful read.