Leading Happy

Where Leadership and Happiness Collide

Category: Missions

Sharing Your Faith at W.O.R.K.

Note: This post originally appeared at Empty Church

Typically, sharing faith at work has been seen in two diametric opposites. Either it’s the incredibly passionate religious zealot others run and hide from or the lazy, religious hipster who finds anything other than prayer and contemplation beneath him. I am pretty sure through my journey as a Christian I have been in both groups. Obviously, this is a gross exaggeration because there are so many nuances in-between. But you get the point.

For us, we want to look at productive and healthy ways to share faith at work – that place we spend 40 plus hours a week or more. Many separate out their life as work, family, and recreation. Yet, when added up, we spend a huge amount of time at work around the same people for months and years on end. When I realized this, I found that my work relationships and contacts were much deeper than I first realized. There was time created influence there that I had not tapped into for the kingdom of God.

So I came up with the acronym W.O.R.K. to help me and later others become more gospel-oriented at work.

W – Work Diligently  

I recall my first job as a young teen. I was 13 years old and volunteering for a local hospital. I remember setting back and reading or goofing off with other volunteers while the “paid guys” did the work. I will never forget what my direct report said to me.

“David, I know your parents, and I know you are a Christian. You setting around being lazy makes you look bad. It makes us Christians look bad. We should be the hardest workers. We serve longer and with more care than others should!”

Rudy, the chief of security at the hospital, knew my parents well as he and my dad worked around each other for over 20 years. His words affected me. That summer ended up being awarded the hardest worker merit for us “candy striper volunteers.” When I gave the thank you speech, I was able to thank Rudy, and I was also able to speak about my faith in Christ to the hospital employees present.

The writer of Proverbs provides us some insight into the value of hard work:

“A hard worker has plenty of food, but a person who chases fantasies has no sense.” (Proverbs 12:11)*

“Work hard and become a leader; be lazy and become a slave.” (Proverbs 12:24)

In other words, hard work is what leads to promotion, to more freedom in your work-life balance. Working hard allows you to move up the ladder and the further up you go the more platform and influence you hold.  Work hard, gain respect, and become the leader God desires you to become.

O – Opportunity Wise

As I moved up the leadership ladder, I found I had more time and space to influence people. So I began to pray that God would open my eyes to opportunities to share my faith.

“Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.” (Colossians 4:2)

I wanted my mind to alert to when those I worker for, alongside of, and especially above to know I was here for them. Not just as a colleague but as a caring friend. I prayed I would not be opportunity blind, an idea I first heard of from pastor and author, Mark Batterson. I was willing and I was ready!

“Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.” (1 Peter 3:15)

Be ready to answer those who need hope. I knew I needed to focus on making Jesus real to people with real work, family, and life issues. I was learning to be a pastor in a company, which can be trickier than in a church. New mission; new methods!

R – Reinforce Values

Every work culture has values. Most of the time, they are plastered all over walls, business cards, and their webpage. Nevertheless, having values printed doesn’t mean the values are imbedded and lived out.

One thing I have done for years is to learn the values of the company or church I was working with and then to fold those values into how I worked and lived. This has never let me down.

Plus, values are something that Christians are taught to take to heart, think on, and live out. Values shape and mold us. As above, Rudy instilled in me the Christian value of hard work and servanthood. Further, Paul teaches that they are worthy of praise!

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8)

For example, the current company I am with values health, wellness, and vitality. Many of the employees can be seen multiple times a day walking around the property. They walk for health benefits, but walking with others builds comradery. I’ve been able to share my faith at various times walking around with co-workers. Embracing the values of the company may allow you unique ways to share with others.

K – Kindness Matters

Finally, kindness matter isn’t simply a nicety, but the way we should approach anything we value. When you value someone you care for them. You are willing to put up with some junk to stay in relationship with them. You correct them when they are off the path.

The author of Ephesians explains, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32)

The same is true for us. We must first show we care for others before we can hope to share Christ with them. Think of it like this. If I am a jerk for a boss or a really incompetent leader, and then I go to others and share my faith, how much credit would I hold? Sure, the gospel has intrinsic value and worth in and of itself, but in today’s culture, the messenger matters. If you desire to carry the message of Jesus in the workplace, kindness must come naturally.

So to conclude, sharing the gospel at W.O.R.K. can be a stressful endeavor only because we try to do so in ways that don’t feel natural. Applying what we have discussed here can help you find a more natural fit to sharing with those you work with and lead.

Go ahead. Try it. You won’t regret it!

*All verses are from the New Living Translation.

The Cause Within You: A Short Review

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Barnett, Matthew. The Cause within You: Finding the One Great Thing You Were Created to Do in This World. Carol Stream: Tyndale, 2011. 240pp. $14.99.

I am probably a bit biased here, but I have known and have had the privilege of being around Matthew Barnett and doing mission’s work at the LA Dream Center for many years now. If you have ever been around Matthew you know it can be an intoxicating experience of cause-drivenness and passion for the least of these all wrapped up int a fireball of a guy! He truly is the Master of Misfits and the Champion of Causes in this generation. Just knowing him has made me more aware of Jesus calling us to serve the least of these, the forgotten, the hurting, the destitute, and poor, tired, and the hungry.

In The Cause within You, Barnett urges readers to see that God creates us to do great things for his name and his kingdom. By sharing his story in the beginning and weaving it in and out of the rest of the chapters, he leads a reader through an inspirational ride of Scripture, reflection, and challenges that will move the reader from passive pew sitter to passionate pursuer of God dreams! Matthew urges readers that if God can use him in great ways, he can use anyone he chooses. It simply takes faith, and truly that is the crux. Faith inside a person may drive their thinking and activities, but the one’s looking at the faithful from the outside think they have gone crazy.

Well, maybe it does take a bit of craziness to do big God-sized things. Click To Tweet

Just saying. 🙂

The chapters are each written in a manner that will help you process living out a God-sized cause. This type of cause is more than a vocation or occupation. It drives you to get out of bed early and go to bed late…and do it over and over again. You will have to stand up to persecution and pushback, sometimes even from close friends and the hardest of all – family. Through all of this attitude is everything. How you talk to those who follow you, those who persecute you, those you serve, and those you wish to impact matters more than any other single trait. Maxwell once said attitude is everything to the successful, and Matthew Barnett is proof in the pudding! His dream was not an easy road, but the right attitude helped him navigate the straightaways, curves, and potholes that derail too many dreams.

All great dreams need great teams. Click To Tweet

The LA Dream Center and all it took to get there and now to run the multitude of programs and outreaches is all team based. Your cause may start in your heart but it must begin to burn in others too. Recruiting, training, empowering, and releasing high energy teams of staff and volunteers is paramount to your success. As my two daughters often say (because they hear me say it all the time). Teamwork makes the dream work! I got that from my time around the LA Dream Center and following the amazing cause based career of Matthew Barnett. What began in LA has now extended internationally through the Dream Center Network. Amazing!

I highly recommend this book to leaders who have a cause in their heart and need an inspirational roadmap for the journey to see it lived out. WIth discussion questions in the back this can be done alone or in a small group or especially with the team surrounding the cause! This book isn’t for everyone. Many who have seen dreams come and go will baulk at all the stories and the antidotes and the inspirational quotes. For some it may be too late, but you never know. Maybe an attitude change could change the outcome of your past faded desires. It’s easy to be negative to those living and asking others to live their dreams. I simply believe that God has greatness for us all and that can be different as night and day for his children, but still greatness is there for us all!

I gave this book 5 stars because I feel Barnett captured his story and found principles to help others live their own story. It isn’t simply hype to get you excited, but a clarion call to action for those who need our gifts the most. If you are happy where you are at, great. Don’t read this book. If you feel a cause burning inside you, I cannot recommend a more readable and approachable book than The Cause within You. Oh, and if you can, get out to the LA Dream Center for one of their missions activities. Trust me, you will never be the same afterward.

Work Hard, Rest Hard

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Note: Guest post author kept anonymous due to the sensitive nature of missions work in certain areas. 

Faithful Christian men and women pay my family thousands of dollars to minister to the unreached in the Arab World. People who live paycheck to paycheck manage to write a $20 check to our account every month. That sweet grandmother gives a portion of her social security check with a diligence that would put the most successful CEO to shame. But when it comes down to it, we could sit down on the couch, kick back, and watch Netflix all day. Any of us could. We could avoid relationships that hold us accountable, show our face in the appropriate places, at the appropriate times, and just… coast.

And unfortunately, many Christian ministers do. Too many.

“We should be the hardest working people in the world.” It’s something I’ve often heard repeated by a mentor.

And not only in order to be good stewards of that grandmother’s faithful offerings, but also, and perhaps more importantly, because we have been entrusted with a task. As vocational ministers we are to grow the Church, to reach the world with the gospel of Christ, our Lord.

But sometimes it’s all we can do to survive.

We’re tired— exhausted even— just from the day-to-day life of overseas living. Our minds are exploding from learning one of the most difficult languages in the world. Our emotional energy is stretched by co-workers, local friends, and those we are mentoring. Our bodies are maxed out from carrying groceries home, walking upstairs, and trekking across the city via public transportation.

It’s all completely and utterly draining.

But… we press on.

We find that last ounce of energy to knock on our neighbor’s door to offer a plate of food in hopes of another gospel-centered conversation. We wake ourselves before the sun and before our children so that we can spend our first quiet moments of everyday seeking the Lord. We stay that extra hour after our painstakingly long Arabic lesson is over in order to get a head start on our studying. We have a job to do.

Kingdom work is the thread that is woven through every aspect of our lives. Click To Tweet

We wake in the morning with Him on our minds and in our hearts. “How can we grow His kingdom and glorify his name in our lives today?” As Americans, we generally approach life from a position of selfishness: “What can I get out of this?” “How can I make this situation easiest on me and my family?” “What is the best outcome for us?” —but Christ turned that upside down when he said “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.”

There’s very little self-concern involved in those two responsibilities. In fact, the Scriptures command just the opposite. We are called to die to ourselves again and again. So we use 100% of our time, energy, and resources to the best of our ability in order to grow His kingdom— no excuses— for six days out of every week.

And the seventh? We rest. We rest hard. We replenish our souls so that we can glorify God faithfully and diligently in our consistent, repetitious work.

Too often in our culture, we exalt and even celebrate the one who “doesn’t have time for a sabbath” or the one who is “too busy for a vacation.” Surely they are more “holy” than the rest of us (as if our own personal strength is a sign of holiness.) At the most basic level though, it isn’t noble to work long and continuously without resting— it’s disobedient. The Creator of the universe rested one of the seven days in the formation of the cosmos and all that is found within, so with what standing do we approach the throne as if we are above the need of rest?

My family and I have been ministering to the unreached of the Middle East for over a decade, and I’m just beginning to deeply understand the sacredness of the sabbath. Each morning, we draw ourselves from our beds before the sun has peeked over the horizon.

We saturate ourselves in His word in the quiet pre-dawn hours. And then we hustle.

We teach English, study Arabic, minister to our neighbors, and share the gospel with those have never heard it. We shuffle our kids to and from school, attempt to decipher their homework—all in Arabic of course, and help them navigate their relationships with local friends. We mentor new workers like ourselves, lead and attend team meetings, and remain faithful in communication with our support base back in the U.S.

But every Friday, we roll out of bed late, create and play with our kids, order dinner in, read from our favorite thinkers, relax with friends, and replenish our souls. It’s not a luxury but rather a necessity.

If we as leaders are working to our fullest capacity and being faithful in all that we do— as we should be doing— then, in tandem, we must also faithfully rest well.

Work hard, rest hard. Click To Tweet

Is your sabbath a priority, or do you simply view it as a luxury, an extra, an “if we have time for that?” Do you clear your schedule and vigorously protect it, or is it an afterthought each week? If we are to see this good work to its completion, we must commit to be in it for the long haul. For as noble as our efforts out of our own strength may seem, what value do they have if we are snuffed out?

Friends, may we run our race well … and may we also see to it that we finish well.


The author has been serving as a missionary in the Middle East since 2006. She, along with her husband and three children, are currently forming a team in order to plant the Church among the unreached in a neighboring war-torn country. But in her times of rest, she thoroughly enjoys eating gourmet foods, traveling to new countries, staying up way too late playing cards with friends– and she can whip up a mean chocolate chip cookie.

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