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.