How can a Christian be a Christian in a secular work environment? This question has been on my mind since I recently was hired by a retail chain to supplement my social security. I have been employed for over 40 years at various jobs but this time this thought came to me: What kind of person you are is really revealed in the break room, not on the sales floor.
In a store you are under the watchful eye of the boss and expected to perform in a courteous and professional manner with all employees and customers. It is in the break room where one’s true character becomes known. Sometimes there are conversations, dirty jokes, profane words, and poor attitudes. We cannot expect non-Christians to act godly, but the Bible tells Christians to be in the world but not of it.
Dr. Sajan Mathews, professor of systematic theology at Moody Seminary, recently stated, “The reality is that those in the workforce are often the most unreached people group in our lives.” The seminary has launched a new class called “Vocational Stewardship.” It seeks to answer the question of how we as Christians can have good testimonies at work and best put to use our God-given abilities. To this I will add the question, “How can a Christian help people in a secular workforce see what a real Christian is?”
What are some approaches that Christians can take to have a godly witness in a secular work environment?
1. Don’t come across as judgmental. Don’t expect non-believers to act and talk like Christians.
2. In conversations be alert to what other employees are saying that may indicate some real struggles and hurts. Share relevant problems in your past or present life to establish common ground. Remember, we all have the same issues and problems. Talk about how you handled them so you may be of some help to them.
3. Give cards on special days, and particularly in times of bereavement.
4. If an employee is going through a particularly difficult time of sickness or marital conflict and you have a fairly close relationship you may consider mentioning to them that you will pray for them, and that God performs miracles and restoration.
5. Get to know other employees by using the acronym FORM, which stands for family, occupation, recreation (or hobbies), and meeting together. This works in getting to know someone in a very general sense.
6. If a fellow employee is a reader and is struggling in some area, loan them a book that might be of help.
Some of these things you do not want to do on company time because it could result in being a poor witness. However, you may identify other employees who are Christians and with whom you can have fellowship. The secular workplace is probably the most common arena for mingling with non-Christians so it offers the most potential for reaching people with the message of hope, healing, and salvation.
A Christian’s reputation is of utmost importance. If others find out that you are a Christian they may be watching you. Be honest and above board in all of your dealings. Don’t get involved in company gossip or talking about others. Show up for work every day early and work hard all day. Don’t compromise your morals or ethics. You are there to work and be a good employee, not to evangelize. However, you can take advantage of opportunities to share your life and witness at appropriate times using discretion.