What's that Bible doing on your desk?

What's that Bible doing on your desk?

As a young executive, I remember my dad telling me: "I don't trust anyone who has a bible on their desk at the office." I was immediately ready for an argument. How could he be so cynical? Weren't these people being a "good witness?" I asked him why he felt so negative about this practice. "David," he said, "my experience has taught me that if someone has to wear their religion on their sleeve, then it's likely no deeper than that!" As a result of this encounter I began to watch to see what business people who had a genuine faith were like. Over the years, I have concluded that a person who is a faithful Christian "in the marketplace" will probably not have a bible on their desk. Instead, they will display certain characteristics consistently, which will endear them to their colleagues, and which will reveal their heart for God to those around them. I believe that those who honor their Christian faith at work will do two things: 1) They will do a good job, and 2) They will be men of their word.


Scripture exhorts us to "work hard at all we do, as unto the Lord." As men of faith, we should be known as those who do a good job. After all, if it is God we are seeking to please, and not men, His standards are as high as they come. Taking shortcuts, or doing substandard work, not only reflects poorly on us, but also on the One we serve. As Os Guinness has said, we should live and work for "an audience of ONE."

One summer, I was working as a "carpenter's helper." For a few weeks, our crew were up on Keats Island, doing some repairs for our family cottage. Under the dock, the waves had eroded the sand, under and around some of the foundations. I was asked to prepare some form work so we could pour fresh concrete to enlarge the footings. I wasn't very skilled with a hammer and saw, and when I completed the task, I could see that it wasn't very square, and not entirely level either. My boss, the carpenter, came to have a look at what I had done. I told him that I would like his help to fix it. With a smile of encouragement,he told me that it was good enough. I said that I didn't think so. He said, "don't worry, it's under the dock, no-one will ever notice." I begged to differ. You see, I knew my dad would be interested in what work I had been doing that week, and he would come to see my handiwork. I would be embarrassed to show him what I had done. I insisted that I be allowed to re-do my work. Good enough wasn't good enough. It had to be good enough for my dad!

You see, even if our employer doesn't expect anything great from us, we should give each project we undertake as much care as if our Heavenly Father was going to come and inspect it. Sloppy work discredits our God, and doesn't impress anyone we work with either.


Unfortunately, in today's business environment it is not unusual to discover that we have been deceived, or lied to, by those around us. To get ahead, many people think that it's essential to modify the truth to suit the occasion. These individuals believe the Machiavellian maxim that "a wise leader cannot and should not keep his word when keeping it is not to his advantage..." This should NOT be our standard!

When I was President of Dominion Construction, we submitted a price for the construction of GM Place, the new arena which was to be built in Vancouver. Unfortunately we were not the low bidder, and so negotiations between the owners and our competing contractor were initiated. However, after 3 weeks, they could not come to terms. Then, one Friday afternoon, I received a call from Orca Bay's vice chairman, asking for a meeting. We met in my office, and he told me that he would like to see if we could make a deal. That weekend, we signed a contract for the largest project in our company's 75-year history (just under $100,000 million).

However, more importantly we learned why we had been given the opportunity to do the job. Our client told us that they wanted us to do the job, because, they believed "...they could trust us."

How do you become trustworthy anyway? Perhaps Eisenhower should be our example here. "Indeed whenever associates described Eisenhower, there was one word that almost all of them, superiors or subordinates, used. It was trust. People trusted him for the most obvious reason - he was trustworthy."

There is no way around it; we become trustworthy by BEING trustworthy. If we are to be God's witnesses in the workplace, we need to be men of our word. If we are, then we will have credibility when we seek to share the things of God.

I don't have a bible on my desk at work (never have). But I try to display my commitment to following Jesus all the same. I do this by trying to do a good job, and by being a man of my word.

I think those who know me realize where my roots lie, and I seek to honor Him in all I do.

Written by David C. Bentall, Family Business Advisor & Executive Life Coach, Next Step Advisors, Inc.  Used with permission. All rights reserved. Content distributed by WorkLife.org > used for non-profit teaching purposes only.

9 comments (Add your own)

1. Keith B wrote:
I have to tell you, I think this is a weak article. I am not for bringing your big family Bible and placing it on your desk, or even placing a Bible on your desk for the sake of having one there. But the marketplace is where our next big revival is going to take place. Many non-Christians are honest, ethical, etc. So how do people REALLY know what you are about?

At times in my life when I have really been in the scriptures for various reasons the Bible is in my briefcase, on my desk, etc. Either a Bible or a devotional book. There came a tipping point when I just decided that attitudes in my office were no longer going to bother me. The Lord has done too much in my life.

I recently heard Dan Cathy of Chick-fil-a stand up in front of a group of business people - most of them unbelievers and hold up a Bible. He said that its hard to do Business without "this" book. It was a great moment.

There is a right way and a wrong way to carry your faith in the workplace. May the Lord help us to do it the right way so that people not only see our light, but are changed and converted by it.

Wed, May 27, 2015 @ 12:51 PM

2. Dan Ward wrote:
I disagree that having a Bible on my desk is a sign that I am less than a faithful Christian in the marketplace. More than anything, the Bible is there for me to read before I start my day, and during those rare times that I may actually take a break from my work. It's also proven to be a handy reference to others who have had questions and wanted to "see what the Bible says" about a topic.
As it says in Deuteronomy 11:18,"You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes." Always with you as a constant reminder.
I will never be ashamed of God's Word and will continue to have it on my desk to keep me and others strong and faithful.

Wed, May 27, 2015 @ 12:57 PM

3. Tony wrote:
This is so true and unfortunately the story of "leaders" who are the Sunday morning Christians I love the story Our work for God is by our deeds, our dedication to doing anything we do to do it the best we can because we are doing in in the name of God. As we treat our fellow workers we are treating Jesus that way ...what we do unto others we do unto Me..."

Servant Leadership is a calling. Leaders - practice it, in His name

Wed, May 27, 2015 @ 1:22 PM

4. Larry Peabody wrote:
You have made such an important point, one that a distinction made by Jesus ought to help us to see. In Matt. 6:1, he warns,"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them." In context, he spoke of praying, fasting, and charitable giving. Some translate "acts of righteousness" as "practicing your piety" or "way of worshiping God." But in the previous chapter, he tells us to "let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven" (Matt. 5:16). The good deeds, literally "good works," practiced publicly bring glory to God. These include, as you say, trustworthiness, and fruit of the Spirit in working relationships, and so on.

Wed, May 27, 2015 @ 1:36 PM

5. Elissa wrote:
A faithful Christian in the marketplace can't be a woman of her word? How sad that you don't see Christian women as also being in the marketplace. Thankfully our God does. I will keep you and your ministry in my prayers.

Wed, May 27, 2015 @ 3:27 PM

6. Chris wrote:
Good article, good advice.

I try to do a good job and be a man of my word.

And I have a Bible on my desk (or did, until I gave it to a co-worker, along with my testimony; and who, apparently, gave her life to Jesus at least in part because of that encounter; thanks for reminding me to get a replacement).

I agree that many try to use religion (e.g., a Bible on the desk) as a means to "get to us," and I am often cautious when I see business people displaying their religion.

On the other hand, to broad-brush this subject as this article does, and to argue for no Bible (or other witness), does lead to the possibility that people will simply / merely think we are "good people" and nothing more.

Wed, May 27, 2015 @ 7:10 PM

7. Agus Hartadi wrote:
It is absolutely true. Every Christian professional must be trustworthy. Thanks for sharing one's living testimony.

Wed, May 27, 2015 @ 9:31 PM

8. Manin Tigga wrote:
Thanks for encouraging me .we must exalt HIM .

Wed, May 27, 2015 @ 11:20 PM

9. Kevin Williams wrote:
How sad that the author's father had such negative experiences with individuals displaying the Bible. It was enough to make the author never display his Bible on his desk. I can't help but wonder if we have again fallen for one of Satan's ploys-to have people who profess to be Children of the almighty God not display his word for the world see and inquire of. There are many individuals who are not Christian who display good character traits. I say display your Bible with humility and strength. Prove to the world that when they see your Bible they can trust an depend on you!

Fri, May 29, 2015 @ 3:06 PM

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