As I look across the landscape of believers today, I see a lot of Christians wrestling with what a true disciple of Christ should look like in the workplace. Somewhere along the way, we’ve lost our vision for how Christ would conduct ministry at work. Over the last century, the business culture has been constantly reinventing itself with new technologies and innovations. But Christianity, it seems, has been left behind. That’s not to say there aren’t Christians in the marketplace. It’s just that they lack the zeal and confidence that’s truly representative of what God is doing inside them. Or they just don’t know what God would have them do.
We’ve lost our vision for how Christ would conduct ministry at work.
The problem is that when a person begins to grow in his passion for God, it creates tension at work. We know how to express our true feelings in church or in private, but how should we act around the office or in the field or in the factory? What does it look like? Should we come on strong and risk offending people? Or should we take the long road and hope our faith just rubs off on others over time?
It only takes one or two awkward experiences for Christians to realize that an enthusiasm for God doesn’t exactly blend seamlessly into the American business culture. We learn quickly that you can’t be careless about it. Subconsciously, it’s easier to suppress our kingdom calling in order to ease the clash of cultures we face each day. When we’re not sure what to do, it’s safer to do nothing. Why rock the boat?
Eventually, Christians tend to adopt one of two solutions to relieve the tension they feel at work. They either run or they hide.
The run response comes from the idea that it would just be easier to make a clean break – to start over in a new environment or to withdraw completely by enrolling in seminary and going into ministry full-time. There was an element of this driving my decision to leave AT&T and start a consulting business. Rather than make my current workplace my ministry, I ran away to create an environment that was more comfortable and controllable.
The hide response is nothing less than a subtle surrender of the mission. Unsure of how to interface our exuberance for God with a workplace that may not appreciate it, we tone it down around the office. And the fervor we feel on Sunday gets squelched a little from Monday to Friday. Essentially, we hide our true self from the work world.
Somehow we can’t quite grasp the vision of our work as an opportunity to share our faith. I’m the first to admit that it doesn’t come easily. But after twenty years of practicing marketplace ministry and teaching these principles to others, I’ve come up with an approach that will give you a clear vision for your calling to be about our Father’s business at work.
You see, regardless of how uncomfortable the tension may seem now, God doesn’t call us to run. And He doesn’t teach us to hide. Chances are He wants to use you right where you are. How else will people who don’t go to church find out about the relationship their Heavenly Father longs to have with them? It’s not like it’s talked about in the places they frequent. But because of your unique position in their lives, you have the opportunity to be someone God can use to tell them. And it doesn’t have to feel awkward. When you understand your role in the process, it can be one of the most natural and rewarding experiences you will ever know.
The disciples may have dropped their nets, but they didn’t run or hide. They spent the next several years living and ministering among many of the same people that already knew them. Often, we must prove faithful in our current mission field before God will entrust a new one to us. And as we’ll see, sometimes God does powerful things when we simply hang around long enough to allow others a chance to witness the transformation in our lives.
Work is not a curse for Christians. It’s a place where you live out your faith, reflecting what God is doing in your life. In light of eternity, the ministry you accomplish at work can be more important than the money you earn or the career you sustain. And once you see the impact God can have through you on the job, you will never look at your workplace the same again.
Written by Regi Campbell, excerpted from his book, About My Father’s Business Used by permission of WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. Content distributed by WorkLife.org > used for non-profit teaching purposes only.