Taking Your Faith to Work

Dr. Jon R. Roebuck, Exec. Director

“Being a disciple means being constantly ready to bring the love of Jesus to others, and this can happen unexpectedly in anyplace: on the street in a city, or during work, or in a city square, or on a journey.” -Pope Francis, from Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel”), No. 127.

I take a lot of things to work each day.  Most days I carry my laptop.  It’s a very portable workstation that contains a lot of my work and projects.  I also take my cell phone to work each day.  How would any of us survive without the ability to have our contacts, emails, and social media at our fingertips?  Somedays I take my lunch.  Recently my wife bought me a bunch of those disposable containers that I don’t have to remember to bring home.  It makes the whole “leftovers for lunch” thing a whole lot more manageable.  I take other things to work as well.  I take books, snacks, keys, etc.  I also take along my personality, my skillset, my ambitions.  But the real question is, “Do I take along my faith?”

Many might argue that there should be a separation of faith and work; a duality of life that says live your faith at home, but not at the office.  Such folks believe that work practices should not be impacted by one’s faith positions.  Some fear that faith could be offensive, over-bearing, and perhaps even off-putting.  But I’m not in that camp.  I tend to believe that if faith is in you, it should always go with you and should even be evident to those around you.  However, one’s faith should be naturally expressed, lovingly conveyed, and authentically lived.  Faith should not be a club used to impose opinion condescendingly upon others.  It is not to be a litmus test to judge another person’s worth or likeability.  It is not to be used in any way that repels others from honest inquiry about your beliefs.  As I understand it, our faith should draw people into relationship, not push them away.  So how can we take our faith to work in a non-offensive, Christ-promoting, culturally-impacting way?  Here’s a few thoughts…

Be Joyful.  We can’t be up-beat and happy all the time.  That’s not even close to what I am suggesting.  Joy transcends emotions.  It is rooted in the hope that we have in Christ Jesus, acknowledging that his faithfulness and love for us is constant and enduring.  Being joyful means that we can offer peace, calm, and hope to those around us, even on a bad work day.

Do your best, always.  Colossians 3:17 says, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.”  There is a calling contained in that verse to work hard and to strive for excellence.  Because we do all things “as unto the Lord,” we cannot settle for mediocrity.  We must constantly ask, “Is this my best?”  Details matter.

Treat others with civility and respect.    I Cor. 3:16 reminds us that the Holy Spirit lives in us.  The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. (Gal. 5:22-23)  No Spirit-led person should allow rudeness, anger, or a lack of decency and civility to come from their mouths or hearts.  It’s just not in us if we are Spirit-filled.

Be honest.  Faith demands integrity.  When people can’t trust your words, how will they ever trust in the Savior you proclaim?

Be supportive.  There will always be people around you in the work environment who are experiencing difficulties.  And although we cannot pretend to “fix” everything in their lives, we can offer support and encouragement.  Sometimes it’s as simple as taking the time to listen.  Sometimes it’s as simple as the promise to pray for them, or better yet, to take a moment to pray with them.

Practice forgiveness as a daily discipline.  One of the hardest demands of the Christian faith is that of forgiveness.  It is also one of the most clearly evident ways we have to demonstrate our commitment to Christ.  We should make a habit of telling people that we are sorry when we have wrong them, and forgive them when they have wronged us.  It means that we cannot become “historical” with every infraction.  We have to model a complete offering of grace and a willingness to trust again.

It is never an easy quest to live one’s faith consistently and openly before the world.  But it is what Christ expects of us.  So take your faith along on the ride to work this week.  Let it be lovingly evident in everything that you do.