Why do I have to work? Work can be very frustrating; it’s been that way going way back! Work is where we spend many hours of the week. How we connect our work to God is therefore an important issue to explore. It bridges the gap between our Sunday worship and just about every other hour of our week. Tim Keller’s new book Every Good Endeavour, concerns the theological implications of our work and gives good insight. God has purposes in everyone’s labour, not just pastors and missionaries!
What does God want from us in our work? How we answer that question will shape our Christian relationship to our work. In the book, Keller lists eight possible motivations for Christians at work (pg 22). Last Wednesday, I elaborated on the first way we can serve God through our work, namely furthering social justice. This week I’ll consider a second:
#2 A way to serve God at work is to be personally honest and evangelize you co-workers.
For many Christians, this one might seem like a no-brainer. Our Lord wants us out in the world and not hiding. Most could agree that all believers are to participate in the command to go and make disciples. It is only natural, then, to conclude that our job is a good place to speak the Gospel. After all, for most people their place of work is where they spend much of their lives and have much of their human contact. It only makes sense that our workplaces are environments God intends to use for evangelism.
Speaking the Gospel at work is hard and personal. Being a pastor, it can be hard to speak to non-Christians sometimes.* That’s because my work keeps me among believers; I have to make extra effort to be ‘out there’. For lay people, the challenge is the opposite – creating opportunity to talk to co-workers about Jesus. There is extra wisdom and sensitivity that is sometimes needed when evangelizing at work. You do have to keep your job – so don’t be obnoxious (you should never be anways)! You’re probably in your work environment long term – so don’t feel the pressure to bring up Jesus in every conversation. But the advantages are many:
-Co-workers get to be around us quite a bit and longer relationships can form.
-Some jobs afford lots of time to talk.
-Befriending co-workers helps us out of the Christian bubble.
-Working with someone can help them see how our faith plays out in everyday life.
None of that makes it necessarily easier, though. There is always a point where straight speech about Jesus and His Gospel is needed. The cost of Gospel sharing can be high; reputation among other things. But just imagine your workplace. Do you believe that God has placed you there? Could it be that you’re there for someone else?
Is Evangelizing the Main Way to serve God at work? Being a Gospel-centred guy, it might be tempting for me to suggest it is so but I don’t think it is. Evangelism is only one way to serve God at work and one that needs to be balances with others, furthering social justice for example. For instance, telling co-workers about Jesus says nothing about the nature of our work itself – only about the opportunities that it creates. It does not give a craftsman a theological vision for the actual work they do with their hands. In short, evangelizing is not the only way to serve God at work but it is one not to be forgotten.
* I didn’t spring from my mother’s womb a pastor. I’ve had lots of other jobs (I was even bi-vocational until a year ago). Speaking to co-workes about the Lord is something I’ve done a lot of. I’ve sometimes paid a price for it but I trust God has used me in many workplace conversations.