Moral Quandaries in the Workplace: Witnessing
Witnessing in the workplace might be a politically correct nightmare for some, whilst for others it may form part of everyday conversation. This article will aim to provide a few basic points regarding verbal witness for the Lord Jesus in our spheres of employment.
The workplace isn’t the location to take a soapbox and start an open-air meeting. But neither is it the place where we should be cowed into silence and think that the gospel is off limits conversation in the marketplace of ideas. These are the extremes to avoid; the overzealous, ‘bull in a china shop’ typeapproach or the lukewarm, apathetic ‘hide my Christianity’sort of approach. Neither should mark us.
We spend more time in the workplace than we do with other Christians. The Lord has placed us there for a specific reason, yes to earn a living, yes to provide for a family, but ultimately to testify for him. Being a Christ follower is who we are, it is our identity, and it is not one we are free to take off or hide when we enter a certain vocation. We are salt (Mt 5:13), light (Mt 5:16) and epistles known and read of all men (2 Cor 3:2), we cannot hide this.
Furthermore, our colleagues preach their beliefs at us every day. They don’t call it that per se, but every time they tell us about the films they watch, the immorality they enjoy or their weekend revelling they are communicating to us who they are and what they believe. It would seem strange therefore for us as Christians not to return the favour.
Granted witnessing in the workplace is not always plain sailing, we’ve all felt the tinge of fear when telling our boss about what we believe. Testifying can be a little like swimming in the sea, at first, the thought of cold water does not enthuse us, however once we have taken the plunge and are swimming in the ocean, it is a most enjoyable experience.None of us relish being the butt of the jokes, or the spectacle in the middle of the group, but profitable gospel conversations are worth all the ridicule as we tell others about the most sublime news. No Christian is above his Lord, and we have been called to bear the reproach of the Lord Jesus (Heb 13:13). We cannot overcome these difficulties and deficiencies in our own strength. This is why every day should start with prayer for the child of God. We should all pray for the Lord’s help and guiding in how to live and speak at work. Without him we can do nothing (Jn 15:5). Praying for specific colleagues also engenders a burden of heart for their lost and perishing souls. We are creatures prone to apathyregarding people’s eternal welfare, therefore prayer for specific colleagues helps to shake off such indifference.Prayer also moves the hand of God to prepare our colleagues to hear the gospel. Prayer changes everything, and we must avail ourselves of this resource in order to be effective witnesses in the workplace.
Although we are in employment to work hard and earn a living, inevitably there arises certain times and opportunities when colleagues simply converse about everyday life. Often, holidays and weekend plans are discussed as well as the latest football results or TV shows. This informal chatter is often fertile soil for telling people what we’re all about. It’s very easy to tell colleagues that our weekends do not consist of partying, but going to ‘church’ (it’s best to use language they understand, and not assembly jargon). Maybe our holiday plans do not consist of 2 weeks on an exotic beach, but a Christian camp or other forms of outreach. When invited to attend the workplace social scene, again opportunity arises to tell them that we are a Christians and don’t drink. Perhaps when politics is being discussed we can explain that we don’t vote because the powers that be are ordained of God (Rom 13:1). None of the above amount to presenting the gospel, but they are indicators about who we are and what we believe.These intimations often lead to questions. Dropping in a few lines about our Christian life, can lead to a whole range of conversations about the gospel. Broad questions about the origins of the universe, the existence of God and the morality of the Bible can then follow and we are well on our way to gospel witness. Some colleagues might be completely uninterested, and not take the bait. Others might approach usat a later date and take us up on the intimations that we have given. By nailing our colours to the mast in simple conversation we indirectly invite people to ask us about what we believe. Our Christian identity should be wrapped up in natural conversation, not in a condescending, preaching kind of way, but in such a way that invites conversation and questioning.
We could call this, ‘the Nicodemus principle’, in John 3 Nicodemus approached the Lord alone by night, in John 7 he presents a few words in defence of the Lord Jesus, by the end of the gospel he is fully associated with the Lord Jesus, and maybe lost his job in the Sanhedrin. The point is he grew little by little in his testimony. Most people when going to the gymnasium don’t start off lifting heavy weights, but over a period of time build up their strength and gradually get to the heavier lifting. It is the same with workplace witnessing; start where you are able and build up over a period of time. Also, start where your colleagues are; some will quickly get to full-blown gospel conversation, whilst others will be reserved or indifferent. Not every conversation can be or needs to be about the gospel, it can take time to get to know people before presenting the good news to them. Patience is needed, as well as reliance on God’s sovereign hand to work in their hearts, and present opportunities – the process takes time.
An integral and vital part of our gospel testimony in the workplace is how we live. Christian character is the foundation for verbal Christian witness. Our colleagues should see something of Christ in us as we live before them day by day. Yes, we will fail and stumble at times, but in the long-term they should see the reality of Christian character in our lives. Our practice has to match our profession. Word will quickly spread in the workplace about what sort of person we are; therefore, it is imperative that we have godly reputation. Most of the New Testament references to employment are to do with our character (Col 3:22, Eph 6:5, 1 Tim 6:1, Ti 2:9, 1 Pet 2:18) we should obey and be subject to our employers, and work as unto the Lord in all that we do. As people see something different in us, and see the Lord we serve, we can then verbally testify when the opportunity arises about the Saviour we love. May the Lord help us in these matters.