How do people see you at work? I’ve been thinking about the relationship of your vocational work to spiritual conversations, especially as I reflect on collaborative events I’ve participated in over years, like the National Faith and Work Association Meeting. And here’s the thing: Our apologetic arguments aren’t heard in a vacuum. They’re wrapped in a special packaging called “your life.” In other words, our spiritual conversations are heard in the context of our who we are at work.
Think about it: We spend most of our time at work. And that’s where most of us interact with people who see Christianity differently. Each week, you have the opportunity to break down emotional barriers to the Gospel by the way you work and the way you treat people at work.
In this post, I’ll share two ways your time at work can begin to break down barriers to spiritual conversations with people you see the most. First, your work provides opportunities for building relationships. Second, your job provides opportunities to love your neighbors.
Building relationships with your co-workers and clients is a great way to break down emotional barriers to spiritual conversations. Part of earning the right to be heard includes doing good work in our vocation. Again, our spiritual conversations, apologetic arguments, and evangelism don’t take place in a vacuum. They are wrapped up in the kind of person you are in the workplace. Walt Larimore, who wrote Workplace Grace along with Bill Peel, says:
“People tend to not want to hear what you say if you are sloppy at work.”
But it’s a lot more than job performance that counts. It’s how you treat people, too.
Honoring God with our life includes viewing our work as a ministry—a service to both God and neighbor. This goes beyond the things that we might do outside of our work responsibilities. Although praying for people or leading bible studies after office hours may honor God, we shouldn’t forget that our daily, professional work itself is also a part of our service to the Lord. I like how Greg Forster says that work is “how we serve our neighbors in our everyday activities,” and it “is one of the main ways we reflect the character of Christ” (Theology That Works, 10).
Both competence and character are important traits of a Christian ambassador at work. It’s no surprise that thoughtful acts of kindness—like sharing the recognition for corporate victories with our staff or verbally appreciating our coworkers for their contributions—can play an important part in representing the Gospel. The Lord is pleased by Christian ambassadors who do good, honest work while obeying the Second Greatest Commandant: to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Loving your neighbor often paves the way for open spiritual conversations. In a video series on Workplace Grace, Bill Peel explains:
“When actions and words go together in showing appreciation and respect and honor of the value in another person, that speaks volumes. Obviously, if a person doesn’t feel valued by us they’re not going to value what you believe or what you say.”
So, when someone realizes that we have their best in mind, they may find it easier to open the door to honest conversations about some of the most important things in life. As ambassadors, we must begin to develop a biblical perspective on our work. One of the results of doing so is a better witness for Christ at our places of employment.
At the end of the day, our spiritual conversations are always heard in the context of our lives, including our lives at work. As Christian ambassadors, we need to see the value God sees in our work and the opportunities he’s has placed for us to represent Him well in our places of employment.
Take this week to intentionally build relationships with your coworkers, supervisors, customers, and clients, genuinely loving them through your work. By God’s grace, these simple acts of kindness can help open the door to spiritual conversations and even break down emotional barriers to the Gospel.
Mikel Del Rosario helps Christians explain their faith with courage and compassion. He is a doctoral student in the New Testament department at Dallas Theological Seminary. Mikel teaches Christian Apologetics and World Religion at William Jessup University. He is the author of Accessible Apologetics and has published over 20 journal articles on apologetics and cultural engagement with his mentor, Dr. Darrell Bock. Mikel holds an M.A. in Christian Apologetics with highest honors from Biola University and a Master of Theology (Th.M) from Dallas Theological Seminary, where he serves as Cultural Engagement Manager at the Hendricks Center and a host of the Table Podcast. Visit his Web site at ApologeticsGuy.com.
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