“Am I the only Christian in my office?”
A question a lot of us, myself included, have asked from time to time at the workplace. Actually, I ask myself that question a lot, especially since I serve in a management capacity at my company for three-and-a-half years. Even though I lead a team of four and work in a 20-employee organization, I have actively shared my faith maybe twice that I can remember. We don’t have a policy on whether or not discussions on religion are allowed and I’ve never looked too closely.
My subordinates know I’m a Christian and go to church, which I field questions on from time to time but only on a “Yes, No, I don’t know” basis. They ask occasionally about the church I go to, who I worship and fellowship with, the kinds of activities our Primetime young adult ministry does and other aspects of social interaction within our community.
They never ask me about the reasons why I attend church or why I attend Primetime, nor the content of the teachings I take in on a given Sunday morning or Wednesday night. Each conversation probably falls under the category of “small talk,” which is ironic because I wouldn’t consider Christianity to be a “small” part of my life at all.
Other times when I’m working independently, the office is occasionally filled with topics and language that I would rather do without listening to. I would like to break in and try to change the subject, but it’s too easy to sit back and let them have at it without actively trying to be different. It’s safer to not put in the effort, be comfortable and not show our faith in an awkward setting.
Different: it’s exactly what God calls us to be. He also calls us to be missionaries in our everyday social situations, where we should take our different faith and set of values to a culture that is different from the ones we have in a church or other Christian setting. My father always taught me that actions speak louder than words and that many people learn a lot about your faith by watching how you behave more so than from your words.
A co-worker’s mere witness of how I act towards others with kindness, gentleness, patience or other Spiritual Fruits can present opportunities for me to explain why and how I act.
Vulnerability is another key component of authentic Christianity in the workplace. I don’t have to pretend in front of my co-workers that I don’t have any problems or struggles of my own. No one should have to smile when they’re sad on a practical level.
On a much deeper level, I shouldn’t be shy to share when I go through difficult times and question whether God really had our backs. That conversation may lead me to striking up a conversation with a co-worker and sharing how God was there for me. Don’t ever underestimate the power of one’s testimony.
Truth be told, being a Christian doesn’t make us all that different from non-Christians because we still face the same struggles and have the same emotions as those who do not believe in Jesus. We have to come to our non-believing co-workers as we are and as they are for authentic fellowship with them.