Dave is a competent young professional. He looks worn and defeated. In talking about his workplace, he said that bickering, criticism, and lack of support for Christians had spread through his organisation — a workplace he used to love. Now, he said, “The tension here is so thick I hate going to work.” he says.
Coming Out of The Christian Closet
Almost everyone has a story to tell about a bad boss, a bizarre colleague or a terrible place to work. However, as a Christian based digital media website, we have heard tons of stories of religious discrimination in the workplace.
We are blessed to have freedom of religion in the UK; (these rights are part The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and applies to freedom from religious discrimination, accommodation, and hostile work environment matters in both public and private workplaces) but recently the attacks upon Christians has increased, and people have lost their jobs and closed their businesses as a result of standing up for their belief. Practicing Christianity at the office or even sharing beliefs seems to touch on nerves, hurt feelings, and ignite high-levels of anger as well as passion in non believers. And it seems like the workplace climate may be getting worse: the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) considered 3,721 religious discrimination complaints in 2013, up from 1,709 in 1997.
“Secular ideology is so pervasive in the professional environment that we often have a difficult time fitting into the culture of the office. Many of us simply “go with the flow,” choosing to participate in the promotion of secular thought and values rather than risk being ostracized and ridiculed by defending the absolute truth of Christianity and the moral certitude of the distinctively Christian vision.”
You know what we’re talking about. Do you pray before lunch with a bunch of clients? Do you invite a new friend to church? Do you quote an appropriate Scripture during a dinner party? Do you hand someone your newsletter (FaithMD)?
However, a poppy is not just for Christmas, and a Christian is not just for the weekend.
But what does it really look like to unite our jobs and faith? After all office politics can be cruel and unfair and you’ve got to play the game… haven’t you? We mean it’s easier to just to pretend you’re out and avoid that phone call… isn’t it? When you’re putting in that expenses claim… everyone creams a little off the top, so why lose out? And when there’s no holiday left to take but you need a day off, it’s easier to call in sick, isn’t it…? After all the world didn’t come to an end. So, what’s the big deal?
It’s sin – that’s the big deal.
Staying Godly in a Godless Workplace
The following are a few suggestions as to how to practice your faith at work.
- You don’t need to open a beauty salon called “A Cut Above” or a coffee shop called “He Brews” or have to wear a cross or leave a Bible on your desk for others to know that you’re a Christian.
- Don’t Engage in Gossip. Even if your workplace only has five employees, it’s almost a given that at least some of them will engage in gossip from time to time.
- Don’t Be a Hypocrite. One of the greatest hindrances to the gospel’s effectiveness is Christians who act one way at church and another way elsewhere. If you make your employer a billion dollars yet disgrace Jesus in the process, you’re a failure.
- Don’t Hide Away. Our right relationship isn’t just with God, but it’s a right relationship with the world around us.
- Don’t lie in the Workplace – Ever. This seems self-evident for Christians, but that’s where we’re under our greatest temptation.
- Be Righteous.The best witness of your faith is to live it. Treat others as you would like to be treated, be kind, and do everything with love. This doesn’t mean that you have to meekly accept any wrongs at work or to avoid. “If the salt loses its saltiness, it’s good for nothing.”
- Be Hopeful. People of hope don’t lie about the reality of the world, but they are pressing on toward a new day. They inject positive direction in every dark situation.
- Be Faithful. Christians can explain their faith to others confidently and give attractive examples of the Christian life–even in just doing their jobs well. There’s no such thing as a private faith.
- Be About God’s Business and Know God’s Word. After all the Bible is more a love letter than it is a rulebook, more a reliable compass than it is a measuring rod, more a liberating gift than a heavy restraint.
- Be Merciful. Your ability to walk rightly, is not a prowess gained. It is a gift supplied by a loving, merciful God who is shaping us into the image of his Son.
- Be Prayerful. There will be people who do not like you for any number of reasons. Make it a practice to pray for the people that don’t seem to like you, who you don’t really get along with, or who just always seem to have something snarky to say to or about you.
- Be Relational. When you are asked, or ordered, to do something that causes turbulence in your Christian conscience, ask questions.
- Be Genuine. People of faith are pure in their motives and dealings with others. They don’t put on airs or sniff the air for hints of sinful behavior.
- Be Businesslike, But Not All Business. Have a laugh. Not only does laughing relieve stress, but it improves teamwork. Laughing on the job is not wasting time. It’s keeping work in its proper perspective and treating colleagues like human beings instead of tools.
- Be a Risk Taker. I realise this somewhat contradicts some of the last points, but the Christian life rests in that tension between risk and prudence. Here’s a hint, safe will always be boring, risks will always be exciting, and closets will always be dark.
- Never Forget Who You’re Really Working For Ultimately. Jesus Christ is our boss, and all our actions on the job should bring glory and honor to Him. God planted us in our current job for a particular reason. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).