A few weeks ago I attended a meeting outside of the office with a colleague of mine. We work in different departments of the same company. While we were waiting for the other participants to arrive, I decided to make casual conversation by asking him how he'd spent a recent public holiday.
He replied that he had been helping out the youth group at his church with a project. My immediate reaction was: "You're a Christian?! So am I!" I felt instant elation knowing there was someone else seeking to serve God in the secular work environment. There was a connection. We were on the same team all along and didn't know it. I thought about my previous interactions with the colleague over the past year since I began working at the company.
This co-worker always kept his cool in stressful situations, approached his job with diligence, communicated respectfully, was personable, reliable and went above and beyond the call of duty. He was a good example for Christ at work. So my discovery that he was a Christian made sense.
But then I thought: "Why did it take a whole year for me to find out he was a Christian?" and "how many more of us are there?" I imagined employees who were Christians, unbeknownst to me, quietly living the Christian life "in secret" as far as their other colleagues were concerned. More sobering was the next question: "how many of my co-workers know that I am a Christian?"
It's time for Christians to emerge from the closet.
What I admire about Muslims
In contrast, people of other religious backgrounds seem to have no fear in speaking about what they believe. If you work, study or otherwise socially interact with a Muslim, chances are, everyone in that person's world knows she or he is a Muslim. They are bold and unashamed about what they believe. They freely talk about Allah, the rituals of prayer, fasting and what the Quran says to anyone who expresses an interest. I had the benefit of knowing and learning a lot from the Muslim friends I met when I lived in New Zealand.
The second thing I admire about Muslims is that to them their religion is not a joke. Its requirements and tenets are taken very seriously. It gets their full commitment.
Christians can learn quite a bit from them.
Blab about Jesus!
So how does this translate into real life? Consider the following:
- Think about someone you've interacted with at work for some time but have never spoken to about God before. What do you think their reaction would be if you told them this week that you were a Christian?
- When was the last time you gossiped about God's goodness? Did something great happen recently that you told all your work colleagues about but you failed to add that it happened because God blessed you or performed a miracle?
- On Monday mornings, when you're asked "how was your weekend?" do you use that as opportunity to talk about how powerful the sermon was at church, what the pastor said and how great it felt to be in the House of the Lord?
- When you're all gathered in the lunchroom or at the water cooler discussing the latest episode of a popular reality TV show, a salacious drama, fun party, social event or the most recent political scandal, do you tactfully and respectfully interject a "God-view" on the worldview your co-workers express? In your contributions to the conversation on these topics do you demonstrate how Biblical principles are still relevant to everyday life?
- Are you known at work for having a good attitude, always speaking positively and building people up?
- Do you know who the Christians at your workplace are? Can you organise or join a prayer group at work (or one outside of the office or via email if your employer's policies prevent such religious gatherings on company property) and pray for the work environment, your fellow employees, your customers, suppliers, productivity and the company? Just like how God blessed Egypt and other places because of the presence of His Children, the Israelites, so He blesses the company where you and your fellow Christians are His ambassadors. You have a responsibility to pray and intercede for your company.
Jesus said in Matthew chapter 10 verses 32 to 33 (New International Version):
"Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven."
Some Bible translations say "confess" instead of "acknowledge", but the message is the same. God is saying in essence:
"Speak up for me! Don't remain silent as if you don't know what salvation is, haven't experienced my forgiveness and the day-to-day grace and mercy I have shown you in our loving relationship. Let the persons whom you spend your work days with know they can have God-conversations of their own and that I desire to show them who I am and how big my love for them is."
That's food for thought. No need to chew on it alone though: share it with the person at the desk, cubicle or office next to you.
Sharma considers herself a child of the Caribbean, having visited, studied, worked and lived in several Caribbean islands. But when she arrived in New Zealand, she discovered that she is also a kiwi at heart. She holds a PhD in Law from the Victoria University of Wellington.
Sharma Taylor's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/sharma-taylor.html