Power Makes the Difference

If you haven’t figured out how to invite God into your work environment you are not alone. From your church experience you may have gotten the notion that your primary job at work (or everywhere, for that matter) is to evangelize. For most this means confronting others at their point of disbelief, show them why their reason for disbelief is woefully inadequate, share your powerful personal testimony about Jesus, and close the deal with a ‘believer’s prayer.’

 Photo Credit: jambox998 via Compfight

 Photo Credit: jambox998 via Compfight

Although I am embarrassed to admit it, that tension is typical of much of my workplace experience.

For many years prior to becoming a teenager, I would join others at our church for a Saturday morning evangelism invasion of neighborhoods. At that time, evangelism was primarily aimed at getting other denominations to convert to my denomination rather than trying to help non-believers know their God.

I believe that is where I developed my phobia of doors and big dogs. Before puberty hit me, I had been hit in the face by more doors and chased by more big dogs than I care to recall. As brave as one had to be to do this type of evangelism, it was neither effective or rewarding. It seemed that Saturday rubbed harshly against the coming of Sunday but as soon as Sunday was over, everyone was free to go to work for the week and wait for our next Saturday morning attack on their neighborhood.

You may not have had this sort of experience. That’s they way we did it a long time ago. I really don’t recommend it now and in hindsight I’m doubtful that it was effective then. For me it affirmed that their was some type of warfare between what happened on Sunday and what happened on the other six days of the week.

Later on in the places where I worked I was often referred to as ‘preacher.’ Whether I was the department head or a strappling, it was not so much because I continued to confront people ‘evangelistically’ but, for the most part, my lifestyle was markedly different than most of those with whom I worked. Still, most of those conversations went back to differences in practice and outlook as informed by denominational doctrines.

It seemed that usually, when it came to religious discussions, I was in opposition to others, even if they expressed some sort of biblical faith. It isn’t surprising that I didn’t find the Bible particularly relevant to the workplace at that time. In fact, beyond the invisible moral agreements we held in common by our faith in spite of our denominational differences, it seemed destructive.

Then one day, over 30 years ago, instead of a denominational challenge, a co-worker gave me a present. She offered the present based on our mutual interest in and concern for the things of Jesus. She was the first person I met that was more interested in ‘sharing’ her faith rather than arguing it. Her gift to me was a book by Josh McDowell by the title of More Than a Carpenter.

Her peaceful approach caught me by surprise. How could I receive something from somebody with whom I may not be in full doctrinal agreement? I was grateful but had to think it over. I was totally disarmed. Could it be that we could be allies in the workplace when we were not allies in the worship place? It took me a long time to figure that out, since my faith had been totally segregated and separated from any real world usefulness. Again, I am somewhat ashamed to admit it, in spite of my bold proclamations of belief, I may not have been a very attractive example that any of my coworkers would have wanted to follow.

Today it seems much easier for us of differing denominational backgrounds to join together as allies in the workplace. Having become a minority we find ourselves isolated. It seems that our ‘witness’ is now to those who not only don’t believe in God but don’t think anything at all like we do. If we find a person that professes some sort of faith, we are just glad for the company.

Here is the next rub: there are still many of us who have a faith but we hide it, on the one hand, because we don’t know how to appropriately share it, or on the other hand, because there is no real distinction in us – the way we live and how we make decisions – that makes our faith worth sharing.

Imagine what faith looks like to the non-believer; imagine what their view of us might be. Dealing with the second rub above first, why would our faith have any attraction to them at all? Wouldn’t it just be another preference that doesn’t really add any value to life? How would it improve their life at all? In fact, if anything, it would just seem to be an anchor that drags behind robbing their life of its unrestricted joy.

Consider that if If they have never witnessed any practical way faith makes your life better why should they consider it beyond an interesting idea to be considered over drinks? What I have learned is this: unless someone else can see how my faith improves my life, why would they want it?

This reminds me of the vacuum cleaner salesman that came into our house, threw a jar full of dirt on the floor with the bold promise that he would eat it with a spoon if his vacuum cleaner didn’t pick up every last particle. He was so focused on revealing the merits of his machine that he lost sight of the obvious fact that we had no electricity. As powerful as his argument was the truth of it had not been demonstrated to us. Unfortunately, that left an awful taste in his mouth. Such has been my experience with evangelism.

But what if that same person saw you step through the trials of life and death; health and illness; joy and sorrow; success and failure? These are all the same things they walk through on a routine basis. Instead of seeing you hopeless or fearful or depressed or anything else, what if they saw you as you moved your life and family forward – not being knocked down or out by your most severe trials? What if they saw the quality of your work as proof of your on-the-promotions. What if they saw the integrity of your choices as an expression of your concern toward them? What if they saw leadership in you that built them up instead of tearing them down? What if they saw you as a follower that made them a better leader?

What if, instead of hearing a theoretical argument about faith, they saw in you a powerful testimony because your faith was connected to its power source? What if your life was such an example of faith that they were naturally drawn to it because they saw it provide for you everything they want and need for themselves in all the areas of life?

That’s what I’m talking about. A faith that, instead of being attacked by dogs, receives a wide open door of welcome. Living this kind of faith is rare. But when you take that to work with you everyday; when you take that with you into all of your circles of influence, the world will begin to lean toward you and, in a whisper, inquire: “What is the reason of the hope that is in you?” Answer that with the Power to which you are connected and you will never have to eat the dirt of failed promises.

That’s evangelism that doesn’t suck!

It’s your turn to share.  Please scroll down and leave your response to today’s discussion question.

What has been your experience with workplace discussions? Do you make allies or enemies? Does your walk agree with your words?

Charlie Blair,
Chief Engagement Officer