We thank God for every believer whom the Lord of the harvest has called away from secular work to serve Him as an evangelist, whether at home or abroad. These brethren often labor in obscurity and loneliness as they travel far from their homes and families, carrying the gospel to the lost. Our prayers are with them as they offer themselves to God in that capacity.
Many of us, though, will spend more waking hours in the workplace than in any other place during our lives. Must we sit at home and only long for the same calling and ability as they? Can we not be evangelists where the Lord of the harvest has placed us? Our workplace is a veritable mission-field. It abounds with unique opportunities to reach out to unbelievers and believers alike, many of whom are sensitive to spiritual voids in their lives.
We will examine this subject from three aspects: that of the employee, that of the employer, and that of the self-employed with no employees. We will first consider the believer as an employee; in a subsequent paper we will look at the employer or self employed Christian.
The principles that overshadow all of these aspects are personal testimony and reputation. Remember, we will spend several hours a day with our co-workers, whether employees, employers, customers, clients, or vendors. They will observe our conduct continually, and the effects of that will influence their willingness to accept and believe any word of gospel we might speak to them. If my conduct denies the power of godliness (2 Tim 3:5), if my behavior isn’t altered by my faith in Christ, why should they believe that such faith could alter the eternal destiny of a soul?
Our testimony and reputation must precede our verbal witness. Then, when the opportunity is there, a few simple words could win a soul. “A word spoken in due season, how good is it,” (Prov 15:23). James, who teaches us so much about the dangers of the wrong use of the tongue (James 3), also reminds us of the necessity of proving our faith by our conduct (James 2:14-26). If I come to work complaining about the weather, the government, the road construction I had to drive through that morning, and the recent escalation of property tax, and then later I’m promoting the peace I have with God, the joy of following His will, the confidence I have in His provision for me … Need I wonder that they won’t listen to me? If I extol the virtues of forgiveness of sins, but show my co-worker how to cheat the time clock, or show my employees how I’ve learned to cheat the IRS, will I next tell them that if they take Christ as their Savior, they’re likely to become just like me? No surprise then, if they say “Thanks, but no thanks.”
I’m An Employee
(2 Kings 5:1-14, “And she said unto her mistress…”).
Given the godless, materialistic atmosphere of the day in which we live, witnessing in the workplace calls for wisdom and precaution. If an action of mine causes my employer to land in court to explain it to a judge, it’s not likely I’ll be doing much gospel preaching either at work or in the courtroom. We need to ask God for wisdom and discernment as we endeavor to use our working hours to bring glory and honor to Him.
As an employee I should bear in mind that my employer is in business for the purpose of making a profit at providing services or producing materials and commodities which he will market. Regardless of my opinions concerning his methods of doing this, his perception of me will be based on how he sees me as contributing to these goals. His goals and aspirations may not run parallel to mine, but I must remember that I am subject to him in the workplace. It will help us if we understand what is foremost in the mind of most managers/employers. They have loan payments to make, government regulations to meet, customers’ expectations to satisfy, competitors to out-think, last year to analyze, next year to wonder about, and on and on. The more understanding I am of these demands that are upon him, and the more responsive I am in helping him by performing my duties to the best of my ability (Eph 6:5-8, Col 3:22-24, 1 Pet 2:18), the more likely he will be to lend an ear to me when I speak to him of spiritual things. We are not advocating that an employee needs to do anything and everything asked of him without any regard for right or wrong. If an employer/manager asks me to do something that is wrong, or something that breaches my ability to obey God’s Word, that in itself is an opportunity to gently present him with the Scriptural teachings that govern my conduct, and explain the reason I can’t do such a thing with a clear conscience before God. If he fires me for refusing to do wrong for him, I can rest assured that the Lord will undertake for my needs. Let us be characterized by righteousness and godliness in the workplace.
As I think of the little maid that waited on Naaman’s wife, I see a beautiful picture of God’s working through an employee. She was carried away and held in slavery against her will, and the political unrest that precipitated it was completely beyond her doings. Yet, instead of complaining, she dutifully labored in that house, establishing a reputation with her mistress, so that when the need was felt she could speak the words directing her master to healing. Her testimony and conduct must have been very credible, for her spoken word brought about a great deal of activity, which ultimately led to the work of God in healing the leprous captain. We never are told what became of the little maid, but her example to us has become eternal in the pages of God’s Word.