The Christian in the Workplace: As an Executive

With this article on the Christian Executive, we begin a very practical series on the believer in the work place. Regulations imposed by governmental bodies coupled with the diversity of the workforce with absence of moral standards have created new difficulties and dilemmas for the believer whether as employer or employee. We are pleased to present an article by our brother Oliver who held a very responsible position in a large company but maintained an excellent testimony.

Is it possible for an exercised Christian, associated with an assembly, to hold the responsibility of an executive or company officer? What about the matter of ethical practice with customers and employees? What about the need for socializing? What about the matter of administration of policy? What about employees that work for you whose life style is contrary to the Word of God? What about language? The questions could continue.

These are important questions, and it is well that they are asked. The time, however, to ask these questions is not when one is presented with the possibility of becoming an executive, but rather at the beginning of a career. Early experience with God and the facing of these questions in youth will set the course for one’s life and will correctly answer many perplexing challenges along the way. Too often, thought is not given to these questions when one is seeking employment or attempting to make advancement in a position.

In Colossians 3, Paul instructs the believers relative to assembly life in vs.8-17, home life in vs.18-21, and business life in vs.22-25. He begins, however, with the personal life in vs.1-7. Building on the truth that “ye were raised,” a fact of our salvation, he says, “Seek those things that are above.” Associated with things above is a Person, “Where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” This reminds us of His supremacy, authority and power. This “seek” should be our “Aspiration.” In vs.2 he says, “Set your affections (mind) on things above.” This will govern the purpose of our mind and will become our Attention. In vs.3 Paul says, “Your life is hid with Christ in God.” When we understand and keep before us that our relationship is Settled eternally, this will clarify our Alliance. In vs.4 the writer reminds us that what truly Satisfies is “Christ our life.” This has linked with it, Assurance; “Then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.” Coupled with seeking and setting and understanding what is settled and what satisfies is yet another truth to recognize: “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth,” or Silence what should not be our Affiliation.

You may ask, “How does this portion of Scripture answer the questions put forth at the beginning of this article relative to the problems of work life?” From our experience and observation we have found that a child of God who has dealings with the truth of God in early life, forming convictions as a result, is enabled to more easily know how to answer the many decisions he must make in order to honor the Lord. They have experienced the truth of “presenting” concerning which Paul exhorts in Romans 12:1,2. This is not simply truth understood but truth worked out in the life.

I know a Christian who held a responsible position in a large company. The company wanted to move him up further and requested that he attend an Assessment Center where, for a week, industrial psychologists put him through a group of tests and work simulated problems and interviews with a selected group of individuals. After the week, a detailed report went back to the company. Among the multiple pages of favorable report there were a few excerpts which fit in with our thoughts. Under the subject of Motivational Factors, a sentence or two stated, “Mr. X does not possess the strong motivating objectives for career progression that most managers of his level do. He is rather concerned with leading a good basic Christian life. This seems to simplify the pressures on him and make his life choices much easier.” Again, under the subject of Emotional Maturity Factors, the evaluator wrote, “Mr. X seems to be a very stable person. Because he has defined life’s priorities so well, he probably suffers less from anxiety than most people.” The Christian had learned years before, from the Word of God and prayerful exercise, what is most important in life: pleasing the Lord, valuing the Word of God and His gathering center, his responsibility to family and what would be the long range effects of decisions which he would make. These basic convictions must be worked out before we are faced with responsibility.

In thinking of the questions first asked in this article, I must keep in mind that it is essential to begin with a spiritual exercise as to the type of work in which I engage and the honesty of the employer for whom I work. Titus 3:14 reminds us that we “should profess honest trades” (marginal reading). Not all types of employment are suitable for the child of God. Parents should keep this in mind as they attempt to steer their children in courses of study. Going back to our consideration of Colossians 3:9 we read, “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds.” We should not engage in lying to a customer for our employer in order to accomplish our job. Your place of responsibility may require you not to divulge trade information, but the intent should not be to deceive. Some may question how to accomplish this in light of the problems maintaining employment. I would recommend that you tell the one to whom you report that you can’t fulfill your responsibility in a way that is deceptive. It may cost you your job. But better to have a clear conscience before God than to cooperate with deception. “Not with eye service as men pleasers; but in singleness of heart fearing God” (Col 3:22).

What about socializing? What about joining with the employees in a golf league, a bowling league, attending a baseball game and other such activities? Some of these activities may seem innocent and not harmful. Unfortunately even though some nice people may be involved, you will find that the activity takes you into situations where there is often drinking, off color stories, wagering on the outcome, and actions which would compromise your position as a Christian. These activities often encroach upon your time for meeting with the Lord’s people or upon your own personal time in preparation for meetings. You may counter with the thought that it could give you opportunities for witnessing. You may, however, get that opportunity in many other ways. Possibly you could invite one over for a picnic or dinner. You could show them kindness in some other way by assisting them in a need which may arise. It is true that we are in this world. But the Lord Jesus prayed to the Father in John 17:15, “I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from evil.”

What about language? You cannot control all that is spoken around you in the world or the work place even when you are in a place of authority. You can, however, in a polite and kind way express privately to individuals your dissatisfaction with cursing, taking the Lord’s Name in vain and lewd jokes. Your kind and caring spirit and your consistent life can cause people to respect you and either reduce or eliminate altogether the use of vile language. You should try not to embarrass people before their peers or to take a haughty position as you express your conviction. Your work habits and consistency should be in keeping with the requests that you make.

What about employees that practice a life style that is contrary to the Word of God? You certainly cannot condone this, but it doesn’t mean that you cannot treat that person with consideration. As the opportunity arises, you can give them the Gospel. Do not try to point out their sin as your first approach, but based on your consistent testimony lived before them, speak a word in season.

I remember once discharging a young man to long term disability who had AIDS and had a limited time to live. He was a bright individual and had performed well for us. Over a number of years we had sent him gospel tracts with a Holiday greeting, but had never had the opportunity to speak with him personally about his soul. As I concluded most of the paper work which was necessary and spoke about his personal plans and medical treatment, he brought up the subject of dying and meeting God. I then had the opportunity to speak with him in a personal way and to tell him about the need we all had to know our sins forgiven and the purpose of the death of Christ. He listened attentively as I tried to press home the immediacy of the need and the availability of an immediate salvation. I was able to give him a number of tracts as we parted. I purposely handled the exit interview with a hope that there might be an opportunity to tell him the gospel. I would have liked to be able to tell you that he was saved, but I do not know. He did respond later with a letter of appreciation. I have to leave the seed sown in the Lord’s sovereign hand. His life style was contrary to God’s Word, but I could not ignore him as a soul in need and one whom I believe the Lord could save.

There is probably much more which could be said. In closing, “The Christian as an Executive” is first of all a Christian. If this is kept in mind and understood, and if we have formed spiritual convictions based on the Word of God, then when position requires, we can carry our responsibility in fellowship with God. If we allow the desire to advance or to become popular to have priority, we will compromise the truth of God, resulting in loss of testimony and personal unhappiness. We encourage all those who read these few lines to “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt 6:33). “Buy the truth and sell it not; also wisdom and instruction and understanding” (Prov 23:23).