Christians in the workplace are often admonished to be mindful of non-Christians who watch them, looking for a difference. The hope is that a non-Christian will see this difference as positive, hope-giving, life affirming and will draw them to Christ. I pray that I reflect Jesus to those with whom I work. For this reason, I choose to live my faith out loud. I hope it makes a difference, but I never know for sure.
That is until I accepted a new position in my office. Here I started working closely with “Shirley,” a dear woman. Shirley does not define herself as Christian, but seems to have some belief in God. She is one of the sweetest and sensitive of God’s creatures I have ever met. We have quickly escalated from co-workers to friends.
Shirley watches Christians—a lot. She categorizes us as well. Those that she observes acting in a way hypocritical to their professed faith are “bad” Christians; those who do not are “good” Christians. I am currently on her “good Christian” list, and therein lies the problem. I am a sinner. I will disappoint her. I can try to fake goodness all of the time, but I think that will make the fall from Shirley’s grace even worse.
So how do I, a Christian in the workplace, act in such a way that is both becoming and authentic? ? How do I demonstrate that while I continue to sin every day, and it is only by the grace of a God (and His son’s death on the cross) I don’t think she fully comprehends (not that I do either) that I portray any goodness at all? While pondering this question, I recollected the children’s song “O Be Careful Little Eyes.” It occurred to me that an adultified (I totally just made that word up) concept of this song could be applied to Christians in the workplace. What do these non-Christians observe about how I see, how I hear, what I say, and what I do that shapes their opinion, not only of m, but of Christians and of (gulp) Jesus?
- Oh be careful little eyes what you see! An outside observer notices is my disposition, first. How do I see the world? What is my outlook, and how does that manifest itself across my face? Do I present a sour mood all of the time? Do I frown more than I smile? Do I appear disgruntled or unfriendly to others? As a Christian, I would hope not! I know when I go through seasons of despair and negativity I will ask myself, “Where is my faith?” I think observers ask the same thing, or take it just a step further. “If her God is so good, why is she so unhappy all of the time?” Ouch. Father, thank You that You are always faithful. Help me to demonstrate my trust in You even when I am going through a rough spot.
- Believe it or not non-Christians monitor how I hear, in a two-fold way. As a follower of Jesus, am I approachable to others? Do I listen to others and show that I care about them? Conversely, when that talk turns ugly—gossip, slander, bitter complaining, am I in the thick of it? Do I join right in? Maybe someone else struggles with me here. I am a writer, and so I love stories. I may not always add to the gossip, but sometimes I am tempted to listen to it. With God’s help, I am learning to walk away from all ugly talk (no matter how juicy it may be), AND doing that in a discreet manner rather than casting judgment on the ones who are participating, because let’s face it—I really want to hear the dirt. Father, God—Give me the patience to listen to and care for others as Jesus does. Let me not be tempted to join in with gossip and tarnish my testimony. Rather than New Year’s resolutions this year, I chose a Bible verse to shape my year. Considering the challenges I would face with my new position at work, it seems obvious that God gave it to me. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Eph 4:29, NIV). What we say to and around non-Christians pretty much defines our faith in their eyes. It would be so easy for me to pat myself on the back when Shirley strokes my ego and tells me what a good Christian I am—if not for the fear of the look upon her face as she discovers I am a filthy rag of a sinner. I know it is not a matter of if but when I will disappoint my sweet friend. In the meantime, I can try to temper that blow by being authentic with my struggles. Telling her when I make mistakes and thanking God in front of her for His grace with an old sinner like me. I admit to her, as often as I can, that doing “good” does not usually come naturally to me—it is the deposit of God in my heart that propels me towards my awkward walk towards righteousness. Lord, keep me humble. Force me to face my struggles in a public way so that others will see Your grace.
- I know that non-Christians scrutinize what I do while I am at work. I may have the loveliest depictions of Scripture verses on my desk and be decked out in cross shaped jewelry, but it does not matter one iota if I can’t be counted on in my job. The Bible says, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” (Ecc 9:10). This means that I have to show up to work, on time, and ready to work hard. I should help others (even if it is “not my job”), and go above and beyond the call of duty. When I look at all that Jesus accomplished during His short ministry, I know that I should never be idle except during times of prayer. Jesus was not lazy, and His whole purpose was to serve others. Does this mean that I need to wash a few feet in my workplace? Yes, I think it does. Talk is cheap. Disciples of Jesus put their money where their mouth is. Holy Spirit, show me where I can do more. Give me opportunities to serve those with whom I work.
Lord knows I am far from having this whole thing figured out. I am honored while I tremble in fear at the opportunity God has given me to witness in my workplace. Woe to me should I ever turn someone off on the prospect of accepting Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. I am so thankful for a God that walks with me each step of my journey, but also goes before me. I thank Him that He is so big that I cannot thwart His plans for His people. I pray for the privilege of helping others walk into His fold while being mindful to be careful of what I see, hear, say and do.
Rhonda Maydwell is new to our contributing staff here at Who’s That Lady! You will hear more about her on June 1st, as we continue to streamline and sassy-fy the website for your reading pleasure. In the meantime, you have a small teaser of Red Carpet Ready Rhonda. The gloves are awesome, aren’t they! I hope you’ve enjoyed her offering.