So how shall we then live?
God’s word is complete, providing instructions and illustrations as to how we shall live. His Word covers every human institution, reveals God’s character and His perfect love toward us. As Christ followers or disciples of Christ we seek to model the life that Christ lived for us. The entire new testament and specifically Paul’s letters to the church and his friends are full of exhortations and specific instructions how to follow Christ’s example.
Romans 6:4 – Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Ephesians 4: 17-24 – So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; 19 and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. 20 But you did not learn Christ in this way, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, 22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
In our family we have established a list of core values or core beliefs. It is those statements that describe what we believe and what we stand for. It is impossible to categorize these or separate these from how we live our lives. We cannot have one set of core values that we believe in on Sunday and another that we follow during the week. We cannot have one set of values we believe in at home and another in the workplace. Core values establish who we are and are unchanging. If our actions are not reflective of our core beliefs then we at a minimum deny ourselves and as Christians deny our faith.
When graduating from college I had a fear that the workplace would challenge my values and relatively untested faith. I had a fear that I would be required to participate in activities or be faced with temptations that would lure me into decisions contrary to my values. I determined that I would strive to operate in a way that I would not compromise the values that I stood for and try to learn how to properly live out my faith in the workplace. In my various roles in sales and management and in the various companies and cultures that I operated in I have considered and practiced this strategy. I have made many mistakes and course corrections. I have had men who have walked beside me for decades that I could share my thoughts about how to appropriately live out my faith in a secular workplace. The circumstances of my responsibilities and influence have changed and, as such, my strategies to appropriately live out my Christian faith in the marketplace have evolved. I would submit that there is no “one size fits all” approach to properly being a disciple of Christ in the workplace. The position you hold in the company, the culture in which you operate, the size of the company, the rules of the company, the people in which you work, and the influence that you have all impact the way you should act. In my personal journey located in the “Bible belt”, where being a Christian is common and in my position of leadership in a small privately held company I have come to agree with a few guidelines. Guidelines that are consistent with my calling as a Christian and as a business leader. Guidelines that I believe are appropriate for other men and women in the workplace who wrestle with the question of how then, being a Christian, can I be consistent to the calling of Christ to be His disciple and be an effective producer and leader in the marketplace. Fortunately the Bible has much to say with how we are to operate in the workplace. The early church was made up of laymen. Men who were fishermen, farmers, blacksmiths, herdsmen and other trades that came together as a “church” or body of believers for worship, fellowship and instruction how to be a “Christ follower.” There was no category of “full-time ministry” as if there was a higher calling to be a preacher or pastor. There was no separation between their vocation, community and faith. Family, friends, neighbors, laborers, managers, and landlords came together under the common goal of being Christ followers. They followed the instructions of Christ and the apostles and lived out their faith in all of their lives.
So, How shall we then live? The following are six points to consider and follow to help you be a disciple of Jesus in the workplace.
1. There is no distinction between “full time ministry” and living out our daily life at home, work, worship or recreation.
2. We all have been given gifts by God and are responsible to exercise our gifts and talents to the best of our abilities.
I Corinthians 12:4-7 “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6 There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. 7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
3. We are first called to love others.
I Timothy 1:5 – “But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.”
4. We must earn the right to be heard.
5. We must be living testimonies – I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day.
John 13: 13-15 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord; and [b]you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.
6. Work to a high standard Colossians 3:23 – ”Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men,”
The last part of our 4 part series provides some of my own personal experience and the practical ways I have sought to apply these principles in my workplace. I hope that these provide ideas and inspirations to see your ministry be effective in the life and the relationships you make in every area of your life and work.