Most of the people I know came to faith through their churches, their pastors or close friends. My story’s a little different. I came to faith through a coworker, while working on Wall Street.
When I first started working on Wall Street, I was suffocated by unrealistic expectations, a misconstrued view of success and a lack of self worth. I grew up in the church, but my understanding was shallow, legalistic and compartmentalized. I didn’t know what a relationship with Jesus meant, nor, quite frankly, did I really care. I just knew I wanted to get promoted, be well-liked and make money.
But because one of my coworkers chose to get to know me, shared his life with me and invited me into his community, I got to hear the good news of the Gospel. My life was forever changed. His simple obedience to invite God into every area of his life, including his finance job, shows that you too can minister to others in your career - no matter what industry you’re in.
And you can imagine, that's kinda why I'm passionate about ministry in the workplace.
But, I know it can be scary. How do you engage coworkers without ruining relationships? How do you share without imposing beliefs and forcing a "conversion" on them? And how do you not get in trouble with HR in the meantime?
Lots of things to consider. But it's important and we're all called to share about the grace, sacrifice and love of Jesus.
Here are three ways to talk about God in the workplace without offending or scaring your colleagues away:
Be a whole person
Whatever happens in your professional life impacts your private life. And whatever happens in your private life impacts your professional life. Showing our scars and being a little vulnerable will help you build trust with colleagues. Not only that, it will actually make you both more engaged employees and more likely to stay in your job for longer. Companies like this. So, if you're acting like a whole person in the workplace and you are a Christian, it should naturally flow from you. It should influence how you make decisions. It should affect how you interact with others. It should be fairly obvious that you are a believer. For me, I never was imposing my beliefs on people. I simply was honest and shared. I shared what I was doing that weekend (ie: going to church, attending a bible study, etc.). People were curious and asked questions, gave their thoughts and a relationship was formed. I've had amazing conversations about faith and life and why Jesus is so important to me. I simply shared my experience and let God do the rest.
Invite. And keep inviting.
My coworker invited me to a church-related function. I said no. He asked again, kindly prompting me. I said no again. After a couple of conversations back and forth, I finally agreed. Thank goodness he wasn’t scared to keep asking. Now, that doesn't mean you have to invite them to church. Sure, that's awesome! It might just mean inviting them to a gathering you're having at your apartment where they can meet other Christians. Maybe it's inviting them to an event being held at church, dialoguing on race and religion and culture. You could even invite them to a bible study. Entry points start with an ask. Again, let God do the rest.
Lend an ear
Just be a friend. I know for me, some of the best relationship-building moments I've had with coworkers was when I just listened. I didn't even say anything. Sometimes people need to feel like they aren't alone. They may ask for advice, and then is your opportunity to share how you approach the situation, how God impacts that thought process and why you feel more free because of it. It's simply speaking truth when you're prompted. No need to shove it down someone's throat. Relationships are the only way to minister to people in the workplace. Trust. Vulnerability. And Openness without Judgment or Condemnation. Just lend an ear.
It's really easy to compartmentalize your work-life from your faith-life. But the question remains - are you missing out on your own mission field? Mission work doesn’t solely belong to pastors and overseas missionaries. The beauty of intertwining faith and work is that your specific, non-ministry-related career can still be impactful, evangelical and glorifying to God.