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7 Practical Ways to Be a Light in Your Workplace

We spend most of our day at work. If we’re going to be good witnesses for Christ, “being a light in our workplace” would be a natural place to start, wouldn’t it?

But sometimes that sounds a lot more feasible on a Sunday after an encouraging sermon, than it does after several days in an exhausting or abrasively unchristian work environment.

So how can we go on displaying good works that would make our coworkers want to turn and glorify God (Matthew 5:16)? While daunting, it’s not impossible. Let’s take a look at seven practical ways we can bring the light of Christ to our workplace!

 

1. Affirm – Tell others that what they do matters

It’s easy to recognize laziness or incompetence in other people that causes more work for us. But how often do we go out of our way to recognize the positive impact of another person’s work?

Did your boss provide you with helpful feedback on a project? Have you noticed any strengths in the trainee you’ve been working with? Do you have a certain coworker you can rely on for clear, organized work?

Let’s learn to pick up on small details that we can recognize and affirm in others in order to encourage and lift them up!

 

2. Admit – Own up when you’ve made a mistake

Especially in our workplace, it can be tempting to cover up our mistakes. But instead of working to advance our own careers, let’s humbly own our mistakes, and work hard to reduce any potential negative impact of them.

By doing this, we have the opportunity to promote Christlike humility (and not ourselves).

 

3. Apologize – Use your shortcomings to point others to Christ

We’ve all had that day when work makes us feel like pulling our hair out. In these moments of feeling overwhelmed by the demands of work or frustration at other’s actions, we’re prone to lose our patience or speak carelessly.

Whether our coworkers thought it significant or not, we can apologize for our short tempers, ask forgiveness where necessary, and most importantly, clarify the kind, gentle and patient character we are called to display.

 

4. Appreciate – Talk about things you are thankful for

Complaining is one of the easiest conversation starters. But we can vocalize our thankfulness instead!

Maybe we have one good friend at work, or an opportunity to get involved in a new project. We can be thankful for the work skills we’re developing that will be useful later in life!

In practice, thankfulness will contribute to a more positive work environment, and it’ll also help us train our minds to count as well as thank God for the blessings we have.

 

5. Assist – Offer your personal time to help a coworker

When five o’clock rolls around, many of us couldn’t be more thrilled to both mentally and physically check out of work.

But it can be really impactful to consider using some of that precious non-work time to serve the people we work with every day. Whether it’s offering to help a coworker move into a new home, or bringing a meal to someone recovering from surgery, let’s show God’s love to our coworkers by serving them with our time whenever we can!

 

6. Accompany – Find creative ways to build relationships

There are plenty of work-friendly and appropriate ways to be more social with our coworkers. Invite them to a sports game, or organize a work-friendly baby shower for a soon-to-be parent! Perhaps a new restaurant nearby could inspire lunch with coworkers.

Making time to socialize with our coworkers creates space to build more than surface deep relationships, which is the best springboard for us to share the gospel with them.

 

7. Advocate – Take prayer for your coworkers seriously

It’s easy to forget that our coworkers have their own personal lives and struggles. We can look around even a small office, and know that plenty are struggling with some combination of infidelity, addiction, family conflict, or depression. It’s often not visible.

So, let’s take prayer for our coworkers seriously. As we pray for God to help them, we can remember that the greatest help they can know is God Himself. In the same spirit that Jesus prayed for those who persecuted Him, let’s look at those around us, and pray diligently that they may come to know God (Luke 23:34).

 

If we think about it, our coworkers are some of the people we have the most opportunity to share the gospel with, or display Christ-like character to. So let’s enter our workplaces with a renewed sense of intentionality to share Jesus’ light in all that we do!

Am I what I do?

Written by Clare Lee, Singapore

This was the question that was explored over the pulpit at my church a while ago. We learned that Christians are not defined by their jobs (or lack of), but by their identities in Christ; Christians were once slaves to the world (Galatians 4:3), but have now been adopted as children of God (Galatians 4:6-7).

Yet that exhortation didn’t bring me any comfort. If this was true, why then did it seem as though I was being treated differently—even by believers—because of my vocation?

In Singapore, the default introduction that one gives on meeting a new face is to state one’s occupation at the time. And, depending on what you say, the response you get can be different, as I experienced.

I spent some time in teaching some years ago. Upon hearing that I was a teacher, people would tell me that I was doing noble work and praise me for devoting my time and energy to molding young minds. It didn’t matter that as a non-graduate teacher, I did the same work as my graduate peers, but with half the pay—which, if I may be completely honest, was demoralizing.

Later, I spent some time helping out with holiday programs at my church’s student care. I felt that this was similar to my previous job. Though it didn’t require me to mark assignments, I was still interacting with young people from the same age group. Yet I felt like I was now viewed differently, as people questioned why I had made such a choice.

Once, a pupil even told me that I “should be having the time of my life” as a young adult instead of helping out at a student care. While I was taken aback by the comment, I calmly explained that every job that was respectfully done, was a worthy job to have. Yet, I couldn’t help mulling over the thought: If even a child had a preconceived notion of which job was respectable and which wasn’t, what more an adult?

I tried my hand at freelance writing for some time too, after a friend offered the opportunity. I learned much from it, as the experience gave me a greater awareness of current affairs and taught me about time management—working without the fixed routine of an office job. I was discouraged, however, by the unsolicited opinions that came my way. People kept telling me that freelance writing wasn’t a profitable job, and shared about opportunities they felt were more beneficial, like private tutoring.

I think I would have been less affected if these sentiments had come only from non-Christian acquaintances, but they were echoed by people in church, even those I trusted (including those in respected positions). Although I was thankful that freelance writing was a good match for my interests, skills, and personality, my initial gratitude later turned into discouragement and despair, and I started to wonder: Why can’t people just be happy for me in what I do?

Presently, I write for a Christian website. While I am not earning as much as I used to, people generally react favorably to what I do. I guess this is due to the “nobility” of the job—it is a platform for gospel ministry. I am grateful for this privilege. However, I also realize that it is no different from the other jobs I have worked at in the past—each one of them was a platform to be a gospel witness and an honest means of income.

Across these different vocations, nothing internal had changed—I possessed the same qualifications, personality and social status as I did when I first started teaching. At the core, I was still fallen, in need of my Savior, but saved by grace. I’m still learning not to take to heart the labels that people put on me as a result of their skewed perceptions of what I do.

These days, I’m learning to rest in the comfort that while my identity (in the eyes of the world) seems to be tied to my profession, in God’s eyes, it never changes. As a child of God, I am neither falsely elevated by a job that society deems prestigious, nor will I lose my standing in God’s sight if I were to hold a less conventional or prestigious job. My identity as God’s child is secure in Him.

Though I live in a society where my perceived worth can fluctuate, nothing inherent about me has changed. I am valued for who I am by God, and I can rest assured that I remain a beloved child of the Most High.

And for that, I am thankful!

How Can Good Come Out of Job Loss?

Have you ever lost your job? I have. It feels horrible.

My story isn’t one of rejection. I didn’t get fired, so much as the job I had no longer existed. The company chose to cancel a conference it was running, and I was its director. Since my role was no longer necessary, I no longer had a job. I didn’t get fired—yet it hurt just as much as if I had been.

When you’re in that situation, it’s hard to see any light at the end of the dark tunnel. It feels like your world is crashing down around you. You find yourself asking thousands of questions, whether in your head or out loud. How will I pay my bills? What’s next? What did I do to deserve this? How could they? Why would God allow this to happen? Will anyone ever want to hire me again after this failure? If you keep a cool head, you might avoid yelling and throwing things, but the anger will probably still be there.

I experienced all of that. The questions. The anger. But I also experienced something different. I call it “the hidden option”. I experienced hope for greater possibilities even though I couldn’t see the hope clearly.

I’m convinced that God can take everything negative in our lives and do something creative with it. In Genesis, the story was told of Joseph, sold into slavery by his brothers. When the tables turned and Joseph triumphed in spite of their actions, he said this to them: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” (Gen 50:20 ESV) God took their evil and turned it to good.

 The thing is, I believe God has already created the opportunities for beauty in our lives. It’s up to us to find them. God seems to encourage us to be active and diligent in our search of both Him and His answers—and He promises to respond. In Matthew 7:7 NLT, Jesus told us, “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” Could it be that God wants us to grow in our persistence and our dependence on him? Could it be that God has hidden possibilities in your life, and He wants you to keep digging for them?

When there seems to be nothing good in your job loss, I believe there are hidden options for what can come next.

I have a friend who had this experience when his world crashed down around him. He was a communications director at a large, internationally-known church. His pastor was caught in the middle of scandal, and it was his responsibility to defend both the church and his pastor. My friend did his best, but he experienced fiery arrows heading his way from every direction. News outlets even quoted him, skewing his words to further crucify the pastor and his church. It felt like a hopeless situation.

It got even worse when the pastor stepped down. The church dissolved, and my friend was left without a job. Not only that, he felt like he had a black mark on his name because of his involvement in the scandal. Who would want to work with a person caught in the middle of all that failure?

He candidly related his story to me over coffee one day, and I could tell he felt like that part of his life was a complete waste. He was doing his best to move past that situation and hoped to let that part of his life fade into obscurity.

I saw his pain, but I didn’t see that season of his life as a failure. In fact, I saw it as a stepping stone that God had prepared for him. He had first-hand experience of something that nearly every megachurch pastor fears. They all fear that one sound bite taken out of context. They fear the high-ranking leader in their church exposed for secret sin. That’s not something many pastors know how to even begin preparing for, which is where my friend enters the picture.

He saw his experience as something to sweep under the rug, but I saw it as something that could be used to help these churches. He could teach these pastors the things he did right and the things he did wrong. He could help them prepare for potential troubles and put plans in place for the worst-case scenario. Most churches value protecting their congregation from the media storm they’ve seen happen at other congregations, so it’s a service that would be in high demand.

As I shared my idea with him, I saw hope enter his eyes again. When I shed light on the hidden option, he became excited once again. When the world seemed to burst in flames around him, there was a brief clearing in the smoke that could suddenly help it all make sense again. The hope was there, he just needed some help to see it.

No matter the circumstance for your losing your job, I believe there is a hidden option out there for you. It’ll be hard to see it because of the emotions swirling around the situation. But if you’re willing to look for it, you can find it. Here are some ideas to help you find the hidden option when you can’t seem to find it.

  1. Ask God to show you the hidden options in this situation.
  2. Talk to someone who has been in your situation, has successfully navigated job loss or what seems like failure, and will encourage you. Ask them what they see for your life.
  3. Look for the thin glimmer of light, no matter how small, and move toward it.

Life isn’t over. Your ability to earn a living isn’t over. God can turn the situation around. I’ve seen Him do it in my life and in the life of my friends. I know He can do it for you too.

Landing in the Pig Pen Instead of My Dream Job

Written By Ellen Bargh, UK

As I walked into the farm yard in my pink-striped wellies and oversized farm gear, I was hopeful that this job would only be for a couple of weeks.

A friend and I had always joked about me going to work at his family farm in UK, my home country. It had always seemed ridiculous to me. I couldn’t work on a farm; I worked with people, not animals. I liked the comfort of being inside—not getting mucky and cold.

But here I was, working on a farm while waiting to fulfil my dream of living abroad. Over the past six years of studying in Canada, I had started to build my life there; I had friends and even my own apartment. When a job I had desired for a long time became vacant, it seemed like everything was coming together. The job involved working with students and doing administration. I loved the thrill of tasks and details as well as talking to people and helping them as they went through their years in college.

The week before I was due to fly back to the UK, I was interviewed for the position of Assistant to Dean of Students. All I needed was a visa to move to Canada to start my dream life.

But things didn’t work out as I wanted. Those couple of weeks on the farm turned into a couple of months, and my dream slowly slipped away. In the end, I did not qualify for the visa, and the job was filled by someone else.

Now, instead of my fun pink-striped wellies, I had proper green farm wellies. Reality had set in that I was going to be there for what seemed like the long haul. Instead of sitting in a nice lovely office, I was in a pig pen shovelling muck. Instead of listening to students talk excitedly about starting college, I was deafened by the squeals of piglets ringing constantly in my ears. This wasn’t what I dreamed my life would be after finishing my degree.

As I drove to work each day, often with tears streaming down my face, I would ask God why He had me working at a farm with pigs rather than with people who needed Jesus. What use was I in a pig pen? I wasn’t telling anyone about Jesus or working with children. How could this be what God wanted for me?

It was a daily battle to go to work and take my frustrations with the mundane to God. I wrestled with this for months. I was weary of what seemed like meaningless work. But the longer I stayed, the more honest I became with myself and God. God began to soften my heart and show me that He wanted me to talk to Him all day while I was working. He wanted me to love Him for Him—not because of what He does for me or because He could give me a better life.

I looked to the Bible for comfort, remembering that popular verse from Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

I started reading Jeremiah to find out more. I was shocked by the verses that came before verse 11. Jeremiah 29:5-7 says: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

God had sent the Israelites into exile. And while they were there, they were to build a life and do good to the place they were in, even though they didn’t want to be there or thought they shouldn’t be there.

As I went over these verses in my mind, I began to see the good things God had put before me in the place I was in. I was working with a wonderful family, and I had an amazing church family where I was asked to be involved in youth and children’s work. Of course, my desire to work with people was still there. And though my desire to be in a different job didn’t fade, I gave what I had to where I was at.

Recently, I read an Our Daily Bread booklet on contentment where the writer Gary Inrig writes, “Contentment, then, is not about self-sufficiency but Christ-sufficiency. It is not resignation but satisfaction. It is not acceptance of the status quo or surrender of ambition but submission to Christ and His purposes. Godly contentment isn’t about complacency or passivity or an otherworldly detachment from life . . . It is a deep-seated satisfaction that is the gift of Christ.”

A good job was never going to give me the contentment I wanted. It was only by looking to Jesus that I could find contentment and peace. The more time I dug into the things God gave me in the place I was at, I realised it was Him that I needed, and not a job.

Here’s three things that helped me to be content:

 

1. Give thanks

Give thanks daily for specific things God has given us each day—not just in the good times but all the time (1 Thessalonians 5:18). When we thank God, we focus on the good things, and soon envy and discontentment fade.

2. Give what you have in every situation

Even if we aren’t where we want to be, we can seek the good of the people or place we are in. Rather than tell ourselves we just need to get through this period of time till God takes us to the next thing, we can give ourselves fully to people or tasks during the time we are in “exile” (Jeremiah 29:5-6).

 

3. Seek godly characteristics rather than possessions or status

If we are always focusing on what is next—the next job, the next relationship or the next house—we aren’t focusing on becoming more like Christ. It doesn’t matter where we are, God’s will for us is to be like Jesus.