Work and Evangelism
I became a Christian in the context of a fraternity house in college, and remember the first summer after my conversion attending a camp and learning about how to “grow in my faith by giving it away.” I had that excitement and zeal common to young adult believers. Yet, the reality of faithfully practicing biblical personal evangelism was still not easy. A couple short years later, I entered the workplace, joining my family’s foam business. Still eager to overtly live and share my faith, I was confronted with a dynamic more complex even than a fraternity.
More than 10 years later, I look back at how God has used me to be faithful to this vision and the specific examples of where this has resulted in gospel conversations and kingdom impact, and I have mixed feelings. On one hand, I fight a sense of failure as I consider the fact that I don’t have stories of conversions in my sphere of influence. I still sometimes wonder, do people even know I am a Christian? How many opportunities have I missed to explain the reason for the hope that is within me? Do they understand this vision of God for business, and do they see the impact it is having on the community? Alas, on my own, I can do nothing.
On the other hand, I see God working in ways that are bearing fruit in his timing in profound ways. I see patterns of his grace and hand in my work and interactions, and gospel seeds growing, however slowly from my perspective. The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness (2 Peter 3:9)! Here are a few patterns in which I have seen God use me in the workplace:
Maximizing Windshield Time
Our company has five facilities all in the state of Indiana. While close, this still often creates the need for 2-3 hour road trips. Many times, these trips are taken with coworkers, allowing for otherwise inactive time in the car often referred to as “windshield time.” This can be a great opportunity for casual, yet intentional, conversation that can eventually point towards the gospel. I have taken multiple trips with one coworker, which from time to time would include conversations about church experience, good books, and suffering, but for so long never got to the gospel. After multiple years and maybe a dozen trips together, God gave me the opportunity and courage to finally ask, “Have you ever heard the gospel clearly explained?” The answer was “I guess not,” and so I got to share. The patience of the Lord!
Leaning Into Suffering
Like anywhere on the pilgrimage this side of glory, the secular workplace is rampant with suffering. Colleagues will lose loved ones. Cancer and unspeakable sickness abounds. Longtime co-workers and friends, otherwise healthy, may die in their sleep unexpectedly. These people will experience these things perhaps without Christ, and without a hope in the world. How can we lean into their lives with the gospel? This can be very challenging. It is not the time to explain to someone who does not know Christ the theology of suffering. It may not even be the time to talk about Jesus. Yet loving coworkers by being present with them and encouraging them can have an amazing impact. Sending a thoughtful card should never be underestimated, and can offer an opportunity to share a verse or a word of hope that is sensitive yet clear. Going to the funeral for a coworker’s loved one is powerful. I remember examples in these categories in my career where God has shown me a glimpse of first fruits from simple love to those who are hurting. The final fruit and glory are His!
Leaving a Bible in Your Car
This is so simple! Keep a Bible visible in your car. One time, on the way to lunch, a coworker who is an orthodox Jew, picked up my Bible and showed me the difference in the number of pages between the Old and New Testament. This observation gave me the opportunity to ask whether in his studies he ever consulted the New Testament, if only for a historical perspective. He responded no, he had more than enough material to cover as it is. Granted, this is not a gospel success story, but how often you get to ask an orthodox Jew if they have read the New Testament? God is patient, not wanting any to perish!
What pattern is God using in your work experience to create opportunities for gospel seeds and advancing His kingdom vision in the world? Maybe He wants you to ask unbelieving colleagues to support a Christian fundraising event you are participating in, to include them in your activities outside of work? Perhaps He has given you the platform at a company meeting or event to explain your heart for business, for people, and for seeing the community flourish? Perhaps at dinner with a supplier or customer, the conversation turns to the reason you are in a certain job, or the different sources of inspiration that people rely on (likely other than Christ)? These are only examples. God establishes patterns of grace in the workplace and is patient in fulfilling his promise. Looking for the patterns, remembering God’s larger vision, and courageously speaking out when the opportunity arises can have an immeasurable kingdom impact in a mission field often neglected.