How To Be a Christian In the Workplace; and How To Deal With Co-workers.
Mel Brooks, the movie producer, said it best, “Life stinks!”
If you have spent any time in the workplace, you will have observed many different kinds of attitudes, personalities, and ways of approaching the job there. We all have different personalities, habits, desires, experiences, and expectations, all converging and conflicting, and the water cooler area becomes a gathering place for hearing the latest gossip, a hotbed of conflict and chaos. Somehow, in the midst of all this, we, as Christians, are called to distinction. This rubs us against the grain of our coworkers and employers, who have conflicting ideas. The Christian enters into a struggle with identity, values, attitudes, and feelings, all producing stress and fatigue.
We are Christians, yet we are also human, and we work with Christians as well as non-Christians. We are material beings who need a livelihood to provide for the daily substance of life. From food and shelter to leisure and entertainment, work becomes a necessary means for us to live and function in society. Work can also be a potential for so much more. A call, a vocation, or a job, whatever you call what you do in between your day of worship and church, whether it be a priest or a fry cook, we all have a purpose. We all have a job. Sometimes, it is the same, sometimes not, as we may be in the wrong place and job. Nevertheless, we have a call to be employed, to function in society, and to behave in that call.
We are also social beings, not just tools or devices, slaves or machines. We are spiritual beings who have been saved by our God and Creator and given the call to be virtuous and righteous. All our experiences, expectations, aptitudes, and attitudes come together in the workplace. And, all of these distinctions converge into our mindset and attitudes at work. So, what is the right attitude and approach with which to do our work? How do we get along with coworkers, bosses, and our God?
Work, Job or vocation is a word we use to start to describe what we do in life, vocation has its root from the Latin verb “to call;” thus, our vocation and job is actually a call, similar to a minister. So we need to understand its role and significance in our life and how we are to be in our vocation as well as what it means in our walk with our Lord. Let us venture into God’s Word and see what He has to say about what we do during the week. What and why we have work and what we are to do in that vocation and how we respond to others around us. The following passages are arranged so you can spend some time in the Word, which will help you to develop a Biblical attitude of work. Also, several thoughts based on Scriptural insights are provided for you to pray about to nudge yourself into being a better person at work. You may discover what we do is not as important as how we do it!
God’s Call For the Employee: Ephesians 6:5-8
You may feel like a slave at work. Or, perhaps you treat others in that way thinking, I am in command. They work for me, and they have to do what I say! But, the key to this passage is the attitude we are to have, that of looking to Christ as our employer so we do our work for Him. Therefore, we are to be our best for His glory, regardless of our circumstances (Rom. 8:17; Phil. 2:1-11).
We may have a paycheck from McDonald’s and a boss who may need some acne treatments, but our ultimate authority and manager is Christ Himself! We show our value--that Christ paid a price for us--so, we in turn can respond with a good work ethic (1 Cor. 7:23). We must adjust our mindset to see work as an opportunity to please Him, and in so doing, be a blessing to those around us.
As an employee we are called to Diligence! This allows us to operate with our best for Christ’s highest with excitement and passion in order to complete our work and call from the Lord. It is practical obedience, which is the loving of our call and the pursuing of our work so we are doing our best for His glory. (Prov. 10:4; Rom. 12:11; Colossians 3:23)
Here are some more Scriptures about being an employee: Exodus 23:12; 35:2; Proverbs 10:26; 25:13; Ecclesiastes 2:4; 5:12; Colossians 3:17,22-25; 2 Thessalonians 3:10; 1 Timothy 6:2; Titus 2:9,10; 1 Peter 2: 18-20
God’s Call For the Employer
God honors diligence and fairness. As an employer you are called to Diligence and to Fairness! These are the two characteristics we are to have in the workplace, and are especially essential for the manager. God hates the exploitation of people and will judge with severity those who do exploit others. So, why bother with the rotten characters of dishonesty and exploitation when we can have a much more efficient and happy workplace, where the workers are cared for and encouraged to produce instead of being forced and made to condescend.
Here are some more Scriptures about being an employer: Leviticus 19: 13; Deuteronomy 24:4,14; Proverbs 27: 18; Malachi 3:5; Luke 10:7; 1 Corinthians 9: 6-12; Ephesians 6:8; Colossians 3:17; 4:1; 1 Timothy 5:17,18
After reading the above selected Scriptures, ask yourself these questions:
Q: What attitudes, desires, and habits do you have that need to be changed?
Q: How can you be encouraged by God’s truths and encourage those who are in the workplace?
Q: What warning is God giving you?
Q: How can you lead a distinctive lifestyle in the workplace?
Q: Have you considered the eternal results of a healthy work attitude, even in the face of strife and chaos?
God’s Call For the Workplace
As a worker, or an employer, God has a lot to say to us regarding our virtue at work.
We are called to work with respect and honor to God and others: Genesis 2: 15; 3: 15; Proverbs 6:6-8; 10:4,5,26; 12:9; 13:4; 14:23; 18:9; 22:29; 31:11-31; Ecclesiastes 3:22; 5:12; Ephesians 4:28; 1 Timothy 5: 8!
We are called to work with integrity: Proverbs 10:2; 15:27; Jeremiah 22: 13; Ephesians 4:28!
We are warned about laziness: Exodus 20:9-11; 23:12; 34:21; Proverbs 16:27; 18:9; 19: 15; 22:13; 24:30-34; 1 Thessalonians 4: 11,12; 2 Thessalonians 3:7-15!
We are called to honor just remuneration: Proverbs 3:27,28; 27:18; Luke 10:7; 1 Timothy 5: 18; James 5:1-5!
Here are some thoughts for your consideration.
Remember what God calls us to do:
· Our work is not to define us! Even though this may be the first question we ask someone new to us, or is asked of us, our work is what we do, not who we are! Work is not our identity or our worth!
· Our worth as a Christian is who we are in Christ!
· Work, in society, is center stage for our social classification and the search for identity, and can even be an addiction to fulfill our deeper needs!
· Our worth as a Christian is who we are in Christ!
· Ecclesiastes 2:4; 4:7-8 asks, What benefit do we gain? This passage gives us the impression that our toil and work are merely temporary. We may find work necessary in order to live, but it is not permanent or eternal.
· It is not what we do that matters, but how we are!
· Colossians 3:22-25. Our work may not define us, but it will either mature or devalue us. How we respond and model character will be the eternal value—our true selves. Work can even be a means through which to worship our Lord!
· People will see Christ through us in the workplace--either as a God to come to, or, one from whom to be repelled. How do people at work see Christ through you?
The Dangers and Concerns In the Workplace.
How do you handle Anger? Anger is one of the biggest enemies for the employee as well as the employer! We are to be known by our love; yet, it is anger that most often communicates who we are. Thus, we must beware of its vicious and destructive ways!
· Our inner feelings of inadequacy can be the fuel to the negative reaction to anger from a boss or coworker. Thus, we have to see ourselves as God sees us, redeemed, and as His child. Then we can have a healthier self-image that gives us confidence but does not allow pride.
· Do not try to just ignore your anger. Walking away from, or stopping the anger, will not solve the problem, and often, even prolongs it. Put an end to the anger by seeking to solve the root of the conflict. Let the anger give you the fuel to react quickly and confidently, but do not let it control you!
· Gossiping, name-calling, and/or trying to get even will only escalate the problem and give others a very wrong impression of our Lord! Remember, our essential self worth is not our job; it is who we are in Him!
· Do not take anger personally! View your work as a service to Christ, not a personal, esteem-building venture!
· Do not be defensive. Rather, let integrity be your guide. Virtue will build actions, even if you are under attack by an angry employer or fellow-employee. Show Christ-like character, and, in the long run, you will win out. If not, shake the dust off your feet and move on, because in God's eyes, you are the winner!
· If the employer or fellow-employee is angry, do not let it influence you! Do not acknowledge the anger, and refuse to accept the tone, because that gives it more fuel and you will lose control.
· Separate the emotion of the anger from the words and content of what a person is saying. Do not respond to their anger with your own! Let them vent, then get to the root of the problem. Listen, and ask, How do you want me to resolve this? Find a solution, especially if it is your fault. And, if that be the case, take responsibility; do not blame others; deal and act!
· Restate the content of their complaint in your own words without the emotion. Use phrases such as, I didn't know you disagreed with that policy. Or, I'm glad to know how you feel. Let us find a solution about that.
· Let the person know you are glad they came to you (even if they acted inappropriately, because, we all do so at some point). When you are positive and looking to help them, you will be able to defuse the anger faster than anything else you could do. Also, be in prayer, asking God to give you the strength and the appropriate words. Remember, He is there too!
· Remember Christ-like attitude, and the “Fruits of the Spirit,” as well as sensibleness, self-control, and cooperation. (Romans 12:1-2; 2 Peter 1:4) Seek to emulate His character and you will excel.
Q: Do a word study on excellence by looking it up in a concordance, and see what you find. Notice how these principles affected not only the people in the Bible, but also how they could affect you. Then take those precepts and attitudes and ask yourself, How can I apply them in my workplace?
Keys To Building Better Relationships With Co-workers:
Colossians 3:23; Galatians 6:9; Proverbs 12:24; 13:4; 19:15; 24:30-32; Titus 2: 9-20; 1Timothy 6:1-2; James 1: 8.
· To be interesting and liked, you need to be interested in and like others!
· Be open to others around you who can teach you more about your job!
· Care about what you do, and show you care.
· Be a pleasing and warm person, not a gossiper or conniver and schemer!
· Find an expert from whom you could learn insights about your job, so you can seek how to be better in it. No matter how long you have been there, you can always learn more, and ultimately become the best you can be for our Lord!
· Avoid laziness and procrastination like the plague (Proverbs 10:4,5,2:11, 15:19; 18:9)!
· Remember, your work is an act of worship, since it is God you are serving!
· Reevaluate your attitude toward your employer and fellow employees as much as you can.
· Notice others in your workplace, how you can learn from them, and how you can come along side and help them!
· Focus on objectives, not obstacles, and make sure your objectives are clear!
· Be totally honest with your time, expenses, and relationships!
· Remember your workplace is also your most effective outreach. You may not be able to verbally share the gospel, nor should you on work time, but you can be a Christ-like example so others will seek you out and ask you what makes you different!
Fighting Depression In the Workplace
Make sure you have someone in your church you can talk to and vent to at times also, such as a small group or a trusted friend. Be growing in your faith and study of the Word. That will make you stronger, and will enable you to better weather the storms of life. Be aware that depression is usually a sign of a deeper problem. Thus, do not afraid to seek help. Even Moses, Elijah, and Jonah suffered from depression! The real problem is not so much on how you feel, but what are the root cause(s) of those feelings.
Here are three of the most common causes of depression--fatigue, fear, and frustration:
Fatigue! (Moses' problem) If you are a control freak, attempting to control everything and everyone around you, you will be riddled with anxiety. When you try to continue in a stressed out and hectic pace without delegating or having support, you will burn out. This will set you up for depression as well as many other problems! You cannot do it all! So, you need to be a team player, seeking out relationships and team building, not competition and antagonism. Moses' father-in-law had to teach him to delegate. (Numbers 11: 10-17).
Fear! (Elijah's problem) Whenever you try to manage all of your worries and fears, your body will break down. Instead of focusing on your depression, ask yourself, What is the worse case scenario? How can I get through it with help from God and others? Are my fears realistic? How can I let go of them? Elijah had to recognize that God was indeed in control and then learn too trust Him to handle the situations he was in (1 Kings 19: 1-18).
Frustration! (Jonah's problem) When you do not see a plan or purpose behind the trials and activities of your life, you will get confused, and even disillusioned! Eventually, hopelessness will come in and overpower you. We, as humans, need to feel significant and needed. Thus, when we feel our life has no meaning, we will become depressed. When we finally understand God's purpose for our life, or just trust Him for it, our depression will fade fast! Jonah had to also trust that God was in control and had a bigger plan that what he could envision (Jonah 1-4)!
Sometimes, life in the workplace can seem to be an endless rat race! Stop and rethink your actions, your attitudes, and your options. Search out these Scriptures on how you can improve your situation, understanding that the best way we can do that is improve ourselves! Ask God to open your eyes and help you see His purpose and plan for your life. If you still feel disoriented and confused, focus on the character of Christ and the fruits of the Spirit (Romans 12; Galatians 5:22-23; 1 Peter 1:3-4) that we are to emulate, as this is the primary Will of God and what we are to heed! Remember, God made you. He loves you, and has something to say to you, so focus on Him and not your situation!
How To Get Excited For Work (when we usually dread it!)
When we stay in a rut or a bad situation with continual weariness and fatigue, we will lose our primary focus, be ineffective, become a stumbling block to others, burn out, or go into a depression. We will miss out on other options and opportunities, start to disintegrate into a person with a bad attitude, and even become ill!
I am mainly speaking about physical and emotional fatigue, which can turn into spiritual fatigue. There is no normal order. Each one could be the one to start it off, and the other two will soon follow! Thus, frustration, stress, worry, anger, guilt, indecision, unrealistic expectations, resentment, and many other negative emotions will accumulate and then compile upon ourselves to bring us down in our personal relationships, family, and our relationship to God. We, therefore, will not be able to function as He called us, nor will we be able to worship, as is our primary reason for being and existing in life! Work, which is supposed to be a tool for living and an opportunity for outreach, becomes our focus and sole life, when it is not to be so.
You can visualize your personal and work life as a three legged stool. The first leg is a good diet of fresh vegetables, whole grains, lean meat, and lots of clean filtered water, with vitamin supplements and exercise along with a lot of regular rest to help out the physical fatigue. The second leg is a concentration on attitude and outlook, which will help you with the emotional fatigue. The third leg is a good church, Bible study, daily prayer, and devotions that will help your spiritual life. Each one leans against the other. If you let one leg go, you will not be able to stand, or work effectively!
Just a little more rest will be some help to you, but it will not keep the stool from falling from under you. Neither would even a weekend of rest and fun. You must develop a plan including all three legs, and be consistent! God desires you to take good care of His temple, your body (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16)!
More Ways To Balance Your Stool and Work
· Be a person who forgives, who lets things roll off his/her back. If you let resentment build, it will break your back. If you let it go, you will be stronger and more effective (1 John 1: 9)!
· Keep your focus on Christ. Look at your work as worship, and as serving Him, not just a labor or chore. Be open for opportunities, and take them as gaining insights and experience so as to be better for Him and others around you! If you get stuck, consider a new perspective. Try to look at your work from a different viewpoint. You cannot always control your situation, but you can control your attitude and respond as our Lord has called us to do!
· Anxiety and stress is often a matter of outlook (Col. 3:23).
· Get yourself involved in a good church (Isaiah 40:31).
· Surround yourself with people who will listen to you and give you godly advice (Heb. 10:25).
· See your work as a means to use the talents, creativity, and gifts that God has given you (Gen.1: 26-28).
· Let your work give you self-respect and self-confidence (Prov. 22:29).
· Allow your work to develop your aptitude and confidence, patience, forgiveness, values, loyalty, integrity, and be a place to build and develop character (Eccl. 10: 10; Luke 16:10-12).
· Set goals and keep focused (Phil.3: 13-16).
Allow your work to build you up, not tear you down. If it does, and you have tried all of these suggestions, take a career assessment test. Perhaps you are not in the career for which you were designed. Remember, we are not to be devoted to our work, but rather devoted to our Savior. At the same time, we are to be diligent and be the best we can be in our job. The Christian should be the finest person at their job by means of integrity, godly character, and modeling Christ, regardless of the situation!
What would we have to gain if we put all of our selves and our time in our career, giving up all the other aspects of life? Nothing! When I visit rest homes with youth groups, I ask the youth to get life stories and perspectives from the elderly residents to catch sight of what they have learned in life, and what youth can learn from them. These were very rewarding. With dozens upon dozens of visits over twenty years, we never had anyone say they regretted that they did not spend more time in their career. The regrets expressed, if any, were about losing time with family by being workaholics, forfeiting relationships, and such. All could have been avoided just by adhering to Jesus’ simple words in Mark 8:36. Look it up and see for yourself!
Our work ethic will be the measure of how people see our true character, as well as that of our Lord!
This is from a supporter of our ministry:
How do I pray for my coworkers or workplace?
Praying for unsaved and hurting coworkers:
B. Body - health, protection, strength
L. Labor - work, income, security
E. Emotional - joy, peace, hope
S. Social - getting along at home, at work, and in the neighborhood
S. Spiritual - salvation, faith, grace
Praying for others at work:
B. Board of Directors
L. Lordship of the business
S. Senior management, Supervision
Praying for my company:
B. Bottom line, profitability, paying expenses
L. Lawful, longevity, lasting
E. Excellence, equality
S. Synergy - good relationships between management and employees
S. Satisfied customer/clients and employees
Richard Joseph Krejcir is the Director of ‘Into Thy Word Ministries, ’a discipling ministry. He is the author of the book, Into Thy Word and is also a pastor, teacher, speaker and a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena California. He has amounted over 20 years of pastoral ministry experience, mostly in youth ministry, including serving as a church growth consultant. firstname.lastname@example.org