You’ve heard it said that faith without works is dead. How about faith in work—as in your job? How do you walk with Jesus and keep walking right into your job? I’m not completely sure. That’s a compelling reason to keep reading, huh? Five years ago, I was pretty sure I had it figured out. I’d sit down on an airplane and see how quickly I could work Jesus into the conversation. I’m doing things differently now. As my evangelism style has changed with the times, so has the role of my faith in my job. God has taught me a lot in the past six months, and I’ve recently seen cool stuff come out of my relationships with people at work.
I’ve worked in the same company for the past nine years, and in that time I’ve built a lot of great relationships. As a consultant, my job requires a lot of travel, and much of that time is spent in close quarters with the same people. If you work on a project for a year with someone, spending up to 18 hours a day together, it’s like squeezing a tube of toothpaste. What’s on the inside comes out. Good and bad. And both have an impact on the people around me.
Lately, I’ve been seeing some great things happen in people’s lives at work, and I’ve been spending some time trying to figure out why. Let me start by telling you that I think my faith is pretty integrated into who I am. Most of the people I work with are aware of it, and some the stuff I do on the side is because of it, like youth ministry and working as part of the teaching team at our church. That does a couple of things for me: it keeps me accountable when I’m traveling to walk my talk and it lets people know where I’m at for better or for worse. People ask me about what’s happening at church or in our youth group in the same way they ask another person who’s into motorcycles about his bike. It’s not the only thing I talk about, but it comes up. I also have people come to me with all sorts of questions because of my faith. I wish I could say I have all the answers, but I don’t, so I question why I am suddenly seeing changes in the people around me.
I can’t explain it, but maybe you can draw your own conclusions about why I’m suddenly seeing changes in some of the lives of my coworkers.
I work with a sales rep in Kansas City. We spend a lot of time together on sales calls, on the phone and entertaining customers. We’ve also started hanging out together when there’s no customer involved and developed a friendship. I’ve been very open with him about who I am—strengths and weaknesses—and why I do what I do in my life. We’ve talked about why I don’t go to strip clubs, why I try to extend grace to people and why I can be a horribly self-centered jerk at times. One day, my friend was in the car while I was having an interesting conversation with another coworker about our faith—discussing disciplines like fasting, tithing and prayer. I felt kind of awkward talking about this stuff in front of my friend. We talked afterward, and I asked him if hearing that had weirded him out. He responded that it hadn’t—it just helped him see how much he needed God in his life and asked if I could help him find Him. Interesting response.
I’d never explained to him before that he needed Jesus. I never drew the bridge diagram for him. He saw my life, good and bad, looked at his own and figured out that he needed a Savior. My friend asked me to start showing him how to read the Bible. I bought a Bible for him, and since then I’ve been emailing him a chapter to read each day. We talk regularly now about things like giving, serving, integrity and prayer in the context of our business and friendship. For me, this was a great example of the idea in 1 Peter 3:15 where Peter says to always be prepared when someone asks you about the faith you have. I share this to say that it’s assumed that others can actually see your faith, and when they do, it’s worth asking about. I was touched that in my honesty and flaws, my friend saw Jesus through me and thought it was worth asking about.
I meet every Tuesday in a coffee shop with another coworker to catch up. Our kids play together, and we’ve known each other for a while and become friends. I’ve been inviting him to church for the past five or six years. He’s been receptive, but never ready to give up a Sunday morning to check it out. We both work out of our houses, so our coffee time is great for connecting about work stuff. The first hour is typically work, the second hour goes into personal stuff. My friend had been listening to a book on Kabaladuring his workout and was sharing it with me. He believes that pretty much all religions are equally valid. Funny enough, I’d been listening to a series of messages that fit with a particular conversation I’d heard, and I started telling him about those as well. He has also listened to the tapes, and we have continued to meet each Tuesday to talk about them. We’ve had amazing discussions that were both passionate and heated. I don’t think he’s really changed his views, but he’s looking for the Truth, and I see his openness to check out church more and more. There was a time when I would have been all about the argument and taken it very personally. But in these conversations I listen more than I talk. We can agree to disagree. That’s a huge change for me. My friend has come to church a couple of times. Only when I’m teaching, but it’s progress. He’s been a part of our church dodgeball league and plays poker with the guys from church on a regular basis. It’s an awesome thing to walk together with this guy on a journey of faith.
I don’t share this with you to tell you that I’ve got it all figured out. In fact, I’m probably a bigger mess than the people that I’m walking alongside. However, my goal is to be transparent enough so that people can see Jesus through me. It doesn’t happen that often, and I’m sure there’s a crowd of people behind me that I’ve somehow turned off to Jesus inadvertently—but slowly, through these kind of experiences, I’m figuring out how to love people well, and I’m continuing to learn how to love God more in everything I do.