Faith and Career (Part 1) – Being a Light in the Workplace
Today’s society often leads us to believe that being a Christian in the workplace is not allowed unless you are working in ministry. However, what one believes and values determines their work ethic, decision making, conversations and relationships on a day-to-day basis. The Apostle Paul encourages us to never separate our work from our devotion to Christ: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24). Our work is part of our worship unto God.
Back in November 2021, RE:NEW hosted a Career Panel Discussion of Christian professionals from various industries. They shared their best tips for students and young adults today on how to break into successful careers and also how to trust God and be a light for Him in the workplace.
“Every one of you are a Christian first and employee second or third. Jesus said if you want to be first, you must be last,” said Ed Lu, who works for Taco Bell as an IT Manager. “When you walk out of the church, these walls, every Sunday…you are to maintain that Christian identity, to influence, inspire and to change lives. This is probably a cliché but before a non-Christian reads the Bible, they read Christians.”
Although most Christians today know well that they need to be a light for Christ, choosing to be so is not without difficulties. Many Christians struggle with fear of what others will think of them or even the possibility of being fired for being considered too religious. Of course persecution and mocking will happen at times when we stand up for Christ, but as we honor God in our lives we may also be surprised at how God uses our steps of faith and boldness to work in others.
Peter Poon, who works for LinkedIn as a Senior Engineer, shared that he used to feel like a “split person” at work because he was a Christian. He felt stressed out because most of the coworkers around him were non-Christians and sometimes had very liberal views, so he was timid to talk about his own views based on the Bible. He felt very alone.
So Peter prayed to God about his struggle and his need for more Christian support in the workplace. Miraculously, after praying for one week, God revealed to him that one of his coworkers was Christian. The second week, he met another Christian coworker. They introduced Peter to a few more colleagues who were Christian. Peter decided to meet up with these other Christians at LinkedIn for lunch on a regular basis and then later they decided to start a Christian group together called “InChrist.”
Peter also recalled a time when he didn’t have a good relationship with his boss. Instead of complaining about it, he decided to pray. “Everyday when I drive to work, I prayed for my boss. I prayed for my coworkers. I prayed out loud in the car…I just kept praising God for my boss,” said Peter.
He noticed changes within himself. He began developing a different attitude and became more accepting. From there, he could also see his boss slowly changing his attitude. Their relationship started getting better.
Around Thanksgiving time one year, he decided to invite a hundred of his coworkers to a Thanksgiving lunch where they could bring their lunch and everyone could share what they were grateful for that year. More than twenty of his coworkers and even his boss, the Vice President of Engineering, showed up to the lunch. Afterward, many of his coworkers and his boss sent him emails thanking him for organizing the lunch. Some even mentioned that it was the first time they ever shared what they were thankful for in front of their coworkers. From then on, his colleagues asked him to host the same event every year.
“If you are a Christ follower…don’t just treat yourself as a professional or worker,” said Peter. “You are an ambassador for Christ. You are bringing the Kingdom culture into the workplace.”
Wherever God has placed us vocationally is where we can serve and be a light for Him. As long as we continue to abide in Christ, we will bear fruit and do the good works He prepared ahead of time for us to do (John 14:4, Eph. 2:10). Just as we trust Him to help us be a light in our workplaces, in Part 2 of our Faith and Career series we will also talk about what it means to trust the Lord’s plans for our career instead of our own.
Written by: Elizabeth Hughes