Theology Thursday: Engaging My Missional Potential to Transform My Place of Work
Perception of Workplace
Many Christians perceive their workplace as separate from their faith or completely isolated from their identity at home or church. As Christians, it is important to begin seeing one’s life as an integrated, single identity that manifests in complementary roles that are valuable to each of the groups of people that intersect in the separate arenas.
In This Article:
- Perception of Workplace
- Gifting From God for Each Individual
- Counsel From Jesus for His Followers
- Preparing for Opportunities
- Looking for Opportunities to Exercise Missional Potential
- Finding Open Doors of Service, Love and Compassion
Gifting From God for Each Individual
God has created all people with gifts that are helpful to the communities where they live and work. Some gifts are more useful in certain settings, but many are needed in every setting. One person’s gift may be teaching. Another’s gift may be writing, while another might be great at budgeting. One might write important code, while another writes beautiful music. Some may paint while others might create culinary delights. In each one of these cases, the passion and gifting God supplied would be helpful, or even essential to the smooth running of the various organizations.
The gifts of the Spirit, which are in various lists in the Bible (see 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12), include valuable elements such as wisdom, knowledge, faith, discernment, teaching, evangelism, mercy, service, giving and encouragement. In the church, these gifts keep things running smoothly assuming all the people are doing their part to meet the needs of the group. But many of those gifts, which are a part of every Christian’s life, are applicable to the home and the secular workplace as well.
Christians looking for an opportunity to influence the workplace in a positive way could find countless opportunities to use their gifts. Living on mission with God in every setting is the privilege of every believer, so asking God for an awareness of the needs in the workplace would open doors of service and potential for daily transformation. If one has a passion for serving God, the workplace presents a great opportunity for enriching lives and being an agent for positive change.
Counsel From Jesus for His Followers
Jesus gave many instructions to his followers in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). In Matthew 5:13, Jesus told his disciples that they needed to be the salt of the earth. Salt has multiple purposes as a savory spice and as a preservative. Being “salt” on the job can transform our workplaces and our society. Jesus implied that if they were not salty, they could no longer fulfill their God-given purpose.
Immediately following those instructions, in Matthew 5: 14–16, Jesus told his followers that they were to be the light of the world, to shine brightly and to not minimize their influence on the world around them. He wanted them to shine their light to bring glory to God through the good work they were doing. Those instructions easily apply to the workplace where most people spend the majority of their waking hours.
If those are the directives to the crowds who were following Jesus in the first century, they are the directives for Christians today. Followers of Christ need to look for ways to be a force for good, a light, a helpful entity in the workplace as well as in their homes and churches.
Preparing for Opportunities
A Christian may not consider the workplace a place for being on mission with God, but with heart preparation, one could easily be ready to show kindness to coworkers with many needs. This workplace service may not necessarily be overtly spiritual service. Jesus says in Matthew 10:42 that something as small as giving a cup of cold water in his name is valuable service. He says that person will receive a reward for the simple act of kindness so it is clearly something his followers would want to do.
Similarly, in Matthew 25: 34-40, Jesus discusses other ways to care for people in need. He points out the hungry, thirsty, lonely, marginalized, poor, sick and in prison. The people in the workplace are not the homeless or those in prison that need care, but they may be lonely, marginalized and suffering in many other ways. Awareness of needs and willingness to show compassion are essential heart postures for being missional in the workplace.
Looking for Opportunities to Exercise Missional Potential
Having prepared one’s heart to be open to missional service in the workplace, the next step is to actively look for opportunities to be a person willing to step up in transformational ways. There are open doors all around but being aware of them is pivotal. Taking the time to notice needs and address them as Jesus would requires some intentionality. In the workplace, people often try to stay focused on tasks and in the process miss critical needs of the people on the hall, in the next cubicle, or in the case of work from home, possibly even in virtual meetings.
Meeting emotional and social needs in the name of Jesus is important. Spending a lunch break listening to someone who needs kindness may be the best investment of time for all involved. Some people may also need a sounding board for challenging spiritual questions and curiosity questions about Christ. A missional Christian might need to be willing to spend the time to develop a relationship with someone so an openness to those kinds of conversations can be created. Having fostered those friendships, one may find that a group of people would want to spend regular time together, praying for personal or other needs, listening to each other, studying the Bible, or doing other activities that build important relationships.
Finding Open Doors of Service, Love and Compassion
Living a life of eternal purpose in the workplace is a perfectly reasonable goal. In fact, it is what Jesus expected of his followers. Jesus wants his followers to be examples of kindness and compassion who are willing to invest in the lives of others. He wants his people to genuinely care about the people in the shared workspace and to find ways to meet their needs as Christ would have. Using personal passions, spiritual gifting and awareness of others, one will find many open doors of service, love and compassion. Being aware of and meeting simple needs will be the first step in finding one’s potential for missional transformation in the workplace.
Read more Theology Thursday and explore theology and ministry programs offered by GCU’s College of Theology today.
Approved by an associate professor for the College of Theology on Feb. 28, 2023.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.
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