Theology Thursday: Witness in the Workplace: Offensive or Attractive?

Woman witnesses to a coworker at work

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” — Matthew 5:14-16

A Light Shining in the Darkness

Sarah, a twenty-nine-year-old young woman, was staring at the ceiling in her hospital room and contemplating a host of desperate questions about her bleak future. Due to a freak accident, she had broken vertebrae in her neck and was diagnosed with incomplete paraplegia. According to the doctors, she would likely never walk again, nor recover fine motor skills with her fingers. Additionally, she would lose control of basic bodily functions and would live the rest of her life in a care home and a wheelchair.

This dark night, her thoughts swirled. What kind of life could she have now? Would she be able to work, finish school, have relationships, or make anything of her future? And where was God? Was He done with her, angry at the 10 years of running from her faith? Was this her punishment?

Enter a light. A nurse, who was one of the many anonymous people attending to her every day, paused long enough to see a struggling young woman and then chose to live out the words of her savior with action. She came by after her shift to chat and then even prayed for Sarah, demonstrating God’s love and compassion. Sarah was deeply touched by her love.

Then, in another care facility, yet another nurse who followed Jesus, would come by after her shift to talk and read Scripture and pray with Sarah, filling her heart with words of God’s love, grace and truth. Before long it was clear to Sarah that God was there with her in the midst of her tragedy, as one healthcare worker after another shined the light of their faith in kind words of encouragement, prayer, friendship and support. She was convinced that God wasn’t done with her.

This simple workplace witness changed Sarah’s life. I know, because she is my daughter, and she will talk often of the kind faith-filled actions of Christian healthcare workers who provided a lifeline when she was sinking into despair.

Kind Works of Regular Believers That Point to Jesus

I marvel at the power of simple acts of intentional kindness at how like Jesus these nurses were.

Jesus stopped for people who were sick, desperately lost, and often at the end of their rope. Jesus showed genuine love and compassion and kindness to the forgotten, rejected, and marginalized. Jesus treated people with dignity and value regardless of their class, race, physical or spiritual status.

My Sarah met Jesus again through the lives of regular disciples who chose to live out their witness in a positive way in their workplace.

In Matthew 5, Jesus makes it clear that our “good works” are meant to be unavoidably visible. He explains that no one would light a lamp and the put a blackout cover on it (vs. 15). You put it on a stand for all to see. And a city that is on a hill, well, you can’t miss it (vs. 14). It dominates the foreground as you approach it. These unavoidably visible good works bring glory to God. They mirror his love, compassion, goodness and kindness. They draw people’s eyes to Him, just like Sarah.

Lighting Up the Dark World

To embrace the importance of a positive workplace witness, we need to remind ourselves that in this broken world there are many people who are still sick, lonely, desperately lost, feeling rejected, forgotten, marginalized, and facing circumstances that are crushing all hope in their lives. Just watch the news, read statistics or have an honest conversation with a neighbor. There is a lot of hurt in every workplace — everywhere. Look closely and you will see this is not an exaggeration.

Enter a light. Imagine…

  • A real estate agent who prays with clients during one of the biggest times of stress and change in their lives.
  • A teacher who prays for each child before leaving home for school and will insightfully connect families to resources they need, including food, clothing, school supplies and counseling.
  • A police officer who stops to play basketball with kids on the street, checks in on older shut-ins, and prays diligently for the neighborhood that he patrols.
  • An office worker who brings donuts once a month, invites others for game nights or starts an office bowling team to promote community and friendship.

Regardless of whether you are an engineer, carpenter, banker, landscaper, plumber, teacher, healthcare worker, lawyer or office worker, we’ve been called to light up our surroundings with God’s love in actions.

Avoid the Basket That Covers the Light

There are two ways to miss Christ’s teaching. One is to hide the light: To mind your own business, career, life and secret faith. Jesus makes it clear that doesn’t make sense. A light is meant to provide light “to all in the house.” In this case, the workplace. The second way is to shine the light so brightly in the eyes of your co-workers that they begin to avoid you. This is usually done when a Christian doesn’t lead with love, and loving actions in particular. When a workplace knows that you can be trusted to be present, kind, thoughtful, generous, unselfish and helpful, they are much more open to hearing what you want to say about God.

While it is important from time to time to take a stand for God with truthful words or biblical opinions, they carry much more weight when the hearers know they come from someone who has treated them with respect, value and love. This is best demonstrated with consistent loving actions.

Jesus asserts, “You ARE the light of the world.” His light already shines in you. Don’t hide it. Every single day in every single workplace a follower of Jesus has multiple opportunities to multiply kind actions and to touch lives with God’s love.

I thank God for the nurse who had the commitment to let her light shine. It saved my daughter’s life. Be the light today and every day everywhere you go!

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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.