Before I was hired full-time at my church, I spent several years as a bivocational pastor, working a regular job with very little glitz or glamor. I wanted to approach my coworkers and customers with an honest, genuine attitude that would provide open doors for Gospel conversations without turning them into debates or cheesy clichés. I’ve shared these following convictions with several folks who struggle with how to engage in gospel conversations in the workplace, and they seem to be helpful.
1) Do your job with quality and work hard.
Your job serves several purposes in your life. You are likely making money to pay for things and help provide for your family. It is a means by which God has seen fit to give you resources that you should steward for his glory. It is also a place for you to demonstrate Christian values, wisdom, work ethic, and theology. As in all things, you labor for the glory of God, even if it seems menial. Consider the fact that God is shaping you and growing you as a person through your occupation; your job is not just something to occupy your time and put some money in your bank account. So you should work hard, be diligent, take ownership, and do your work with quality.
2) Show the character of Christ with your coworkers.
When trying to gain an audience with your coworkers, you should not only work hard and with quality, you should also humbly ask for advice and help when needed. Let others shape you and share their best practices with you, and humbly share your best practices with them. If you are a leader or supervisor, be gracious and fair with your coworkers. Take criticism with grace and humility, and give credit to others when you succeed. Don’t engage in gossip or slander. Be sure to celebrate truth, and be measured in how you engage in conflict. Be quick to extend forgiveness, be quick to ask for forgiveness, and be an agent of peace and stability for your coworkers.
Each of these practices will help gain an audience with them at some point. It may not be daily, it may not be overt questions about the Gospel, and it may not be quite the way you expect, but those conversations will happen. Make sure that you conduct yourself in such a way that when they do happen you have earned their trust and are able to offer sound advice from a position of humble love for them.
3) Wait for captive conversations and appropriate timing to share your faith.
Most jobs have some form of down time during the day – break time, slow seasons, etc. Take notice of what your coworkers do during that time and link up with them however you can. If you spend enough time around them at lunch and get to know them, odds are you will notice them having a bad day, or they will bring up something in their life that is a bridge to the Gospel. Don’t try to force those conversations, but do take advantage of them when they happen. Don’t try to engage your coworkers with the gospel when they’re busy, stressed, or preoccupied with something else – they will tend to be annoyed and it will be easy to tune you out. Wait for an opportune time to share your faith and engage them with the gospel.
4) Be ready to give a reason for your faith.
While you build relationships and trust with your coworkers, pray for opportunities to share your faith, and ask the Lord to give you prudence along with wisdom for those situations. Also, pray that God would begin working in your coworkers’ lives and that he would give you the joy of making disciples at your work. You can also ask your coworkers how you can pray for them, and follow up with them when appropriate. Many people – non-Christians included – are encouraged by someone praying for them.
While you wait for opportunities to share your faith make sure you are diligently studying Scripture, exploring solid resources, engaging in your local church, and growing in your faith. This will keep things fresh in your mind, and the Lord will bring that study to mind when ministering to your coworkers. Often these conversations are unexpected and can happen suddenly – be ready in season and out of season.
When you do get the chance to share your faith, be confident and clear in what you communicate. Avoid nebulous, spiritual sounding language that may mislead or confuse. Finally, be sure to be concise with your thoughts and relevant with your advice. Don’t try to be exhaustive in your explanations, and don’t offer your coworkers a fire hose when they need a refreshing drink. Avoid rabbit trails and addressing obscure doctrines by keeping the focus on Jesus and what Scripture says. Don’t be the one to bring up angels, exorcisms, and your perspective on the book of Revelation when helping them work through the pain of an impending divorce. If they bring up the finer details of theology, often the best response is to say that there are lots of different opinions and perspectives, but the overwhelming message of the Bible is the gospel – that is the foundation of our faith, not the secondary or tertiary issues.
I have made many mistakes in engaging coworkers, and I am far from perfect in that regard. But by God’s grace, I have also had the joy of answering a lot of questions – some random and some very deep. I was even asked to do a wedding for one coworker, and to preach a funeral for the family member of another. God has used my coworkers to shape my ministry, and I’ve had the joy of ministering to them in many ways. It is not always easy, but ministry and life rarely are.
I hope that this post has encouraged you and given you a few things to think about as you minister to your coworkers and share the gift of faith that God has given you.