Four Attributes of an Effective Workplace Witness
A few years ago the New York Times asked me a very interesting question: “What makes a Christian any different than a non-Christian in the way they do their work?”
Over the past several years I have observed four key qualities exhibited by workplace believers who are representing Christ in their workplace. I believe these attributes are God’s ideal for the Spirit-led, Christian worker today. Let’s take a look at them.
1. Excellence Makes a Difference
The work of Christians should be excellent in every way because they have the Spirit of God operating in them. Excellence is the currency and authority in the workplace. You must earn this before people will listen to you.
Daniel and his friends are a good example. "The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king's service. In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom” (Dan. 1:19-20). Later, the Scriptures make a point of the fact that Daniel was favored by his employer because of the exceptional job he did. "Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom" (Dan. 6:1-3). Daniel was the model civic worker. He did his job well and that is why he was respected by his boss.
One of the easiest ways to discredit Christ in the workplace is for Christians to do inferior work. In order to earn respect our work should stand apart because we do our work "unto the Lord" (Col. 3:17). Doing quality work will not be the primary means of winning others to Christ, but doing poor-quality work can disqualify us very quickly from ever having the opportunity to present Christ in a positive light. Do your work with excellence.
2. Ethics and Integrity—Foundational
David failed an integrity test when he stole another man’s wife, then committed adultery and murder. He wrote after his time of repentance Psalm 51. He said “God desires truth in the inward parts.” Integrity means whatever you are in public you are the same behind closed doors.
Lack of integrity is nothing new. The Bible is full of examples. One involves Gehazi, the assistant to the most famous prophet, Elisha. It’s hard to imagine that anyone working with such an anointed man who saw firsthand the power of God would fail the ethics test. But he did.
Elisha healed Naaman, a very powerful man in government, from leprosy. He didn't expect to be compensated and he didn't ask for money. However, his servant Gehazi thought he could profit from this wealthy general and tried to extort money from him for his healing. God judged him, and struck him with leprosy, and his life was never the same. He was removed from serving one of God’s most extraordinary prophets.
Psalm 15 is the “Ethics Psalm.” I particularly like the way The Message paraphrases it: "God, who gets invited to dinner at your place? How do we get on your guest list? 'Walk straight, act right, tell the truth. Don’t hurt your friend, don’t blame your neighbor; despise the despicable. Keep your word even when it costs you, make an honest living, never take a bribe. You’ll never get blacklisted if you live like this.'"
Each of us has the potential of being a Gehazi if we do not have a foundation built in our lives rooted in integrity.
3. Extravagant Love and Service—What Others Will Notice Most
Johnny was a 19-year old bag boy in a grocery store. His company conducted a customer service training program that taught him that great customer service must be memorable. It must stand out in the customer’s mind.
He told his mom he was just a bag boy. However, he loved to collect inspirational thoughts. He decided to share those thoughts with his customers after he bagged their groceries by placing a thought into each customer’s bag. He would say, “Thanks for shopping with us today. I have placed an inspirational thought in your bag today. I hope you enjoy it.”
Weeks passed and one day the manager came into the store and noticed that there were only people in one line among three that were supposed to be open. People were going to Johnny’s line to see what he would put into their bag. People who normally came in one time a week began coming in more often just to see Johnny. Johnny was transforming his workplace.
Someone once said, "People do not care what you know until they know that you care." When you genuinely take an interest in another person in the workplace, you will become a credible person in their eyes. You will stand out among the crowd.
4. Signs and Wonders—Catalyst for Influence
The fourth attribute of an effective workplace witness is signs and wonders. The early church made a huge impact on society not because of their excellence, ethics, or love and service alone, but through demonstrating the power of God. "The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people” (Acts 5:12). Notice it was not in the local church or synagogue where these miracles took place; it was in the marketplace.
Jesus equipped his disciples to perform miraculous signs. “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father" (John 14:12). God wants His representatives to pray for co-workers and their bosses, and pray for solutions to problems in their workplaces, just like Joseph did for his employer, Pharaoh. The result is influence. Joseph became God’s spiritual and physical provider for a nation and his own people.
God is raising up a new kind of workplace believer who is experiencing the power of God in daily work life. Excellence, ethics and integrity, extravagant love and service, and signs and wonders—these are the attributes of the worker that God is using in dramatic ways. May the Lord allow you to make these four qualities part of your own work life.
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