Though most of us won't know the joy of leading hundreds to Christ in packed arenas, we do have the privilege of being a light in our places of employment. Whether we realize it, we're on a mission field. The Great Commission (Matt. 28:19) is a reminder that, as Christians, we're called to share the gospel with those who don't know the truth wherever they may be. According to William Carr Peel, author of "Going Public With Your Faith: Becoming a Spiritual Influence at Work," the workplace is an excellent field to share our faith because "the gospel can be seen before it's heard."
If you'd like to share your faith at work but aren't sure where to begin, these simple keys can help you know how to influence your co-workers for Christ.
Nurture a relationship
You can't expect to gain permission to talk about tougher topics in life unless you're first willing to develop friendships with those you want to influence for Christ. Lynette Troyer Lewis, senior marketing executive at the New York offices of Deloitte & Touche, has found this approach to be paramount when witnessing to her co-workers.
"It's not so much the goal to share my faith," she explains, "as it is the goal to deepen the relationship and be transparent about my own life." Lewis, also a motivational speaker and writer, remembers one staff member in particular who approached her when she first arrived in New York. The employee had endured multiple bosses and was apprehensive about working with a new one. Lewis took the woman to lunch to ease her concerns. "It was clear to me as we talked that she was searching for God." Over time, Lewis developed a friendship with her that ultimately led to the woman's decision to accept Christ.
"As the relationship began to deepen," Lewis explains, "she began to be more and more open [to hearing] personal stories of how God had led me." Lewis used her own spiritual journey as a way to show how God can impact a person's life.
"When you share your own personal life, it's not threatening," she says. "I've found that my transparency solicits their transparency and creates a safety factor, especially when I share about my weaknesses, struggles, and the fact that even though I'm a Christian, I don't have all the answers."
Strive for excellence
Colossians 3:23 says, "Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men." These are valuable words for the Christian worker, especially those of us who hope to impact our co-workers and bosses for Christ. Before we can influence our peers with the gospel, we must first earn their professional respect. "People won't want to pay attention to your faith if you do sloppy work," Peel acknowledges. Lewis agrees, "If you're not committed to excellence [in your job], then you should never talk about your faith."
Commit to personal integrity
As important as it is to strive for excellence at work, it's also important to keep a high level of personal integrity. While Peel encourages the pursuit of professional excellence, he also stresses the importance of honorable living. "It's not enough to be good at your work - your heart has to be good as well," he says. Galatians 5:22-23 provides a model for godliness with the fruit of the Spirit. When lived out in front of others, the characteristics of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control speak volumes about the transforming power of God's love. This transformation becomes evident in how we deal with successes, failures, disappointments, and other people.
"How you treat people says more about your character than probably anything else," Peel says. "We have an obligation to treat people with respect." These qualities will go a long way toward standing out from the crowd and piquing the interest of co-workers who don't know Christ.
Pray specifically and continually
First Thessalonians 5:17 simply says, "Pray constantly." It's an important step toward understanding how to reach non-Christians as well as gaining boldness and spiritual discernment. Lewis recommends that we make our prayers specific to the individual and the individual's situations. "Prayer gives us the heart of God for people," Lewis says. "By having God's heart for people, then you begin to sense what they need." She explains that the person may need encouragement, tough love, or simply a friend. Unless we're committed to praying for our unsaved co-workers, we may never discover how to best approach him or her. Lewis once used this prayerful approach to minister to a particularly difficult co-worker. "[Prayer] ultimately helped me begin to reach him because I wasn't seeing him through the lens of what he'd done to me but through his hurts and what he needed."
Seize the moments
Once a relationship has been established, we're able to seize opportunities to minister. These could include giving her an encouraging note or helpful book, meeting a specific need, or being present during a difficult time. It may even mean responding to her questions about God and asking how you can pray for her. The possibilities to minister effectively are endless.
Peel encourages us to be wise in choosing when to speak up, noting that non-Christians will let us know when they're open to a discussion on faith by asking questions. Lewis discovered that times of crisis are particularly effective in sharing our faith. When tragedy or difficulty comes, we're able to give encouragement and possibly start a discussion about faith.
It's a lifestyle
Sharing the gospel at work doesn't have to be overwhelming. It's simply living our lives with faith, excellence, and integrity, and investing in others. By doing so, opportunities for ministry will arise. As Christians, we need to be ready to share what God has done in our lives and point our colleagues to Christ. Then we'll be "salt and light" in our workplaces.