Christians today have to do a bit of reputation management. There are no shortages of examples on social media of supposed Christian leaders acting like complete fools. However, this isn’t new, people have been weaponizing Christianity from the beginning. With all this going on how will people know you are a Christian at work? We discussed this a bit earlier with What does it mean to be a Christian. However, that post approaches it from an inward facing way, dealing with a little theology. It also deals with you and your relationship with Christ. In other words, it answers the question, “how do I know I’m saved.” Today we want to look at how other know you’re a Christian, and specifically in the marketplace.
Your Marketplace Is Your Mission Field
Jesus compares us to a light, illuminating the darkness and salt bringing out the true eternal flavor of life. Additionally, Paul says we (Christians), are like a sweet aroma (2 Cor 2:15). We spend almost a third of our adult life working, but many of us (myself included) leave Jesus at home. However, there is no better opportunity to shine light into a dark world than in the marketplace for most of us. This isn’t a new concept. Pastors, often with very little marketplace experience, promote this to their congregation. Just because something is cliché doesn’t make it less true. The big question then is how do you reflect Jesus at work? There’s only one thing that cause others to see a difference in you. Your actions.
I don’t mean your “blessed” vocabulary or whether or not you curse. Those things are good and can cause people to notice. However, people will see Jesus the most by how you treat them and others.
How we interact at work can make a big impact on others, period. That’s with or without Jesus. Whether you’re interacting in leadership or working for others there are some scenarios where Christians should be on their guard.
Interacting In Leadership
Let’s put away the org chart for a second. The fact is that whether you’re at the bottom of that chart or at the top you are interacting with leadership. John Maxwell’s famous definition of leadership is that leadership is influence. If that’s true, even at the bottom you are influencing those that are there to hold you accountable as well as potential customers, clients and vendors (depending on your line of work). Yes, department heads may have more of a role in traditional leadership, but everyone in an organization has some influence. It’s this influence that I’m suggesting you wield intentionally for the kingdom. The first step is to see yourself as the servant leader that Jesus was. With that mindset, let’s look at some scenarios where I think as Christians, we need to be on high alert and do better.
Let’s tackle the elephant in the room. If you’re reading this in 2022 chances are someone you know might have been laid off. As someone who has witnessed it at both a church setting, a family setting and finally being laid off myself I can tell you no matter how it was handled, it doesn’t feel great. Terminations often can be tied to performance but a lay off is a company cutting expenses and treating an employee like a number. Have some empathy for those going through that transition. If you’re in the unenviable position of having to layoff people, remember first that they are people. As Christians, we should be able to do better than a group layoff zoom meeting with an HR person that no one has met. The point is, if you’re letting people go, consider the golden rule here more than any other. Sometimes, there’s self preservation and other circumstances that might cause the situation to be less than ideal. One place that this is completely unaccepted is the church
Contemporary churches change leadership and personnel all the time. A common theme in church world is that everyone is overworked and underpaid. To make matters worse, many in leadership feel a bit too almighty about their position and forget that they are leading their teams more so then they’ll ever lead a congregation. This is unacceptable. This is the one institution where the entire culture can be free to follow Jesus’ examples and in every instance I’ve personally seen this institution fails on almost every level. The curse of the shoemaker strikes again (the classic story of the shoemaker and his shoeless children).
As Christians, especially in a church environment, these tough conversations around transitions of people into and out of the organization, should be handled with care for the person’s well being even at the expense of efficiency. Not all conversations are as tough as the one regarding exits. This is another area that Christians in the marketplace can do better (myself included).
It’s easy, particularly in a corporate setting with political consequence, to want to fight for what you think is the right answer to a problem. It’s easy to try and show that you have the expertise to be promoted from your position in that setting. However, what does humility look like in a situation where, humility is often seen as a weakness. Nevermind the fact that study after study, including the famous one from Kouzes and Posner in the Leadership Challenge, suggest that humility is actually a highly sought after leadership trait.
When you find yourself in conflict, it’s your opportunity to help people see that humility and acting like Jesus are synonymous. It’s an opportunity to educate your co-workers that humility isn’t weakness. It’s actually power under control. Instead of, seeking to be right, seek to understand. Instead of being clever with your replies, be thoughtful in your interactions. If Jesus can resist calling all of heaven’s angels down to Earth to fix His problems, we can resist the urge to be arrogant in our interactions. I’m speaking directly to myself and Christians, choose the inefficient path to care for other humans that were made in God’s image.
Word About Quiet Quitting
When quiet quitting began being reported it was easy to sit back and assume people were lazy. However, after being laid off and attempting to look for a job, it’s pretty easy to see why someone might choose to quiet quit. If a company can treat a human like a number, then a employee can treat a role at a company as if it doesn’t matter. Corporate culture is increasingly toxic and trying to increase productivity by deconstructing projects (via agile) actually takes away some of the sense of accomplishment. Treating people like cogs and business expenses started us down the slippery slope.
God’s called us to be excellent wherever we are and to work unto Him. Companies don’t value people the way that God does. It’s HIS value that maters.. You can be free to work unto Him without worrying about being taken advantage of. In fact, if you’re in the marketplace and consider yourself a kingdom driven leader, then it should be your mission to connect with those up and down the organization to create a culture that truly values people. If you’re the CEO it’s not enough to hire a certified B corps or some 3rd party to handle culture and charity. All of this comes down to being intentional around your actions and how you treat others, inside or outside of the marketplace.