Growing up in a small midwestern town, I held the general belief that most people believed in God. In that time and place, to be a Christian was a very normal label to wear. While it was perhaps naïve to hold that belief as a young girl, it would be an even more naïve notion today. Pew Research tells us the number of Americans identifying themselves as Christians is shrinking. Meanwhile, those who consider themselves unaffiliated (atheists, agnostics, and a category described as “nothing in particular”) are growing in numbers.1
Before we go on, let’s take a deep breath and remind ourselves that the truth of the Gospel is absolute. The One we serve is and always will be on the throne. The Word of God does not fail, change, or expire. However, considering recent statistics, it’s likely that fewer of those you interact with at work will share your Christian faith. In recent years, there have been significant changes to how Christianity is seen – and those perceptions have permeated all areas of life, including our workplaces. While we should never be surprised at the dissonance between the ways of the world and the ways of our Holy God, it can be a tricky thing to navigate as a Christian professional.
I remember the feeling I had in the pit of my stomach as I read a workplace culture report that explicitly named “Christians” on a list of oppressive forces found in the workplace. “Is this really how our current culture views Christians?” I wondered. If it is, there is a perception issue or an alignment issue at play. Either Christians are being grossly misinterpreted by others, or we aren’t showing up as we should in the first place. I think we can find examples of both.
We are called to honor Christ and represent Him in the world. For some of your coworkers, you may be their only authentic exposure to the Christian faith. In earthly terms, we represent the “Christian brand” in the workplace . . . and we don’t always do the best job. We haven’t always represented Christ well. Sometimes we avoid the responsibility of representing him at all, especially in the workplace. We can’t let the world tell our coworkers what following Christ is about. And, if we do, we can’t be surprised when their perceptions of Christians don’t align with what we know to be true about Christ and what it means to follow Him.
It's time to stand up and play an active role in setting the record straight. We can’t expect those who don’t know Jesus, haven’t read God’s Word, and don’t understand the core truths of Christianity to know anything other than what we reveal to them through our actions and our responses. While others may put unfitting or unfair labels on us, we have a responsibility to correct their assumptions with our words and actions. We need to humbly allow God to work through us as we show others what it looks like to place our full trust and identity in Christ.
My mind goes to the fruit of the Spirit. When we are “in step with the Spirit,” things are seen in and through us that are not seen when we are giving in to our own human desires and impulses.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. " - Galatians 5:22-26
Imagine how Christianity might be viewed if the world looked at Christians and saw the fruit of the Spirit in abundance? What if our most intense interactions were saturated with love, patience, kindness, and self-control? What if people saw an enduring joy and a sense of peace within us? It would have a profound impact on our ability to represent Christ fully.
Here’s the thing about the fruit of the Spirit—they don’t come about by our own doing. They are evidence of God’s work in our lives and our obedience of His will for us. I would imagine that’s why they are called the “Fruit of the Spirit” instead of the “Fruit of Miranda” or the “Fruit of <insert your name here>.” Left to our own devices, we give in to pride, impatience, hatred, jealousy, and a whole host of unfruitful things.
Are you ready to set the record straight about what it really means to be in Christ? Here are a few practical steps to take:
Come out of hiding.
In what I can only imagine is a direct result of the changing culture, I hear of many Christians keeping quiet about their faith at work. It’s time to proudly claim Christ, my friend. It's time to be as unashamed of the gospel as Paul was. (Romans 1:16) When your co-worker asks about your weekend plans, don’t actively avoid mentioning church attendance. Don’t be afraid to mention your men’s group BBQ or your women’s service project. Wear the t-shirt that labels you as a believer. These very small and unintrusive actions simply identify you as a Christian (a person in Christ). Come out of hiding.
Represent Him well.
When others know you are in Christ – represent Him well. Prioritize the spiritual disciplines that will enable you to do so. Be in the Word daily so that you know what it looks like to live biblically. Seek Him and pray without ceasing so that your actions may be in step with the Spirit. Be fruitful in how you conduct business and love others well.
Give God all the glory.
Ultimately, you representing Christ well in the workplace is neither about you nor because of you. Jesus can meet people wherever they are and the Holy Spirit is alive and at work in hearts every day. Your humble role is to stop hiding and stop resisting those daily opportunities to represent Christ well and give Him the glory along the way.
1 Pew Research Center, Oct. 17, 2019, “In U.S., Decline of Christianity Continues at Rapid Pace”