Pastoral Perspectives

Men At Work

This is not about the popular band from “down under” Australia which was famous in the 80’s, but I thought it had a nice ring to what Christians are seen at their workplaces. This has to do more with our daily work and testimony where we are now. It has been said that there is no division in the work we do as Christians be it secular and sacred. I guess this comes from Catechism that man’s main purpose is to glorify God and mentioned also in 1 Corinthians 10:31 – So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. I hope we have this perspective that our work, any work we are engaged should bring glory to God.

So, where there are Christian men and women at work, would you agree that there are certain standards expected of us as God’s people and the expectations of colleagues when they know we believe in Christ? Do you feel the pressure that you must be at your best behaviour and not to bring shame to the Lord? It seems that a “halo” must follow you wherever you are in the office and you are forever a bundle of joy to self and your colleagues-no matter how hostile or difficult the environment can be at some point in time at the office. I wonder whether this is really happening at your workplace as we may be seen as “angels” without a dark-side in us.

I must confess I struggled with this image and it became a “chain and ball” to me at my work. At my workplace I had to deal with various kinds of people, for a lack of a better word, it was extremely challenging. There were the vulgarities and threats from customers, pressure from bosses, cover ups, massaging data, unethical practices; and all these for the sake of business and profit. For me in some of these circumstances it did undermined my confidence in self and Christ. These situations can affect a Christian’s integrity and faith to be at the edge of the cliff; or our Christian values are being tested and pushed to the limit. If you don’t do when asked, which seems to go against God’s words, there is every chance promotion and bonuses may not be given to you. I wonder if some of us have these same experiences and can resonate with me.

Our bosses and colleagues sometimes don’t understand our Christian values. So they say-what is so difficult about a small white lie, putting one or less decimal point in the data or accounts, give the customer what he wants irrespective of regulations being compromised, and close “one eye” to something unethical being done. The reason is that if the customer is happy, the company is also happy and since money can be made-everyone is happy (a win-win situation).  There could be other more serious consequences if you don’t do when told, since it is clearly against God’s Commandments; the worse scenario would be you have to leave the company on your own or will be asked to resign.

Perhaps for some of us leaving a company is not an option being a bread winner in the family, some of us may have other opportunities elsewhere no doubt, but for some, it is a dilemma as to what to do in this situation.

Let us search the Scriptures and see what answers or principles we can follow and apply in the various circumstances we faced at work. Albeit not all of us who are working encounter a similar experience and it is hoped that this does not happen in a Church office.

Firstly, let us look at why we have been called to do in this world. Scriptures revealed that we are to become salt and light to the world (Matt 5:13-14… so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven). Our workplace should be seen as our calling to serve God and bring in life giving values to our workplace. We don’t live in a perfect world and our place of work isn’t either. Where we are, is not to be looked at with disdain, hopelessness or nothing good can come out of it, but rather this is an opportunity for us to do the works of Christ for the lives of our colleagues and bosses. They deserve an opportunity to witness Christ in our walk with God where we are.

Secondly, let us look at some examples of God’s people who worked for kings or rulers who have not believed in Christ-Joseph, Moses and Daniel to name a few; and draw some principles for Christian witness. Daniel was a youth when he was captured and it was a requirement that he had to eat non-kosher food or food offered to idols at the palace.  He reasoned with the guards and said they would eat “veggies” and proved that they would be as healthy as the others who ate the palace food. So, in difficult situations we should seek to reason out the “why” we can’t do, seek for alternatives and explained a better way to do things that does not compromise our beliefs. This comes with prayer seasoned with the salt of wisdom from the Holy Spirit.

Thirdly our posture should always be that of humility in the situations mentioned. Psalm 25:9 says this “He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way”. I must confess again my attitude of arrogance towards the “flowery” languages of my friends was quite unreasonable. I demanded all vulgarities must end in my presence since I am a Christian. I placed myself above them since I am a “holy” person and these words defiled me (err…very young Christian mah). We should not imposed our values on others and be more understanding where they are coming from. In fact, we could be the ones offending them with our sense of “purity” and “holiness” because we are a little “atas” compared to them. We may harbour pride ourselves, unfortunately like Israel, because we are the “chosen” one of God. If we are seen to come across strongly with our religiosity, an equal response may be encountered. However if we come with no “airs” there is every likelihood animosity can be averted as we seek to reconcile and resolve a stalemate. God is the one who provides the wisdom for his ways through us.

I ‘survived’ and experienced God’s grace for 33 years at my workplace. I was promoted only once, never received the bonuses I should have been given, but it was still a joy to be his servant in this place. 2 families came to Christ, 2 individuals accepted Christ and opportunities to share the Gospel was abundant. Other Christians were encouraged and at one time we had Bible study at work. I was also able to serve in my previous Church and as well as in True Way. So, in my own perspective, at the end of this chapter of my life what more can I ask from God, because he was with me all the way.

We need to know that these things do happen and yet we can overcome them with God’s help that we may find favour with men. REMEBERING – Our Service as God’s Appointed, our Integrity as God’s Ambassador and our Nature as God’s Anointed.

Rev Eddie Chandra

June 14, 2015