When I was 15, I took my first family road trip to South Florida to visit family for Christmas. I had just gotten my driver’s permit and was excited to drive, but my family wouldn’t hear of it. During that time of year, they said, a lot of seniors from the North settled in Florida - and perhaps demonstrated certain "generational driving habits." In other words, some of these short-term Floridians would drive 70 miles-per-hour in the residential neighborhoods... but 30 on the highway.
I’m sure we’ve all hit the open road - only to be stymied by a slow driver in the fast lane. Unfortunately, in our Christian walk – and especially at work – that’s often how we "drive."
Sometimes, we are over the top with evangelism or too vocal about an ethical issue at work (which would be like going 70 in a 30). But more often than not, we are going 30 when we should be going 70. We are scared and shrink back from living out our faith the way God wants us to.
When it comes to living out your faith at work, are you the person going 30 in a 70 - hands situated at "10 and 2," scared to go any faster? If so, here are a few things you can do:
- Get on the road. Every day your job is to glorify God through the way that you work, because your work matters to God. You need to be thinking about what Ethics, Evangelism, and Excellence looks like in your job.
- Know the speed limit. Many of us don’t know what is appropriate or allowed at work when it comes to sharing our faith. The fear of the unknown makes us shrink back from religious rights that we are guaranteed. Consider this:
“Often company officials do not understand their employees' religious rights, and sometimes they wrongfully discipline them for activities that are entirely appropriate. Far too often, employers mistakenly treat religious speech like sexual harassment and create a "zero tolerance" policy for religion that is similar to policies for sexual harassment. Religious speech and sexual harassment are worlds apart, though. Religious speech enjoys both constitutional and statutory protections that have never been granted for sexual harassment.” - David C Gibbs Jr, President of The Christian Law Association, The Legal Implications of Witnessing at Work
- Don’t be afraid to hit the gas. Fifteen months into being on staff here at Watermark, I can’t think of a single conversation where someone has gotten in trouble at work for living out their faith. Of course there are stories like Kim Davis or the Christian bakers fined $135,000, but these stories are rare, which is why they make national news. Why not speed up a little bit and see what happens?
- If you get pulled over, don’t squirm. In the rare event that you get caught speeding (breaking the rules), own it. Don’t try to "get out of the ticket" by lying, and don’t get upset with the management team for "pulling you over." With a humble and sincere heart, apologize and do your best to understand their concerns. In fact, it may be an opportunity to share with them why your faith is so important to you. And if we get flooded with people who continue to face opposition at work for sharing their faith, there are faithful lawyers who have law practices dedicated to defending the right of the faithful who might be speeding in the workplace.
It’s not easy living out your faith at work, and you will undoubtedly experience some push-back sometimes. But this is our commission, our purpose, our privilege. If we do it with wisdom, gentleness, and respect, we bring honor and glory to the One we serve, and we can change someone’s life forever.