How to become more effective in fulfilling the "Great Commission" in the important and strategic workplace environment
The office was just coming to life when Samantha clocked in.
The smell of fresh coffee floated above the cubicles as the copier clacked to life in the background. The usual suspects were already in place and firing on all cylinders. There was Bob in accounting, just like always, crunching the numbers, telling jokes. Jake, in sales, was already on the phone, laughing and throwing his tennis ball against the office wall. But someone was missing — Janet, the secretary.
Janet died two weeks ago in a car crash.
That got Samantha thinking, All of these people that I see at work every day are going to spend eternity somewhere. I wonder if they are ready to stand before God?
Good question, Samantha.
In fact, this isn't a just a good question for Samantha to ask, but one that all followers of Jesus should ask as well.
Like Samantha, most of us are likely familiar with Jesus' Great Commission He extended to His disciples just before returning to heaven.
And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28:18-29, ESV).
For centuries, these verses have served as the "marching orders" for countless missions organizations and faithful followers of Jesus concerned with taking the fame of Jesus to the ends of the earth. While these certainly are "tall orders" calling us to a daunting task, it is important to remember that these commands are not intended to be followed only by a select group of "Special Forces," Super Christians but, rather, all Christians, everywhere, at all times — even normal Christians like you, me and Samantha. It is also important to remember that many of the people to whom we are to "go" live, play and work around us in our own homes, neighborhoods, gyms, coffee shops and our workplaces.
I offer the following seven tips to help us take a step forward in becoming more effective in fulfilling the "Great Commission" in the important and strategic workplace environment.
1. Believe that God wants to save your co-workers.
While I would expect nearly everyone would agree with this statement, it is important to take it beyond mere principle and put it into practice in the office. While the Scriptures are filled with verses underscoring this truth, consider two:
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10).
This theme is crystal clear in the Scriptures. Today, Jesus reveals His heart for reaching the lost through us, His church, in all of our spheres of life and ministry — including the workplace. May we be found faithful to be His hands, feet and mouthpiece to those He wants to save.
2. Be a good employee.
This is an often overlooked, but very important part of the process. Like it or not, the way we do our jobs either underscores (or destroys) our credibility as a messenger on Jesus' behalf.
Think of it like this: Nearly everyone has had the dubious opportunity to work alongside a co-worker that showed up late, knocked off early and/or goofed around during the day, forcing everyone else to pull his weight. What kind of reputation did these behaviors produce among his fellow co-workers? It placed that guy alongside the used car salesman in the trustworthiness category.
The same can be said for us in our jobs. If we don't seek to do our best for our employer, how can we speak on behalf of Jesus with any sense of legitimacy and authenticity? We can't. For our sake, and the sake of the Gospel, we need to work "as unto the Lord and not unto men" (Colossians 3:23).
3. Think like a missionary.
Everywhere the Apostle Paul went, even on vacation, he found a way to share Jesus. Once, while vacationing in Athens, as recorded in Acts 17, Paul got into a dicey conversation with some of the greatest thinkers of his day and made a profound assertion about the character and work of God.
And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us (Acts 17:26-27, ESV).
In other words, God has placed us where we are for a reason. Since this includes all of our lives, naturally, this extends to the workplace as well. Here's a good question to ask yourself in this regard: Do I go to work each day knowing that part of the reason I'm there is to look for opportunities to be a witness for and share the Good News of Jesus with others?
If not, I hope this question will stir you in that direction.
4. Fill in the gaps.
One of the best ways to "put feet on" the previous suggestion is to begin to seek to redeem some of the "down time" at work. No matter how busy we become, everyone has to take a break for coffee or for lunch at some point. These "breaks in the action" are wonderful opportunities to begin to build relationships and eventually engage in conversations that point people toward Christ. And they are already built into the natural workday!
Two things can help here. First, pay attention to who goes where and at what times. Not in a creepy way, of course, but in a "part of the reason I'm here is to be a missionary" way. Second, pray that God would give you opportunities, boldness and favor to share with these co-workers he has placed in your path.
You may be pleasantly surprised by what happens.
5. Put the Gospel to work for you.
In my experience, one of the most common reasons we fail to share the Gospel with others is that we fail to believe it ourselves. Not in an, "Is it true?" sense, but, in a "Do I feel the effects of its truthfulness in this moment, personally?"
For example, we are often far more concerned about what other people think about us in the moment of sharing than what God thinks about us. This should not be! God has already confirmed His love for us at the cross; our identity and eternity are secure in Him, and we need to bring these Gospel truths to bear in the moments we need them most.
Ask yourself, "Why is it that I don't share the Gospel more than I do?" To some degree, I bet you will find the answer lies within this realm.
6. Don't forget to actually share the Gospel.
As someone who has been around the church for a while, I have often heard the saying "Preach the Gospel at all times, use words when necessary." Perhaps you have as well. While, on the one hand, I appreciate the emphasis on the need for consistency in one's faith, I am equally horrified by how it doesn't square with the truths from Romans 10.
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?" So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ (Romans 10:14-17, ESV).
As you can tell from the previous principles, a consistent witness for Jesus in the workplace is of paramount importance. However, we can never assume that our witness is enough to save our lost co-workers. Only the Holy Spirit working through the preaching of the Gospel can do this. We must be faithful in actually sharing the Good News if we want to see others embrace it.
7. Trust God with the results.
As I expect that you can tell from this article, I am passionate about seeing God's people share His Good News with others. This will not change. At the same time, I am also concerned that we understand that though it is our job to share with others, it is not our job to save anyone. That's God's job. This is an important distinction that should free us up to play our part instead of constantly feeling the need to play His as well. This should not make us lazy in our sharing. In fact, it should fuel it.
It should encourage us to know that someone's eternity does not ultimately depend upon us. We can go to work knowing that God has chosen to save people through the preaching of the Gospel, and as we seek to be faithful to do so over coffee, in the break room or at lunch, His Word will not return void. Not all of our co-workers will turn from their sins and trust in Christ, but some of them just might. And we have the privilege to play a part in the process.
So, get there early, Samantha.
Bring the coffee, make some friends and take a break for Jesus. Preach the Gospel. Use words. Watch what God does in response.
What will you see God do at your workplace?
Copyright 2013 Dustin Neeley. All rights reserved.