Jenna and Andrew share their thoughts on being a Christian in the workplace. Neil introduces the morning by suggesting separating work and worship is a mistake, in fact both share the same Hebrew word: ‘avoda’
Who am I?
I’m Andrew and I’ve been part of the GCC family along with my wife Lila and our kids Tamar, Carmel and Peter for a few years now.
But who am I? Well that’s a difficult question. If you ask my family you get an answers like Daddy, Husband, Friend. But in the workplace, like many of you, I’m someone else and as careers progress or we change jobs our identity changes with it. So to explain who I am, I need to first explain what I do.
The Chandler in every group
And that’s not easy. For sometime now I’ve realised that I’m the Chandler in every social group.
Quick aside — Does anyone know what Chandler’s job was?
Statistical Analysis and Data Reconfiguration
You see my point.
At the last company I worked, over 7 years I was a “Lead Engineer”, a “Technical Product Owner” and finally a “Technical Analyst”. Today I work for a Usability Consultancy in Edinburgh and my title is “Principal Accessibility Analyst”
Does that help? Probably not.
Like Marie Kondo but for the Internet
For a long time my job has been to make the internet better for people through good practices and standards. I’m like the Marie Kondo of the internet. Of late my focus has been in the area of Accessibility — helping companies make the internet usable by people with disabilities
Access not Ability
Often pronounced Access Ability, I think it’s important to know that the focus in Accessibility is about Disability, it’s about Access. Which is interesting to me because looking back at the past 20 years of my career, “access” particularly “equal access” to information, websites, books, has been at the heart of everything I’ve done and I’m really thankful that God’s hand has been in that because that was not a smooth journey. And that’s really where I want to go today, not into my journey but the things that I’ve learnt along the way about myself and about the place of God in the workplace.
When I talk about what I do, it sometimes sounds very heroic and noble; helping those in need, swooping in to right wrongs and out thinking problems. I’m basically Batman and who doesn’t want to be Batman?
In fact in the business world having an attitude like that is encourage, confidence, conviction, the power of positive thought will help you get ahead. I came across this article on Forbes and I want to share it with you now.
5 Behaviors That Can Make You More Successful At Work
David Sturt and Todd Nordstrom — Forbes
You don’t settle for average.
You’re the type that is consistently hunting for new ways to solve a problem or self-improve. You don’t sit still. You’re passionately adding or subtracting something from products, processes, or procedure to make them better. You tweak. You tinker. And, you’re completely adamant that you can improve something.
You ask game-changing questions.
If you’re the curious type who’s always challenging the status-quo by asking questions like, “Why don’t we…? What if we looked at this differently? What if…?” then you’re probably destined for greatness. It’s no coincidence that challenging, questions are the building blocks of great work.
You’re willing to see it through until the end.
Call it gumption or stubbornness or grit. People destined for greatness know exactly when to quit — only when they’ve found success. You have the patience to see something through to the end. You remain focused and dedicated to achieve a result.
You must see your work being received.
Forget humility or hiding in the background. People bound for greatness want to see how the recipients of their work respond to it — whether it be a boss, a coworker, or a customer.
You ask for help and input…from obscure sources.
It may sound odd, seek input, ideas, and help from people who have no connection to your work.
Do any of the above feel familiar? If so, you’re on the right path and destined for greatness at work even though you didn’t realize it.
Seeking the Servant heart of God
Be not conformed
I said earlier that my identity in work is different than it is at home but that’s probably true about Church as well. Many sermons have been preached over the years about being different people at home or school than at church, but the workplace can be a very difficult place to be a Christian, to have a witness. In some place it can be strictly forbidden to talk about your faith, so does that make it ok? I don’t think so.
In His Name
So what do we do, ignore the rules? Fight the system? Should we be angry at an employer for telling us we can’t say that Jesus Christ is God, that we’re all sinners and that the only way to Heaven is through casting off our old life and beliefs and trusting fully on Him? How dare they!
So what can we do, life a double? That’s probably not a good idea. What about getting angry? We could turn our righteous indignation on the principalities and powers of this world? Maybe we even Tweet about it!
a time for war, and a time for peace.
— Ecclesiastes 3:8
As I stand here on Remembrance Sunday I can’t help but think of all those who laid down their life for something they believed in. They fought in a war to give us peace.
a time to love, and a time to hate
— Ecclesiastes 3:8
How quick we are to hate. I think the the first part of that verse is often overlooked. Yes there is a time for war, there is a time for anger but there is not a time to be passive.
We can’t turn our workplace into a battleground, but that doesn’t mean we give up and surrender. So what do we do?
Well, what would Jesus Do?
The Jews thought the Messiah was going to come like an avenging angel and free them from oppressive, Roman rule, but Jesus didn’t come with an army. Like the shepherd boy David when facing Goliath, Jesus wasn’t armed with a sword or armoured in gold. He was born to a poor family and lived a simple life until his ministry started and within 3 years he shook organised religion to it’s core and turned the world upside down.
…the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.
— 1 Kings 19:12 (ESV)
Jesus was there at the creation of the universe but when he walked on the earth he did so with the heart of a servant.
The servant heart
In Romans Paul says”
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
— Romans 12:2 (ESV)
How can we make in impact in the workplace, by striving to be like Jesus. By being transformed. And I want to stop here and draw attention to this verse, but the whole of Romans 12 is incredible, it’s like the instruction manual from Ikea that everyone ignore because they think they can build the bookcase on their own. Transformed…by the renewing of your mind. Not your clothes, not your hairstyle, your mind. Why? That by testing, by trial and error, by thinking about it, we might know the will of God. And what is the will of God? That what is good and acceptable and perfect.
With that as our best practice, and the servant heart of Jesus, that’s how we witness in the workplace. If we let God renew our minds, our every approach, our every interaction with colleagues and the decisions we make will be shaped in a way that leaves no doubt that there is something different about us.
I must decrease
And that’s something that I’ve found very challenging. I can only speak for myself, but in a job where you help people and when your colleagues who aren’t Christian also help people every day, it can be difficult to “think different”. And when it’s a job that you’re good, just like in life when everything is going well, it’s really easy to forget about God, to think that we’ve got this on our own.
I’m so thankful now when work is challenging and tiring, because that’s when I know that I couldn’t do it on my own. But when things go well, that’s when my superhero complex starts to creep back in.
John the Baptist knew where he stood:
He must increase, but I must decrease.”
— John 3:30 (ESV)
How at odds is that verse to “5 Behaviors That Can Make You More Successful At Work”. In the workplace, like in life we sometimes see ourselves as the hero of our story. This is why superhero movies are so popular; we feel like we are the heroes on screen, fighting the fight saving the day.
In reality we already have a Saviour. Jesus showed us how to walk on earth but when he died and rose again he won the ultimate battle and now sits in Heaven victorious.
We think we’re the hero, but at very best we’re the sidekick and I’m ok with that.
What I’m saying is that the world tells us to be Batman, but I’m happy to be Robin.