Something a lot of us grapple with is how to be a faithful witness in this world where so many people are turned off to religion. How can we share our faith in a way that is attractive and appealing to people, especially in cases where they intensely dislike religion, church, or Christians? How can we be good representatives of Jesus in a way that will get around their biases?
Let’s look at how our Great Example presented Himself. Isn’t it what Jesus did and the way He treated people that got their attention? Weren’t people attracted to Jesus because He lived what He taught? He didn’t just talk about helping the poor, the sinners, the lost and despised and downtrodden. He lived the love He taught.
He said that He had come to “preach the Gospel of good tidings to the meek, the poor, and afflicted,” Isaiah 61:1 and then He put those words into action by curing the sick, raising the dead, cleansing the lepers, and driving out demons. Even more important, He did spiritual miracles that went beyond physical healing. Many lives were transformed, like Zacchaeus, Mary Magdalene, and the woman who washed His feet with her tears. These changed lives were miracles that brought His words to life in the hearts of many. In addition to these transformations, He did a multitude of little deeds and actions of love and kindness and consideration that impacted not only the lives of the recipients but of all who saw and heard about them. Acts 10:38; John 21:25.
He was the living, walking example of God’s love to people, and He manifested that love by responding to their personal needs. If we will pattern our lives after His, we can be assured that His Spirit will guide us and we won’t have to worry about what to say and how to say it. If we’ll do our best to follow the example He left us by modeling His love, His giving and unselfishness to people, then when we tell them what our energy source is, it gives them a solid reason to have hope that Jesus could be the answer to whatever they need.
Take one example in recent times: Mother Teresa. She was received worldwide by people of many faiths because of her living example. Her actions preceded her. She was not glamorous in the ways of the world. She was not particularly articulate or dynamic in her speech. Her example of giving sacrificially and loving extravagantly is what drew people to her. Her actions went before her and her words backed up her actions. She used both. I think that was a key to her success. Her example, plus her words, won others, even those with widely differing beliefs from her own.
As Christians, we all want to be like Jesus, or even Mother Teresa, who was certainly a tremendous example of Him. There are countless other examples from the past and from the present, people whose actions have attracted many to the message. Like any religion over time, Christianity has been embraced by some people who profess to be Christians, yet their actions, attitudes, and example in general may be anything but an accurate representation of the example Jesus set and what He taught. As a result, many non-Christians lump everything related to Christianity together and form very negative opinions about it all.
As sincere followers of Jesus, our calling is to demonstrate the reality of what Jesus lived and taught through living those principles in our actions, our words, and our attitudes. While some people may have their life changed because of a sermon, in most cases it’s the living, breathing example they see, day in and day out, that they can’t deny.
We are facing quite a challenging task when we set out to “seek and to save that which is lost.” Luke 19:10. For one thing, the lost often don’t know that they’re lost, and they often don’t realize that it is Jesus who has come to rescue them. Often the only way you’re going to reach people is by your actions. You’re probably going to have to “walk the walk” before you can “talk the talk.” Anyone can easily dismiss what you say; however, they are sure to notice what you do and how you react to things.
If God has put you in a certain situation or position, you can be sure that He has placed you there as His ambassador, His representative. The place where He has put you, at least for now, is your mission field. It’s where He wants you to use all that He has given you to be a reflection of Him in what you do and say. He’s counting on you. Jesus has put you there for the sake of those around you. You have been given the responsibility, as well as a marvelous privilege, to share the love of the one who means everything to you with as many as you can.
I’d like to offer you a variety of suggestions for wise witnessing in the workplace. I’ll list these fairly briefly.
1) One of the things that will help you to be a faithful witness is to bathe each day in prayer. This should be given priority.
Pray proactively that the Holy Spirit will work in the hearts of each of those who you are in contact with. The Holy Spirit is the one that has to do the work. Your job is to be available and follow the leadings of the Spirit.
Pray that your actions and conversations will be a godly example, that the “ministry be not blamed,” that you will not be a stumbling block for anyone. 2 Corinthians 6:3.
Pray that you will be honest and ethical in all that you do.
Pray that the Lord will help you to do your work with excellence.
Pray that He will give you great love for even the people you find most annoying or difficult.
Pray that Jesus will provide “setups” for you to be an example of His love and care for those with whom you work.
Regularly pray for your co-workers’ salvation.
2) Whatever you do in word or in deed, do all to the glory of God. Colossians 3:17.
3) Don’t be ashamed of your faith. Many people have all kinds of very odd, wacky, and unusual beliefs, and they’re not embarrassed about them. So why should we be ashamed of the Gospel?
4) To your employer and co-workers your words will likely not mean as much as what you do. Your work performance, your honesty, your interactions with and treatment of others are what people will grade you on.
5) Be real. Don’t try to be perfect or act like you’re better than anyone else. Admit it when you make mistakes, and when you do, sincerely apologize. If you forget to do something, apologize. Of course you’re going to get annoyed or frustrated or under pressure sometimes. Apologize. That way people will see that you’re real and that you make mistakes too, but they’ll also see that you admit it and want to make up for those mistakes. You don’t want them to hurt others.
6) God offers love, forgiveness, and acceptance. As His disciples, we need to offer the same to others.
7) Employ all the gifts that God has given you as you minister to those around you. If you want to show the Lord’s unconditional love and how He fills each person’s need individually, pray for the right openings.
You can simply encourage them when they’re having a difficult day, or you can listen to them as they pour out their hearts about a challenge or problem they’re facing.
You may be able to pray for their healing or the healing of their loved ones, or other things that they need prayer for.
Gently offer to pray for your co-worker when appropriate; for example, if they are telling you about a very difficult personal situation.
Consider offering to help them with something they need.
An appropriate poem, or quotes, or verses, or articles, or a little gesture of kindness, such as bringing them a cup of their favorite coffee or loaning them a good book you’ve read, can be part of your actions of love that people can see and feel. These can help them to know that you’re going out of your way to care for them.
Your approach with each person will need to be led by the Spirit, as the Lord wants you to interact with people as individuals.
8) Don’t be afraid to talk about your faith at appropriate times and in appropriate situations. Just do it naturally and normally when you’re making small talk. When people ask you what you’re doing on the weekend, you can, for example, simply tell them that you’re going to have some friends over for a Bible study, or that you’re going to attend a little home fellowship or prayer group. Maybe you’re going to take your kids to the inner city to help the poor. That’s a great way to open the doors for more conversation. For example, you can talk about how you burned the cookies that you were making for your spiritual discussion group, or how the new dessert you tried to make for some teens who were coming over to practice for a performance in an old folks’ home was such a flop.
“Thinking that our work will glorify God when people do not even know that we are Christians, is like admiring an effective ad on TV that never mentions the product. People may be impressed, but won’t know what to buy.”—John Piper
9) Manifest integrity. When people look at you, let them see honesty, decency, fairness, sincerity, and truthfulness. I can’t emphasize this enough. This is critical to your testimony in your workplace, in matters such as the following:
Work diligently and thoroughly.
Be honest and truthful in your communications.
Avoid anything that could look questionable.
Be wise in the midst of office politics. Try not to take sides if there is conflict.
Keep your word if you say you’re going to do something or be somewhere.
Don’t get involved in negativity and gossip. If you’re approached by someone who is negative or gossiping and are drawn into a conversation, say something positive or change the subject or excuse yourself.
Try not to whine or fuss or complain. Ask the Lord to help you to have a praiseful and positive response to problems you or others face.
Keep confidential matters confidential. Remember that something said in confidence to one person quite possibly will be told to another. A good motto for the workplace: “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.”
Use wisdom in your interactions during work hours. Whatever the reason, talking when you should be working reflects negatively on your Christian example.
Avoid being late for work.
Do your best to meet the agreed-upon deadlines for your work.
“A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.”Matthew 5:14–15. Do all you can to keep that reflection of His Spirit clear, bright, and steady. God uses our willingness to be His ambassadors to touch lives in many ways. Witnessing to someone on a one-time basis takes effort, but it can be even more challenging when you see the same people day in and day out as they have the time and opportunity to size you up, to measure your talk against your walk, and to see if you really live up to your witness. As you build deeper friendships and relationships, people come to see that your faith is the “real deal” and that despite your human failings and lacks, your faith is constant, and your love and care for others is at the center of your life. It provides many opportunities to offer the support and example that can help others go further for Jesus.