In a polarized America, inflexible statements of dogma are becoming normalized and opinions have become rights.
This will not be such a post, but instead merely a reflection on the joy and value that can be when a woman or man chooses to live out their faith at work.
In my faith background (belief in God and his Son Jesus) we have a varied history of faith expression largely based on the “tribe” that you were groomed in.
For some it is a charismatic expression in the public view, for others, it is a somber expression in private.
Most religions have a sect of fundamental purists, those who feel it their duty to protect the “brand” at all costs. Many also have a sect of passive attenders, those who are content checking the box of “showing up” to the various disciplines, gatherings, and perceived duties of their religion.
Religion is by definition “the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.” Those holding to a “belief in and work of” also feel a sense of responsibility to both living out the teaching of their belief while also teaching others.
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Jesus himself said in one of his final statements, “Go and make apprentices of all nations…and teach them…”
How do we live out our faith in the workplace when any faith can so easily divide and drive a wedge between relationships?
How do we live out our faith in the workplace so that it facilitates human flourishing instead of human animosity?
Wouldn’t it be better if we were either agnostic or atheistic towards faith at work just so we could get the job done, and then as in the words of Fleetwood Mac, “you can go your own way?”
Part of the value of faith is the vision of peace, it is a primary goal within many faith traditions.
Talking with business owners throughout our tenure as a business, peace is of the most common desires among their angst minds. When asked, “what do you want?”, many business owners respond simply with a version of the work “peace”.
Three elements will help us live out our faith at work.
First, legislating faith into anything weakens the very faith you are trying to impose.
Prayer in schools is a most likely example for how legislating something while bringing the appearance of embrace, can actually do more to harm the thing than to bring the intended outcome.
I am happy to announce that in any country, under the rule of any government, and within any economy, that prayer in schools is alive and well.
While you may not want to fall on your knees and bring attention to your ritual, it is quite plausible that in the middle of class, walking down a corridor, or eating lunch in the lunch area, you can quietly and thoughtfully seek God in prayer.
You can do the same at work.
Some say, “I want to work for a Christian (or Buddhist, or Muslim, etc.) employer.” Maybe instead we should think to work towards a mission that you believe in and within a skillset that you have been gifted towards, and be a light based on the faith that you hold regardless of the faith your employer holds.
I’ve seen plenty of non-faith-driven leaders pushing towards a powerful mission, and plenty of faith-driven leaders that are a bear to work for.
Stop waiting for someone to give you legal permission to pray, to be kind, to be salt and light, to turn the other cheek, to go the extra mile, or to replace worry with faith and hope.
The second element is to know that the heart and principles of your faith should integrate with your day-to-day decision-making even if all of your rituals or formal disciplines cannot.
I’m an employer who employs a small team of like-minded people. Currently, all of our team members share a general faith conviction. And still, it would not be well received if one of our team members spent their entire workday in formal faith study and meditation in place of the work that must be done towards our mission to liberate business owners from chaos..
We have a work mission to push towards and we need our team members working specifically towards that mission. Of course, I strongly encourage studying and meditating within the personal disciplines of your personal and spiritual growth.
I also strongly encourage living out moment by moment, the truths that each person gathers as they forage through their personal time of study and meditation; hunger for right things, laugh and cry with your workmates, show mercy, make peace, keep your promises, show love to those who frustrate you and make you mad. There is no law or boundary for these helpful things.
Your business is not only a viable place to live out your faith, it is a perfect place to live out your faith.
Business is an area laced with pressure, timelines, and the squeeze of deadlines. Business is an area where expectations are set and often not realized which requires grace, truth, kindness, forgiveness, and second chances.
When many say “live out your faith at work” what they mean is “I must push, persuade and compel you to believe the same thing I do.”
When I meet someone who is genuinely kind, thoughtful, intentional, and looks out for my well-being and prosperity…they don’t need to push an agenda.
Thirdly, above all, love.
Having already quoted a hippy band from the 60’s I am at risk of sounding like a flower child in the parking lot of Woodstock sitting in a VW bus pondering the value of peace vs. war.
I assure you that my hippy status would be seriously revoked based on both my experience and my lack to understand the lifestyle of the ’60s.
A question that would be helpful to ask that I have heard from a variety of sources is simple, “What would love have me do in this situation?”
Even reading or listening to this post, how would love require you to respond?
Let’s assume that the early apostle Paul, a former terrorist to early Jesus apprentices and an early century religious expert, was correct in his definition of love, eventually writing that, “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
What if we lived that out at work?
Must we legislate love?
Must we demand that we have the right to wear a Christian lapel pin or pray in the lobby?
In our faith tradition, it is common to label certain nations as “open” or “closed” to teaching or training on the shocking news Jesus came announcing.
Presuming that the foundation of your faith is love, then it’s not true…all countries are declared “open” assuming you have a relationship in that culture. I’ve been to hostile areas globally where communism or capitalism have been subject to corruption. Not one has been opposed to kindness, diplomacy, or a conversation.
There is no boundary to your faith…not even work. What is required though? Relationship.
Scott Beebe is the founder of Business On Purpose, author of Let Your Business Burn: Stop Putting Out Fires, Discover Purpose, And Build A Business That Matters. Scott also hosts The Business On Purpose Podcast and can be found at mybusinessonpurpose.com.