As cultural opposition toward Christianity grows, what is its effect on your evangelism at work? Are you more faithful or more fearful?
You could hardly be blamed for being more fearful. The rapid advance of social liberalism and human resources policies promoting workplace “tolerance” only exacerbate the two fears we commonly cite for not sharing the gospel with our co-workers: fear of social harm and fear of career repercussions, like job loss or career stalls.
Evangelism has always been hard. If there is anything new about our challenges today, it’s how emboldened the opposition seems to be. Non-Christians used to say “To each his own.” Now they are just as likely to accuse us of stupidity (“Seriously, you don’t believe in evolution?”) or hateful bigotry (“How dare you say homosexuality is a sin?”). Employers increasingly do rigorous social media background checks before making hiring and promotion decisions. How long before companies who are fearful of workplace harassment and discrimination pass over the more visible Christian for someone who makes fewer waves?
In spite of all this, I am so grateful for the brothers who feared God more than man and shared the gospel with me. My own faith is the fruit of workplace evangelism.
LOST, AND FOUND IN THE WORKPLACE
Twelve years ago, I was a researcher at a mid-sized consulting firm in Washington, DC. I was a self-confident, self-sufficient, professionally-prospering Hindu. You wouldn’t have assumed I was spiritually uncertain. Frankly, I didn’t know I was spiritually uncertain. What I was not was a guy who was actively seeking Christ.
Enter my Christian colleague Hunter. Well-known and well-liked around the office, Hunter was a high-performing sales guy with a range of interests. Someone told me, “He’s a Christian, ya’ know.” Neither one of us knew for sure what that meant, but both of us believed it was relevant enough to add a knowing, “Huh.”
I did know Hunter didn’t fit the mold of a Christian that I had mentally constructed. Christians were nice, old-fashioned, hypocritical, one-note tunes. Hunter wasn’t that. So I started watching him.
We became friends. We spent time together and talked about a range of topics—The Simpsons, Lord of the Rings, Christ, Krishna, coffee, work. While the Lord used Hunter to pursue me, I never felt like a project, just a friend. As only God can do, he providentially arranged for Hunter to be there at the same time that God orchestrated a spiritual crisis in my life. And he gave Hunter the wisdom and boldness to speak truth into my life when I needed it most.
BEHAVIORS OF A WORKPLACE EVANGELIST
While young in the faith himself at the time, there is much about Hunter’s example that any believer can apply in a workplace setting.
1. Put Christ on the Table
First, put Christ on the table. Because it can be rare to meet Christians in the workplace, it is essential that people in your office know that you are a follower of Christ. That way you can make yourself available to weaker believers and an example to non-believers. It was a non-Christian colleague who told me about Hunter’s faith. Obviously we should not do this obnoxiously or irresponsibly, but by recounting your weekend, describing a Bible study that you are in, or sharing how you pray for others, people will soon know.
2. Work with Excellence
Second, work with excellence. When you put Christ on the table, expect to be studied by your peers as I studied Hunter. Work in a way that reflects the creativity, purpose, and goodness of God. Demonstrate faithfulness and integrity. Work “without grumbling or complaining” (Phil. 2:14). Submit to those in authority, and serve humbly.
This in itself isn’t evangelism, but the content of our lives at work should reinforce, not undermine, the content of the gospel message we share.
3. Love your Peers
Third, love your peers. Invest in friendships with non-Christians in your workplace, not perfunctorily as “projects,” but lovingly as those made in God’s image. Don’t underestimate the importance of trust. Consider that it was a year and a half after Hunter and I met that we studied the Bible together and God gave me ears for the gospel.
Use your lunch break strategically. As you’re able, make generous use of hospitality, where you can share your life with a colleague away from the office and the usual chit-chat and office banter.
4. Prepare to Evangelize
Fourth, prepare to evangelize. As silly as this may sound, be sure you know how to easily explain the gospel. Practice if you need to.
When the Lord provides an opportunity, you don’t want your inner voice screaming at you for being unclear—you want your mind free to listen to your colleague and what they are struggling to understand. After all, it is the gospel that saves, not our quick wit and strong grasp of apologetics. I praise God for Hunter’s clarity, boldness, and trust in power of the gospel.
Fifth, pray. Pray for your colleagues regularly. Pray for good opportunities to share the gospel. Pray that you would grow in boldness. Pray that God would be big and man would be small—we’re all guilty of getting the two mixed up.
And invite brothers and sisters in your church to pray as well. Hunter later told me that his men’s Bible study group was praying for me from the moment I asked him about his Christian faith.
A CALL TO FAITHFULNESS
As workplaces grow more hostile to Christianity, these basic practices will be all the more essential. The Lord has been kind to answer my many prayers for good opportunities and the words to speak. Being known as a Christian, living out my faith professionally and interpersonally, and loving my colleagues more as God’s image-bearers has gained me opportunities to speak openly of my faith. And, in his amazing grace, God has chosen to use me to bring a colleague to faith.
We should expect the Lord to answer our prayers and grant us opportunities to speak of Christ, so pray for boldness. And be willing to spend your relational capital. God has put you where you are for a purpose.
Ashok Nachnani is an elder at First Baptist Church in Durham, NC, and a strategy executive at a multinational energy management company.