When your work is more than a job

By Carolyn Oravitz

Writers often look at life’s experiences differently from most people because they always have an eye out for a story idea. As a writer, when I was sitting in an airport due to a delay, I was not looking at it just as an annoyance or a frustration. In my mind, I was thinking about how I could work an airport delay into my writing. I observed people passing by as characters in a story. I thought about how to describe the sights, sounds and feelings at this airport.

As Christians, we also look at life’s experiences differently. We might view a delay in an airport as an opportunity to meet other people and share our faith. Also, as Christians, we may view our jobs differently from non-Christians. In addition to our jobs being a place to use our abilities to earn a living, they may also be a place to reflect the light of Jesus to those who do not know Him.

Jesus tells us in His Word, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

So how can we be this light, letting our light “shine before men” in our workplace? We can start by developing good working relationships with our coworkers. As Christians, we must model integrity on the job. This would include being a diligent worker and even doing a little more work than necessary. We need to avoid backstabbing, gossiping or grumbling about everything that does not go our way. We need to be honest and make sure we do not take extra long breaks or sneak out a bit early when the boss is not there, or take home a few office supplies, justifying our actions by saying they do not pay us enough anyway.

People observe our lives, especially when they know that we are Christians. They will observe how we react when we are going through a difficult time in our marriage or when our child has some difficulties. They will observe how we handle stress and hardships. They will notice if we are stingy or generous. They will see how we handle a sickness or death in the family. They will take note if we are going around with a depressed downtrodden look, but they will also notice if we have an unexplainable joy in the midst of distressing circumstances. They will see if we react to problems with the typical anxiety or maintain a sense of peace that does not make sense in the natural world.

When they observe differences in us, they will begin to ask what makes us tick. They will wonder how we are able to model the “fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Ephesians 5:22), even in the workplace.

We can let our light shine by being kind, understanding, concerned and sympathetic to those around us. Just showing some interest in what they say can open doors to friendships. Encouraging others is an easy but often ignored practice in the workplace. A few kind words or a compliment can have more of an impact than we realize.

We often cannot share our faith during our workday when we are paid for working, not talking. But our lives can be our witness. Our coworkers will be attracted to our light in a dark place. By developing relationships with them, by showing concern for them and an interest in their lives, opportunities may open to us to share our faith during lunch breaks or get-togethers after work.

It is important that we earn their respect and their trust and then we can share how we reflect the light of the Son and how they too can have this light in their lives.