Christian Living

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General Bible Courses > Living by the Book > Career by the Book

Chapter 15: Relating to Fellow Workers


IN THIS CHAPTER, you will discover:

·   How to witness effectively in the workplace.

·   The value of nonverbal communication as a witnessing tool.

AS A RESULT, you will be able to:

·   Share the gospel with your coworkers in the workplace.

·   Develop godly communication skills.

Relating to Fellow Workers

Key Scripture: "Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain" (1 Cor. 15:58).

Evangelization has moved out of the neighborhood and into the workplace. Because of its social importance, the workplace has become the most strategic arena for Christian influence today. Christian workers have become pivotal figures in evangelism. But Christians, like everyone else, have two choices concerning their workstyle. Either they can set the pace by their godly lifestyles, or they can follow the crowd.

Closet Christians

Some Christians are reluctant to speak about their faith because they desire to be accepted by the group. Rather than risk exclusion, they simply keep quiet. It is natural to want to belong. But when peer approval becomes more important than God's approval, Christians place themselves in a dangerous spiritual position. Initially, they develop an unhealthy emotional life by denying their true feelings and normal responses. As they allow others to set the agenda, these "people-pleasers" override God's original plan for their lives.

Another group of Christians believe that no one has the right to "foist" their values on another. But anyone who adheres to this idea has forgotten a basic Christian precept: We are all called to share the gospel and to speak the truth in love. God never condones "closet" Christians (Matt. 10:27) or those who follow Jesus from a distance.

Leaders in the Workplace

God has strategically placed believers among coworkers who do not know him. Their responsibility is to emulate Christ, thereby pointing unbelievers toward God. As the Holy Spirit encourages and undergirds Christian leaders in the workplace, their witness becomes increasingly effective. Operating on biblical principles, these believers exhibit godly leadership in the following ways:

By the Quality of Their Work. "His work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work" (1 Cor. 3:13). The people who command the greatest respect are those who are most proficient at their jobs. Therefore, when they speak, people listen, even to topics that are totally unrelated to their work. Looking at this phenomenon from a secular viewpoint, consider famous sports figures on TV who give advice on subjects ranging from nutrition to automobiles. Their expertise may be minimal, yet people listen just the same. Christians can use this foible of human nature to their advantage. They can become workers who emulate Christ by the excellence of their work and attitude.

By the Quality of Their Lives. "Live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age" (Titus 2:12). In a day when immorality of every kind is rampant and sin apparently is an outmoded word, everyone seems to operate by the same rules: do whatever is necessary to benefit yourself; cover your tracks; and don't get caught. In this type of work environment, a Christian lifestyle certainly stands out. People whose ethics cannot be bought and whose integrity is beyond question draw coworkers to Christ. Their lack of self-centeredness demonstrates the clearest picture of Christ that coworkers may ever see. But only Christians who know the tremendous price that God has paid for them can understand the value of moral purity. Integrity is not something Christians are obligated to have; it is something they are privileged to have.

By the Quality of Their Speech. "Set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity" (1 Tim. 4:12). The daily speech of believers should be edifying to their coworkers and worthy of the name Christian. Then, when an opportunity for evangelizing arises, Christians should talk about Christ in a clear and honest way. They should have a concise, memorized explanation of the gospel ready to share. Concise is the key word here, since many people are put off by long, involved scripts or testimonies. It is important for believers to answer according to the way the question is asked. If a coworker asks a brief question, he or she should be given a brief answer, not a sermon.

Policy Setting

If you have a supervisory position, you can exhibit leadership through policy setting. You can set policies with a biblical basis without giving scriptural references. Even though you are promoting truth, mercy, justice, and honesty, you are not promoting religion. Instead you are promoting values commonly appreciated by everyone. Your policy setting should be founded on Jesus Christ, the most compelling leader who ever lived. As you study Him and His words, you will also learn to incorporate enduring principles about relationships, leadership, and conflict resolution.

Biblical Conflict Resolution

Resolving conflict in the workplace is crucial to your stand as a Christian. A great deal of your credibility as a witness depends on your actions and reactions during conflict. Other persons involved in the conflict, as well as bystanders, take careful note of your conversation and behavior. To respond in a Christlike way, obey the leading of the Holy Spirit and search the Scriptures for biblical principles.

Finding biblical principles can be compared to searching for buried treasure. For both, you need a map and several good clues. The rest is easy. Here are your map and three good clues for finding your treasure. A biblical principle is a basic truth that applies to life. It may be explicitly stated or implied in the context of the passage. As you search the Scriptures, remember that valid principles have clear biblical support and practical life applications, and are consistent with the rest of the Bible.

Doug Sherman has extracted the following principles concerning conflict resolution from Scripture:

Forgive first and often. "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?’Jesus answered, I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times" (Matt. 18:21-22).

Guard yourself against bitterness. "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice" (Eph. 4:31).

Seek reconciliation quickly if you have offended someone. "Leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift" (Matt. 5:24).

Respond under control without escalating the conflict. "A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel" (Prov. 15:18).

Express your anger in a healthy way without slandering others. "Be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men" (Titus 3:1-2).

Go the extra mile with people. "If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles" (Matt. 5:41).

The Great Conversation

The Great Conversation goes far beyond mere words and personalities. It is always loaded with value statements. Verbal communication expresses ideas and values through statements and questions. But nonverbal communication expresses itself through mannerisms, moods, and lifestyle. This "silent" communication reveals more of who you are than words ever can. Every day you engage in both types of communication. Occasionally, you may have an opportunity to share your testimony. But your nonverbal statements (which you may be unaware you are communicating) will authenticate or disprove whatever you say.

In order to participate in the Great Conversation, you must first build relationships with your coworkers. The most natural relationships usually develop between coworkers who have similar jobs or positions. For example, a manager will have more in common with another manager than with an assembly worker or a computer programmer. Look for coworkers who share common interests with you. Once you have identified a few people that you would like to get to know better, begin praying for each one specifically.

You can nurture a relationship by seeing coworkers socially. Invite them to your home or out to lunch. As you become better acquainted, remember that you must be realistic and cannot rush friendships. Always be honest and authentic, never using your friendship as a pretext for witnessing. And do whatever is appropriate in the circumstances - listening, encouraging, praying, or presenting the gospel.

Whether you are bold or reserved, your proclamation of the gospel must be honest and clear. Start by telling what you know. Speak from your own experience with Jesus. Be sure to tell them how you felt before, what you found, and how you feel now. If what you say is consistent with your lifestyle and reputation, you will have a captive audience. Then allow the Holy Spirit, who has been working all along, to convict them of their sin and of their need for a loving God. You must continue being a good friend, ever ready to give an answer for the hope that you have in Jesus Christ (Titus 1:2-3).

Life Applications:

A. Extracting biblical principles

1. List three biblical principles that you are aware of. Give a Scripture reference for each.




2. Read 1 John 3:16-18. The biblical principles are easy to spot here because they are direct commands and exhortations. What are three principles taught in this passage?




3. Some Bible passages are narrative and simply imply principles. Read the story of Joseph and Potiphar's wife in Genesis 39. List three more principles that are implied in the story.

a. Success is ultimately something that God causes (vv. 2-3).




4. Other Bible passages are poetic in nature and only imply principles. Read Psalm 127 and add two more principles to the example listed.

a. The ultimate outcome of our labor is dependent on God (v. 1).




B. To determine if you are a leader in the workplace, think carefully about the following questions. Then write a brief answer.

1. What makes a person a leader?

2. What gives a leader influence?

3. Who do you follow? Why?

4. What difference do Christ and His truths make for your day-to-day life?

5. How would your life be different if you did not know Him?

6. Are you willing to relate your beliefs to every facet of your own life?

7. Are you an influencer, or are you influenced by the surrounding culture?


C. To help you witness to your non-Christian coworkers, complete the following:

1. Write a list of all your coworkers.

2. List your closest associates.

3. Review the individual names and ask yourself, "Is there anything I can do that would influence this person toward God?"

4. As you review the list, pray regularly for each person and ask God for opportunities to influence them.  


Test your knowledge on this chapter by taking the quiz at the end of chapter 16.

Take the quiz

Quiz Instructions

Please see the Review Questions at the end of Chapter 16.

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