090531 More Than A Job 03 Work Is Witness

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Sermon 3 of 3 on the Christian at work. Presented May 31, 2009, at Palm Desert Church of Christ by Dale Wells.

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090531 More Than A Job 03 Work Is Witness

  1. 3. Boston Globe article about religion in the workplace <ul><li>Jewish writer finds herself in awkward situations </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Some expect her to be representative of Jews/Israel </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Butt of ethnic jokes & racial slurs </li></ul></ul><ul><li>One co-worker targeted her for evangelism: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Uses work as recruiting center </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Converting Jews his personal mission </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Constantly finding tracts on her desk </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Finally convinced him that she would not convert </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>He now tries to convert clients </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Her message to workplace evangelists … </li></ul>
  2. 5. Raises questions for Christian workers who … <ul><li>Believe the gospel can improve anyone’s life </li></ul><ul><li>Care about the people we work with </li></ul><ul><li>Want to share peace, joy & hope we’ve found </li></ul><ul><li>Are eager to share the gospel everywhere we go </li></ul><ul><li>But fellow-workers are uncomfortable when we treat the workplace as our personal mission field </li></ul>
  3. 7. What can we do? <ul><li>Recent legislation & court rulings declare proselytizing on the job to be a form of harassment, calling for discipline or termination </li></ul><ul><li>Want to share faith, but not to offend or get fired </li></ul><ul><li>How do we share our faith at work in a way that’s legal, appropriate, and effective? </li></ul><ul><li>Today’s question in “More Than a Job – The Christian’s Career” </li></ul>
  4. 8. We’re talking about how to be effective
  5. 9. Basic message is that work is good <ul><li>Many see work as a necessary evil that can only be justified by evangelizing our co-workers </li></ul><ul><li>Not a biblical picture </li></ul><ul><li>According to the Bible, work is good </li></ul><ul><li>Lesson 1: When we give our best at work, as if for God himself, our work is an act of worship </li></ul><ul><li>Lesson 2: When we use God-given abilities to make the world better, work is worthwhile </li></ul><ul><li>Today: When our work product is exceptional, so much that others wonder why, work is witness </li></ul>
  6. 12. 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 NIV <ul><li>Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, (12) so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. </li></ul><ul><li>A curious bit of career counsel </li></ul>
  7. 14. Imagine being asked during your job interview: <ul><li>“ Where would you like to be five years from now if you were to join us here at Dunder-Mifflin?” </li></ul><ul><li>You say, “Well, sir, my ambition is to lead a quiet life here at DM. You know, keep a low profile, nose to the grindstone, that sort of thing </li></ul><ul><li>As long as I get a paycheck, I’ll happily spend my career here in the shredding room.” </li></ul><ul><li>Would you hire somebody like that? </li></ul><ul><li>What prompts Paul to offer this instruction? </li></ul>
  8. 15. First <ul><li>Most of the Christians in Thessalonica were Gentiles & were heavily influenced by Greek culture and philosophy </li></ul><ul><li>Greeks had a low view of manual labor </li></ul><ul><li>Paul is addressing that bias & affirming working class Christians </li></ul>
  9. 16. Second <ul><li>Thessalonican Christians were in a panic about Christ’s second coming </li></ul><ul><li>Certain that he was coming back soon </li></ul><ul><li>Afraid they might miss it </li></ul><ul><li>Some neglecting work & quitting jobs </li></ul><ul><li>Watching for the Lord’s return </li></ul><ul><li>Wanted to be busy at his work when he came </li></ul>
  10. 17. Third <ul><li>Some Christians so publicly demonstrative about their faith that they were inviting persecution </li></ul><ul><li>Made life more difficult for themselves & the rest of the believers </li></ul>
  11. 18. Paul writes to correct their misunderstandings
  12. 19. First <ul><li>He reminds the church of Thessalonica that work itself is a noble endeavor </li></ul><ul><li>When you use the strength & skills God has given you to be productive & to provide for your loved ones, it’s right & good </li></ul><ul><li>That’s true whether you’re working with your hands or your head </li></ul>
  13. 20. Second <ul><li>If Christ were to return suddenly, he would be as pleased to find you selling widgets or doing laundry as he would be to find you preaching on a street corner </li></ul><ul><li>When you make a positive contribution to company, customers, community or campus, you are doing God’s work </li></ul>
  14. 21. Third <ul><li>There are times when making a public spectacle of your faith can be counter-productive for you & the gospel </li></ul><ul><li>Sometimes, the best thing you can do for the gospel is to do your job, and to do it so well that you win the respect of those around you </li></ul>
  15. 22. Unfortunately, not all Christians work that way <ul><li>Some employers don’t like to hire Christians </li></ul><ul><li>Their reasons: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Christians have a terrible work ethic </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>They’re not productive </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>They expect special treatment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>They don’t seem to care that much about their work </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Employers’ reasons are based on experience </li></ul><ul><li>Christian bosses disappointed & embarrassed </li></ul><ul><li>Unproductive employees discredit the gospel </li></ul>
  16. 23. What would the people you work with say about you? <ul><li>Are you so conscientious about your work, so skilled at what you do, so helpful to the people around you, that it makes them wonder why you work the way you do? </li></ul>
  17. 24. Christian woman named Edna took a job with an engineering firm <ul><li>Took seriously her responsibility to share faith </li></ul><ul><li>Got permission to hold a Christmas party </li></ul><ul><li>Her preacher came with portable PA system </li></ul><ul><li>Co-workers complained & she was reprimanded </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Started distributing tracts at the office </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Started sending Bible verses by e-mail to co-workers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Eventually fired for using company time & equipment </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Alienated the people she hoped to reach </li></ul><ul><li>Lost opportunity she would have had to share her faith if she had simply done her job! </li></ul>
  18. 26. Paul Borthwick: Stop Witnessing, Start Loving <ul><li>Message: Most effective way to share faith is to talk less & love more </li></ul><ul><li>People don’t want to be “witnessed to” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Want to be valued & accepted for who they are </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>They’ll be more willing to hear about your faith </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Best way to share faith at work is stop witnessing & start working </li></ul>
  19. 27. In other words, do your job & do it well <ul><li>Let the quality of your work be so distinctive that it wins their respect </li></ul><ul><li>That creates all kinds of opportunities to speak about your faith to people who are willing to listen </li></ul><ul><li>Work is good for the gospel when its quality causes people to wonder why </li></ul>
  20. 29. 1 Peter 3:15-16 NIV <ul><li>But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, (16) keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. </li></ul>
  21. 30. Some background will help <ul><li>Addressing believers scattered through Roman empire, many in areas hostile to their faith </li></ul><ul><ul><li>They were a minority population </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Beliefs & practices misunderstood </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Considered a threat to society </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Suffered social & economic persecution for faith </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Shut out of social circles </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Struggling to work in their communities </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What does Peter have to say to them and to us? </li></ul>
  22. 32. Verse 15: <ul><li>“ In your hearts, set apart Christ as Lord.” </li></ul><ul><li>Before you share your faith on the job or otherwise, get this straight: Christ is in charge </li></ul><ul><li>Christ is in charge of your working life – not your company, customers, co-workers, or culture </li></ul><ul><li>Remember, you work for God </li></ul><ul><li>When you live & work the way God would have you live & work, it will get people’s attention </li></ul><ul><li>They’ll notice & wonder why </li></ul><ul><li>In fact, they won’t just wonder; they’ll ask </li></ul>
  23. 33. Verse 16: <ul><li>“ Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” </li></ul><ul><li>You don’t have to make a lot of noise about your faith, pressure people into conversations they’re not comfortable with, or hack into the office network & change all screen savers to John 3:16 </li></ul><ul><li>When you work like a Christian, it will be so distinctive & compelling, that people will ask you </li></ul><ul><li>They’ll want to know what makes you tick </li></ul>
  24. 34. Has that ever happened to you? <ul><li>Has anyone ever said to you, “There’s something about the way you flip burgers or build houses or raise children or sell insurance that’s different from the way other people work” </li></ul><ul><li>That can & will happen, if you make Christ Lord over your work </li></ul><ul><li>When it does happen, will you be ready & able to answer them? </li></ul><ul><li>Being prepared means two things: </li></ul>
  25. 35. First, it means being willing <ul><li>These Christians were living in a hostile environment </li></ul><ul><li>It wasn’t easy or comfortable for them to talk about their faith </li></ul><ul><li>It isn’t always easy or comfortable to talk about your faith at work </li></ul><ul><li>So the first question is, are you willing to give an answer – to speak up about your faith? </li></ul>
  26. 36. Second, it means being able – when someone asks … <ul><li>Why you work so hard when no one is watching </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Because I believe my work matters to God & I want to do it to the best of my ability” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Why you’re patient with customers or co-workers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Because I believe every person matters to God & is worth my best attention” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Why you have such a positive outlook </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Because Christ has filled my life with joy & hope” </li></ul></ul>
  27. 37. “ Do this with gentleness & respect” <ul><li>You don’t have to </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Get in people’s faces </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tell people more than they want to hear </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Attack their faith or lack of faith </li></ul></ul><ul><li>All we have to do is to work in such a way that it prompts people to ask us why </li></ul><ul><li>And when they do, we offer a clear & honest response that respects their beliefs & the rules of the workplace </li></ul><ul><li>When we do, our work is good for the gospel </li></ul>
  28. 39. Randy Kilgore is vice president of Marketplace Network <ul><li>Writes on-line devotional for people in the workplace called Marketplace Moments </li></ul><ul><li>Describes a conversation with a woman on a commuter train </li></ul><ul><li>They got talking about faith & work </li></ul><ul><li>She was not a believer & had issues with Christians in the workplace </li></ul>
  29. 40. Five things you want from co-workers who claim to be Christians
  30. 41. First: <ul><li>“ I wish my Christian co-workers … knew more about their faith – what they believe and why” </li></ul><ul><li>Who would’ve thought the people you work with wished you knew more about your faith? </li></ul><ul><li>It seems that when they ask questions, they are looking for a thoughtful, substantive answer </li></ul><ul><li>They don’t want some glib Christian cliché or an embarrassed or hurried response </li></ul><ul><li>They really want to know what we believe & why </li></ul><ul><li>Isn’t that what Peter just told us? </li></ul>
  31. 43. Second: <ul><li>“ I wish my Christian co-workers … had more hope in hard times” </li></ul><ul><li>When bad things happen in the world – like terrorist attacks or tsunamis – or when bad things happen in life – like sickness or family strife – people look to Christians for hope </li></ul><ul><li>They’re looking for positive perspective on what’s happening, some source of strength </li></ul><ul><li>The same thing people were looking for back in Peter’s day! </li></ul>
  32. 44. Third: <ul><li>“ I wish my Christian co-workers … were more curious about the hard questions of life, so that when asked those questions, they would already have answers” </li></ul><ul><li>People are far more interested in talking about spiritual things than we give them credit for </li></ul><ul><li>They’re wishing that the Christians they knew were more willing to talk about those things, too </li></ul>
  33. 45. Fourth: <ul><li>“ I wish my Christian co-workers … behaved more honorably” </li></ul><ul><li>People expect Christians to live distinctive lives & are disappointed when they see no difference in the way we live or work </li></ul><ul><li>Suddenly we realize why it’s so important that we “set apart Christ as Lord” </li></ul>
  34. 47. Fifth: <ul><li>“ I wish my Christian co-workers … were more compassionate” </li></ul><ul><li>Many Christians come across as harsh, judgmental, insensitive & intolerant </li></ul><ul><li>People aren’t bothered by the fact that we’re passionate about our faith, they just wish we weren’t so hard on people who don’t share it </li></ul><ul><li>Now we know why Peter calls for “gentleness and respect” </li></ul>
  35. 48. Isn’t that an interesting list? <ul><li>They didn’t say: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ I wish Christians would keep their faith to themselves” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ I wish Christians would loosen up and party once in a while or bend the rules a bit to close a deal” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>All they want is for us to be true to our faith, honest about our struggles, serious about our work & respectful of those who see things differently than we do </li></ul>
  36. 49. There’s good news and bad news <ul><li>Good news: Christians still are the “go-to” people when life gets hard & people are looking for answers </li></ul><ul><li>Bad news: When they look to us for hope or help, they’re often disappointed by the quality of our faith & our inability to answer their questions </li></ul>
  37. 50. Are you prepared to give an answer for the hope you have? <ul><li>Do you know what you believe and why? </li></ul><ul><li>Are you able to share your faith with gentleness and respect? </li></ul>
  38. 52. Imagine how meaningful your work would become <ul><li>If you made it your goal every day to work in such a way that you would win the respect of people around you </li></ul><ul><li>Imagine how exciting it would be to have one of those people turn to you and ask why </li></ul><ul><li>Imagine how good it would feel to give them a gentle and reasonable answer for the hope you have in Christ </li></ul><ul><li>Imagine what can happen when we see our work as worship, worthwhile & witness </li></ul>

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