Blog - Grasping Vocation
Religious Ruts in Your Work World: Part 11Friday, June 04, 2010
BUT SCRIPTURE MAKES IT CLEAR: YOU AND OTHER BELIEVERS AT WORK ARE TO SERVE EACH OTHER
His work had stirred intense opposition. This, combined with travel fatigue to the point of exhaustion, left him vulnerable. God had clearly worked through him, but he was ready to hang it all up. At that point, this strong but isolated believer told God, “I am the only one left.” No, God told Elijah. I still have 7,000 in Israel who have not bowed down to Baal. (I Kings 19:1-18).
Today, Christians in all kinds of workplaces can easily reach that I-am-the-only-one-left point. A pilot said, “I spent a lot of time on the road, and I knew that my Christian life shouldn't stop just because I left my house and local church family. I wanted to connect with other Christians at work.” That desire led this pilot to join The Fellowship of Christian Airline Personnel. In the medical arena, Nurses Christian Fellowship links believers together. The Christian Fellowship of Coca-Cola meets regularly to pray, to encourage each other, to study the Bible, and to help others.
But countless other believers do not work in industries or companies where such fellowships exist. Many can empathize with Elijah, who faced his crisis in a desert. In his article, “Why Workplace Ministry?” Daniel Lau writes: “For many, time at the workplace marks the ‘wilderness' part of their week.” That may ring true with you. And it probably does for other believers in your network of workplace relationships. What can you do?
Begin by rethinking the way you define “church.” The work of the pilot quoted above took him away from his “local church.” When many Christians think of church, they think—narrowly—of just the gathered church, of the believers they meet with on the weekend. But the church remains the church on weekdays and workdays. It simply shifts from its gathered form into its scattered form. We call soldiers gathered inside their base an “army.” They do not cease being an army when deployed. The church in the workplace is there in its deployed form.
Continue by rethinking the way you define “ministry.” Too often, we shrink-wrap ministry to services provided within a local church building or program. But ministry—serving others—stretches far beyond that. Inside an army base, instructors serve others by preparing battle-ready soldiers. But once deployed, those same soldiers serve each other. The ministries within a local church should equip workplace-ready disciples. Then, out in the trenches of their workplaces, those disciples should continue looking out for each other.
Ask God to make you able to recognize the believers within your working circle. Think of co-workers, bosses, subordinates, customers, clients, students, vendors, and so on. Forget denominational labels. You probably interact with these believers more often than you do most people in your own local church. That translates into more opportunities to practice the one-anothering commands of the New Testament with your network of believers in the workplace than with any other group.
What are those commands? Accept. Love. Serve. Pray for. Encourage. Build up. Forgive. And that's just a partial list. Does workplace ministry require stealing time from your employer? Not in the least. You can serve the believers in your work world before and after hours, during breaks, lunch hours—and even in your own home on weekends.
Paul, writing to believers, said, “…whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith” (Gal. 6:10, NLT). Especially them! The family of faith extends well beyond those you meet with on weekends. It also includes the Christ-followers in your work world.
What creative ways might you have found to serve other believers in your workday network?