“Big Charlie” is an ex-marine I met five years ago at work. He’s in his 60s and is a little rough around the edges, sometimes perceived as ill-tempered or mean-spirited because he doesn’t want to let his guard down. One day, I got a call at my workstation to let me know that Charlie’s brother had died.
After Charlie got the news about his brother, I watched him burst through the door from our office area onto the nearby dock. I could tell no one wanted to approach him, probably thinking he was in one of his foul moods. I went out to him anyway, hugged him, and told him I was sorry about the passing of his brother. He hugged me back and thanked me. We talked for a little while about his brother and parted ways.
Over the next few days, Charlie stopped by my workstation to talk about his brother and their relationship. On the third day after his brother’s death, he stepped into my workstation and said, “I just wanted to thank you for caring about me and listening to me. That meant a lot.”
Our friendship didn’t begin right there, but Charlie and I have developed a relationship of support and encouragement in the workplace over the years. It started with that connection. Opportunities to build relationships with “Big Charlies” and others in your place of work abound. How can you use those opportunities to be a witness for Christ?
Setting the Example in the Workplace
One might say that the role of a deacon in the workplace is to set an example by living a Christ-like lifestyle. This may be true, but how we go about setting that example is important.
For instance, how is a coworker to know you are leading a Christ-like lifestyle if he doesn’t know Christ and what He is about? The best way to introduce someone at your workplace to Christ is to show him or her that you are involved in a relationship with God, not just a religion about God.
Your everyday routine can tell others a lot about you. For instance, do you wait for someone to make the coffee each morning then run to the coffee pot, or do you make the coffee some days and serve the others as they gather for their first cup? Silly? Maybe not. A lot of conversation goes on at the coffee pot. What could be a better place to listen and get a feel for what kind of day a coworker may be facing or might have had yesterday?
Do you really want to share Jesus with your coworkers? Then make a difference at your workplace by being different. That doesn’t mean to take the posture of a religious person who only makes religious statements. It means taking a different approach to solving a problem or a different approach to helping someone with a particular work task. Your different approach begins with the heart of a servant. Roll up your sleeves and let those you work with know what you are all about.
If you tell someone at work that you will pray for him, do it! I had a coworker whose mother became suddenly ill and was hospitalized. When I found out, I asked her what her mother’s name was and told her I would pray for her. I also asked if there was anything specific I should pray for. She said, “Yes, please pray that the swelling will go down in her brain, and she will recognize me again.”
I didn’t see her at work for the next few days, but I continued to pray. Finally, toward the end of the week, I saw her and asked how “Elizabeth” was doing. She told me she was improving each day. Then she asked me how I knew her mother’s name. I reminded her that she told me and that I had been praying daily that Elizabeth might recover and recognize her daughter. We now have a special friendship that exists within the workplace, and I have the opportunity to share Christ with her.
As deacons, as Christians, we should try to put the fruits of the Spirit into practice: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control–even in the workplace. What better way to introduce someone to God? If you will be faithful in your example and witness, God will do the rest. He can use you no matter what your title or position is at work. Remember, God is your ultimate boss, and He asks only that we serve others in His name.