How to Honor God in a Hostile Workplace
Written by Phylicia Masonheimer | July 22, 2016
Whether you’re working a summer job or you’re in the midst of your post-college career, the workplace can be a tough environment for Christian women. Women in general often struggle to achieve respect in the workplace; add to that the cultural aversion to Christian beliefs and the office becomes a test of more than just our work ethic—it’s a test of character.
Jesus warned us that people wouldn’t always like us or what we believe (John 15:18-21). Even so, we have a responsibility to represent the gospel with both our words and actions. How can we honor God when our coworkers are hostile to our worldview? Here are three ways to do it.
1. Draw a line.
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. (2 Corinthians 6:14-16)
There is a line drawn in our friendships with unbelievers. We are called to love them where they are, just as Jesus did (Mark 2:16). But we must also make a distinct separation between our lifestyle and theirs. We don’t win people to Christ by being “just like them.” The best way to speak the gospel to your coworkers is to stand on biblical convictions with kindness and grace; they will notice the difference.
But what if they notice the difference—and don’t like it? In some workplaces, the environment is so hostile to Christianity that even a semi-logical discussion of it is impossible. In the workplace environment, respect is key to successful communication. Our own words should be kind and respectful to all, but that doesn’t mean we act like a doormat, either. Stand on what you believe. Defend your views logically and with kindness. But draw a line when it comes to disrespect, gently confronting those who resort to name calling and malicious behavior in order to establish your role in the workplace community.
2. Don’t quarrel.
And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth… (2 Timothy 2:24-25)
Nobody wants a tense workplace. Unfortunately, this is exactly what quarreling brings. Though we should always be ready to give an answer for what we believe, we must also use discretion. There are certain times when—and certain people with whom—it is inadvisable to have a discussion as it will just descend into a quarrel.
The goal of the gospel is to “grant repentance” and lead our friends and colleagues to a “knowledge of the truth.” By keeping this in mind, it’s much easier to walk away from a fight, refusing to take the words of a hostile coworker personally.
3. Do good.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)
Our mission in the workplace and in the world is to shine a light of hope into the darkness of unsaved lives. Many people put up a bold front; they act as if life is perfect and the last thing they’d want is the Christian God. But over time, your hope and faith will prove itself lasting. When times get hard, the very people who rejected you at work may come to you for wisdom and advice.
This is why it’s so important that we walk in grace as well as truth. Our integrity must be matched by our kindness so our colleagues know they can trust both our knowledge and our heart. This was the way of Jesus, who spent time with “sinners and prostitutes,” but did not adopt their ways. He offered His wisdom and His presence, but neither His knowledge nor His desires were altered by their sin. We have the power of Christ in our lives to walk in the way He walked.
Being a Christian calls us to be the best we can be in all areas of life, especially at work. The simple act of being a great employee is a good deed in itself—one that can point our coworkers to the Lord and open a door for the gospel to be shared.