Labor For Christ In The Workplace

The majority of Christians are not paid to do ministry—they’re just average folks with “normal” jobs. They are accountants, construction workers, nurses, cashiers, teachers, custodians, lawyers, and every other kind of esteemed or humble profession. These believers don’t spend their days studying the Bible or performing explicitly spiritual tasks—they punch numbers, dig holes, administer IV fluids, teach long division, mop bathrooms, and try cases. However, does the “unspiritual” nature of the average Christian’s job duties mean his or her work is not—or cannot be—Kingdom work? Absolutely not!

So many of us, though, have a compartmentalized perspective of our lives in which our spiritual work and earthly work don’t mingle. We seek the Lord in the wee hours of the morning and disciple our families in the evenings, but our time between clocking-in and clocking-out is spent just trying to earn a dollar. We see our work as a purely secular means to meet one earthly end: payin’ bills. But what if, from God’s perspective, our jobs aren’t merely a means to make a buck? What if he has sovereignly guided us into specific vocations within specific companies in order to make much of Christ through us in those spaces? What if our careers aren’t supposed to be mainly about us and our worldly needs, but about God’s glory and his mission to save those who are far from him?

Before transitioning into full-time writing in 2015, I worked in health and fitness. I zealously entered the industry as a personal trainer in 2008. I loved working out and was good with people, which made me pretty successful pretty quickly. But over time, my passion for personal training fizzled out, so I switched over to the business side of the industry and began to manage. I enjoyed running health clubs at first, but once again, over time, my interest waned. I was no longer fulfilled in any area of that industry—but I couldn’t just quit! Lacking a college education sorta kinda limits your options. So I trudged onward in the only field in which I had any experience, praying that the Lord would lead me into a different vocation.

But God didn’t answer that prayer—not for some time, anyway. Instead, he led me into a different perspective of my current vocation.

As I grew to understand that God laid claim on my entire life and desired to redeem every area for his glory and purposes, everything—including my job—began to take on a different light. I realized that performing my job duties well was actually an act of worship (Colossians 3:23, Ephesians 6:7). Being mindful of God as I worked with integrity brought glory to God, and realizing this gave the day-to-day tasks of running a gym new meaning for me. But what was even more transformative was realizing God had put me in that position mainly for the purpose of mission. He placed me smack dab in the middle of a multitude of unbelievers whom I was to talk with and befriend (per my employer’s wishes!). As general manager of the club, it was my primary responsibility to cultivate a sense of community where everyone felt welcomed and accepted. I was to spend the majority of my time getting to know the members, initiating friendships, and connecting members with other members.

My eyes were finally opened to the most amazing thing I had been blind to for years: my job was a breeding ground for relational evangelism!

I can’t fully express in a mere blog post the explosive levels of joy I experienced as I began to live on mission for Jesus in my workplace. I didn’t wear Christian T-shirts or hand out gospel tracts (I would have been fired!)—I just intentionally pursued meaningful friendships with the people who were around me. And in the context of those relationships, I was able to love people with Christ’s love and share the gospel with them. Within months of utilizing my vocational position for God’s purposes, I was having multiple one-on-one Bible studies with gym members, co-workers, and even my boss’s rebellious teenage son. I witnessed the Holy Spirit move mightily in people’s lives, drawing them to God, awakening faith, and creating in their hearts a love for Jesus.

Over the next two years, I gave my life (and vocation) over to the mission of God and found more happiness and purpose than I have ever experienced. I no longer saw my job as a burden I had to endure, but a blessing through which I was able to serve God and see him move powerfully. In 2015, I transitioned into a full time writing career that gives me the opportunity to communicate the gospel to hundreds of thousands of people every year. I am so thankful for this vocation. It is literally my dream job, and I love how I am able to serve the purposes of the Lord within it. But if all this writing stuff fell apart and I had to go find a job at a gym—or at a Starbucks, Walgreens, or Subway—I would do so with joy, knowing that I can serve God wherever he leads me.

You guys, our day jobs don’t have to be burdens we simply endure. They can be enormous blessings through which we glorify God and live on mission for his gospel. Whether we will or not—well, that’s up to us.

  • Barb

    I did serve Christ in my workplace…and got fired. I worked at Penn State University as an administrative support assistant, and one day in 2011 a coworker began discussing the phrase In God We Trust as he pulled a dollar bill from his pocket. Because I was violating so-called “diversity” as I discussed American history and the role of Christian influence, I was reprimanded and placed on 90 day probation, required to attend bi-weekly meetings (which were nothing but bully sessions cramming “diversity” down my throat) and then fired at the end of the 90 days.

    My coworker started the discussion at my desk regarding our national motto, but his real beef was with the fact that gays at that time could not get married. When he turned our discussion from American history into a debate about same-sex rights, I was immediately warned that it was a big no-no to disagree since he or someone else may be offended.

    The idea of freedom of speech is nothing more than a joke in some professions! Especially in colleges and universities where liberalism is the default position and anyone who opposes liberal ideas is in big trouble! Unfortunately, I do not see this trend changing any time soon. It’s only getting worse! I immediately filed a religious discrimination complaint with the PA Human Relations Commission which was dual-filed with the EEOC, but my claim was denied. I appealed and it was denied again. It’s a no-win in our insane culture! With no money to continue to fight as a single mother, I had to cease striving for justice and accept the rotten outcome.

    • Ernest Zenone

      I went through this at my job, but, was not terminated. With me, as a maintenance employee, the tenants became friends over time, and they would initiate conversations. Most never complained. But, a few did. So, I was told by my employer to stop. I explained that I only answer people when they ask a question. But, as you say, we live in “1984” where Big Brother is watching every move, especially Christians who share their faith. It’s persecution! The government and our culture are ok with Christians as long as we keep our mouth shut and go to church and keep it all there. But we must witness. I lead a group of church members on evangelistic outreach door to door and at public areas.
      God could have intervened in your case. He didn’t. So this is part of carrying our cross.
      The Constitution is being scrapped! My prayer: “Lord, please comfort Barb and provide for her. I pray the Holy Spirit convict those on her job of sin in rejecting your word and repent and be saved. Have mercy on our nation that those in government, education and entertainment who claim to be Christians and yet ‘frame mischief by law’ will publicly repent and confess you before men. I pray in Jesus’ Name. Amen.”

      • Barb

        Thank you SO MUCH, Ernest! Thank you for praying and asking for God’s provision for me. It has been an extremely difficult few years! I’m still not employed and live hand-to-mouth on my son’s disability income from his dad’s disability. We are divorced and my son gets a portion of his dad’s benefits.

        I had a part-time job at a local pizza shop for a while, and also did some housecleaning, but the owner was a con artist who tacked phony charges onto people’s food bills every chance he could, and he also picked food up off the floor and served it, washed dishes in cold water, never sanitized, and a myriad of other things that caused me to lie awake at night, so I quit!

        As time goes on, I feel like I can’t fit into any job due to all the hysteria over “diversity” today which requires everyone to be very careful not to offend anyone, especially gays or Muslims. Too many people walk around in jobs like on egg shells nowadays afraid to say anything that might spark controversy. Yet certain other people can express themselves and say anything at all and are protected by “free speech.” Speech today is free for some, not all. It’s very lop-sided!

        You are SO RIGHT – Christians are expected to keep their faith locked tightly behind the four walls of church in today’s America. Our Founders are undoubtedly rolling over in their graves! The whole idea of freedom stemmed from Christian principles, but it has morphed into an ugly concept that our Founders had not intended at all!

        Arrogant atheists are filing lawsuits left and right via the “Freedom FROM Religion Foundation” and other groups, and far too many people in our culture believe the LIES that our founders wanted zero intersection between God and government. Far from it! They were great men of faith who referenced God at almost every turn. This complete ignorance of American history is being spread far and wide and people are eating up so they can do their own thing in the name of “freedom.”

        I, for one, am sick and tired of our heritage being erased by this. If we don’t fight to push back against this tide, what will our children and grandchildren’s future look like? God help us and them! I felt the nudge of the Holy Spirit to speak up on His behalf and it cost me dearly. However, I now know that “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (II Timothy 3:12). And so I consider it an honor to suffer for His sake.

        I would greatly appreciate your continued prayers because I struggle every day to get by and have many unpaid bills. I have been praying desperately for a long time for guidance to know which way to go from here.

        God bless you!
        Barb

        • Ernest Zenone

          Barb: thanks for your reply. You sure have a heart for Jesus! And He knows all about your struggles. Like you, I went through times when we didn’t know where the next dollar was going to come from. We raised 3 boys despite my lack of schooling, many minimum wage jobs, etc. However, I also had (and have) a wife who stuck with me all the way through all our troubles. (‘for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and health’) And she is not saved!! I just prayed that the Lord would provide you with financial help and a job that will meet needs and won’t take advantage of you. Wait on the Lord, as, in His time, He will give you clear direction and provisions in your struggles. What about a food bank to help with food? We go to several each month and get a lot of good food that helps us live within very limited budget. Food costs can be a lot, so, I pray you can check out this source. Also, are you going to a faithful church? Can they help you?
          You are on my ongoing prayer list. May the Holy Spirit comfort you.

          • Barb

            Thanks again, Ernest! Yes, I do get help from various agencies. I hope I didn’t sound like I am unwilling to work. Believe me, I stuck it out at that pizza place as long as I could, but I could not continue being a part of the health violations and all the cheating that was going on. The owner is from Guatemala and mostly has family members working for him who will do whatever he says. But I was not willing to cut corners like he wanted because he is playing Russian roulette with people’s health. He also was not giving me many hours. He started out giving me about 30 hours a week and then cut me back and back, and in the end I was only getting 15. Can’t live on that many at only minimum wage! The past few years have been a great trial, and very confusing. I desperately want things to change so I can provide for my family, but things are at a standstill, it seems. Some days I feel like I’m going to go crazy. Thank you for your continued prayers. God bless you!

          • Barb

            One more thing… I did get a little bit of justice (of sorts) from my ordeal at Penn State. I contacted WORLD magazine in the fall of 2013 and met with a journalist who wrote about it. Here is the article if you’re interested. http://www.worldmag.com/2014/02/pink_slip_speech

          • Ernest Zenone

            I just read the article. It’s the best explanation of why Christians lose their jobs for witnessing. I shared it on a FB prayer ministry so they can also pray for you and others. Still the protection of free speech seems to have been changed to be restricted only to government? WIERD!! This is not freedom! Who came up with that idea?

          • Ernest Zenone

            I’ve seen this kind of treatment so often, and, like you I’ve felt I was losing it. A lot of stress. May our Lord protect you mentally, emotionally and physically. We are attacked on all fronts. As Jesus said to Peter:
            “Satan has desired to sift you as wheat”. This is what we face as Christians. We always need the complete suit of armor from God! Did I recommend the book “Pilgrim’s Progress” to you? Have you read it? It’s an awesome book! “Lord, please watch over Barb and provide for her, I pray, in Jesus’ name.”

          • Barb

            There is much, much more to my story that I could go on and on. Not only my loss of income and benefits, my daughter had just begun her sophomore year at Penn State when I was terminated which caused her to lose the 75% tuition discount that I was receiving as an employee. That was very devastating! They knew fully well how many people would suffer from what they did to me as a single mother. Not only me but my children have had to suffer due to this injustice. So much for freedom! If we do not have freedom of speech to be able to talk about our own national motto in a public university, then what freedom do we truly have anymore? It’s absolutely ludicrous!

  • Lyle Nelson

    This reminds me of a saying our pastors usually use at the end of each service, “You have six days of mission between now and next Sunday, please don’t waste them!” Our pastor frequently tells us that we are all missionaries, the only difference is that some are working in a church and being paid to do it full time; the rest of us have jobs that may have a different primary purpose, but we are still expected to incorporate mission work as part of our “regular job” as God gives us the opportunity to do so.

    And there all sorts of excuses people have for not doing it, none of them valid in comparison with Jesus’s command.
    Such as:
    – I don’t have time. (Your priorities are probably out-of-line).
    – I don’t know how to go about it. (Find some training or mentoring).
    – I don’t know anyone who isn’t already a Christian. (Broaden your circle of relationships.)
    – As our culture deteriorates, there is much more employer and government resistance and outright prohibition of promoting our Christian faith in the workplace. (This is certainly true, but there may be ways to get around this, such as first developing a non-faith based relationship and extending it to include discussion of the Gospel outside the workplace. Ever since the beginning of the church, Christians have been persecuted for promoting their faith, most of the apostles were severely persecuted and martyred. Nowhere does the Bible indicate that is a valid reason for remaining silent).

    And there are no doubt many more excuses, none of them valid in God’s eyes.