5 Ways to Make a Difference at WorkBlog / Produced by TOW Project
If you wonder: Am I in the right job to make a difference? The answer is probably YES!
There are many ways you can change the world around you without quitting your job or changing careers. The Bible story of Daniel shows how you can make a difference at work through simple attitudes and actions. Here are 5 ways to make a difference it your workplace today.
1) Make a difference by creating good workplace relationships
Work can be isolating and stressful. People you work with may feel unsupported and alone. You can make a difference in the lives of the people around you by building positive relationships at work.
When he was in Babylon’s management training program, Daniel forged a good working relationships with his supervisor, which helped them both.
Daniel had asked his supervisor, the palace master, to be allowed to eat vegetables instead of meat sacrificed to idols. His manager worried over the idea - he could lose his job if one of his recruits looked thin or sickly. Daniel paid attention to the man’s pain points and suggesting constructive ways they could solve the problem together.
God allowed Daniel to receive favor and compassion from the palace master. The palace master said to Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king; he has appointed your food and your drink. If he should see you in poorer condition than the other young men of your own age, you would endanger my head with the king.” Then Daniel asked... “Please test your servants for ten days...then compare.” So he agreed to this proposal and tested them for ten days. - Daniel 1:9-14
Other people in Daniel’s position might have poisoned the working environment with complaints or noncompliance. But Daniel built a good working relationship with his manager by listening to his concerns and offering a solution that worked for both of them.
Think about the pressures other people in your workplace face. Offer concrete support. When in doubt, pray specifically for the people you work with.
2) Make a difference by bringing self-discipline to your workplace
Many people go to work feeling emotionally unsteady. Your boss might be sick with anxiety over your company’s success. Or your coworkers might hopelessly fear that nobody’s taking care of them. You can make a difference in these people’s lives by showing them that God is in charge, and that they can trust God in workplace crises.
Spiritual self-disciplines demonstrate that you trust God and that God is trustworthy.
Daniel kept a disciplined diet that reminded him and his coworkers of God’s power. When people around Daniel ate the king’s rich food, Daniel abstained. This simple daily action showed that Daniel trusted God (not a diet) to give him power. It worked for Daniel and his friends:
To these four young men God gave knowledge and skill in every aspect of literature and wisdom. – Daniel 1:17
Food was an important spiritual symbol in Daniel’s day, so his discipline around food was meaningful to him and others. In your workplace, the signs of trusting God might look different. How can you show your faith through simple daily actions? You might avoid using foul language, or refrain from negative criticism, or ask people if you can pray for them when they mention difficulty in their lives. (Most people are not offended if you ask permission to pray for their needs, even if they are not religious, as long as you are respectful.)
Whatever action reminds you of God’s faithfulness, practicing this discipline regularly shows your coworkers that they can trust God too.
3) Make a difference by being ready to stand up for what’s right
If the moment comes when you need to take a stand at work, will you be ready? Making a difference might someday mean risking your career to defend your values. Though it may never come to that, you can prepare yourself today by holding lightly to money, success, and power. These are blessings from God, not replacements for him.
Even though Daniel and his fellow believers stood at the pinnacle of Babylonian society, they were ready to lose everything to keep God’s values.
Then Daniel answered in the presence of the king, “Let your gifts be for yourself, or give your rewards to someone else!" - Daniel 5:17
“If our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire and out of your hand, O king, let him deliver us. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods and we will not worship the golden statue that you have set up.” - Daniel 3:17-18
How can you be ready to take a difficult stand? It’s a lot easier if you can afford to lose your job. If you have a little money saved, don’t have deep debts, live within your means, and don’t have your identity tied up in your job or position, then you can survive being fired for taking a stand.
4) Make a difference by building a network of like-minded people
If you try to change the world all by yourself, you’ll end up burned out. Find other people in your company or industry who share your concerns. Build your support network of people making a difference and meet regularly to give each other help and encouragement.
Daniel had his own support network of faithful friends.
Daniel made a request of the king, and he appointed Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego over the affairs of the province of Babylon. – Daniel 2:49
These four friends believed in God together, which made them especially useful as work colleagues. It’s likely they met often to discuss problems they had at work and to pray for each other. Because of their intentional closeness, they were able to support each other in their day-to-day work as well as in the most trying moments of their lives.
Identify like-minded people in your company or in your area, and start meeting regularly for mutual prayer and support. You can also find other faithful people in your industry by joining a faith-based professional association.
5) Make a difference by bringing God into your work
You can make a difference in your workplace by bringing God to work with you. The Bible has many suggestions on how to integrate faith and work, but they all start in the same place: your relationship with God. Regular times of prayer and communion prepare you to carry God’s presence wherever you go.
Daniel prayed three times daily throughout his career, and with special commitment during difficult times in his work.
Although Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he continued to go to his house, which had windows in its upper room open toward Jerusalem, and to get down on his knees three times a day to pray to his God and praise him, just as he had done previously. - Daniel 6:10
All the ways that Daniel made a difference through his work were founded on his closeness to God.
Your relationship with God is something you can work on today. Pray to God, praise him, and take that attitude to work with you. You don’t need to make a major life change, look for a new job, or leave secular society to make a difference in the world. Connect with God through these simple actions, and you can make a difference right where you are.
For more see the Theology of Work Project Bible Commentary on the Book of Daniel.