Five Appropriate Times to Share Your Faith at Work
Jim wanted to run the other way when a friend urged him to go on a short-term mission trip to Cuba. Faith was a private part of Jim’s life, so talking to people about Jesus in a foreign country—or anywhere, for that matter—was not appealing in the least. His friend, however, was persistent, and Jim reluctantly agreed to go.
When they arrived in Cuba, the mission group attended a training session about sharing the gospel. Then they divided up into teams of two and walked from house to house with an interpreter. Fascinated by the opportunity to meet Americans, the locals packed out small living quarters and listened to what they had to say.
The spiritual vacuum and difficult economic conditions under communism had created a gnawing spiritual hunger in Cuban hearts, so when team members took turns sharing their testimony and the gospel, many people trusted Christ on the spot. Jim was astonished and thrilled to be used by God in a way in which he never even dreamed.
At the end of the trip, the mission leader reminded the group that people back home were hungry for the gospel too. He challenged them to speak boldly about their faith like they had done the past week—and to expect God to do great things.
Jim returned to work with a new sense of mission. When coworkers asked about his trip, Jim interpreted each inquiry as an open door to share his testimony and the gospel message like he had learned to do on the trip. The response, however, was not what he had experienced in Cuba. Some of his coworkers listened politely, while others began avoiding him. One even asked, “If faith is the most important thing in your life, why are we just now hearing about it?”
By the end of the week, Jim felt embarrassed and discouraged. He decided to never speak of his faith again.
Like many Christians, Jim did not understand that essential to effective evangelism is cultivation. In Matthew 13, Jesus explained how weeds, rocks, and hard-packed heart soil thwart penetration of the gospel. Sometimes God uses difficult circumstances, as He did in Cuba, to cultivate and prepare hearts to receive seeds of truth. He also uses Christians like you and me to cultivate hearts as we reflect Christ’s character, demonstrate His love day after day at work, and trust in God’s timing to draw people to Himself.
Peter offers sage advice about when and how to talk about our faith.
“…In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…” (1 Peter 3:15).
While we should always be ready and willing to speak up about our faith, note that Peter includes a condition: We are to be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks. Ambushing people with the gospel when their hearts are not ready is not productive, nor is it gentle and respectful.
In addition to being sensitive to the Spirit’s promptings, consider the following guidelines:
When is it appropriate to talk about your faith?
1. When opportunities arise out of the authentic relationships built around your work. As you discuss work and life with your coworkers, informal mentions of spiritual truth will happen naturally, just as other topics of personal importance pop into your conversation.
2. When it naturally fits in the conversation. Don’t try to divert a discussion to a spiritual topic unrelated to the conversation. But, for example, if you are talking about a business problem, it could be appropriate to briefly mention how your faith guides your decisions.
3. When coworkers are comfortable with the discussion. It’s never appropriate to press a spiritual discussion if listeners become uncomfortable.
4. When you are asked. Questions open doors to address spiritual topics. Don’t feel you have to be some sort of Bible expert. Show your own personal interest in learning about that topic and simply and humbly provide what you’ve discovered on it so far. Encourage curiosity in order to create a safe environment for additional questions in the future.
5. When it doesn’t take time away from what you or your co-workers are paid to do. Find time over a break, lunch or after work for longer discussions.
Solomon was right: There’s a time to be silent and a time to speak. It takes wisdom to know the difference.
How to Share Your Faith at Work
Let’s admit it: It can be awkward to share our faith at work. The fear of damaging relationships and making the workplace that much more difficult (we do, after all, have to deal with these people on a daily basis). The fear of repercussions from those we work for. The fear of coming across as, well, just weird. In the stories found in the series, How to Share Your Faith at Work, we find practical ways to naturally share with people the thing that is most precious in our lives – our relationship with Jesus Christ.