The “occupational hazards” of workplace evangelism
By Paul H. Boge
You’re at your job and see your co-worker. You know him well enough to strike up a conversation. Maybe you’re even friends. You feel a responsibility to tell him about Jesus. And yet you wonder how this may affect your relationship.
So what do you do?
Do you take the quiet approach, secretly praying for him and waiting for him to ask questions, or do you invite him to your church’s annual Christmas or Easter program?
Or do you take a more direct approach by praying, and then talking to him about his thoughts on spirituality?
How can a man at work share his faith?
There are a variety of approaches to sharing Christ. God has uniquely designed each of us to share His light in a way that is genuine and unforced. As the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth He will give us specific insight and peace regarding timing and
the right way to approach someone.
Sometimes the need is there, but the timing isn’t right.
I was working on a project with a person from a different company. He had an explosive temper. And when I say explosive, I mean red face, fuming, shouting, the whole nine yards. He lost it over something really small. It was hard not to laugh. As he sat there huffing and puffing, his eyes bulging out, I resisted the urge to ask him: Would you like to pray about this?
But another time I was able to share openly with a client. I emailed her an update on the project and asked how she
was doing. She emailed back that she had been going through a rough time as of late.
As we exchanged emails that evening it became apparent that God was bringing her to a place where she was realizing she needed the Saviour. I wondered if I should ask her if she would be interested in making that commitment. I typed the words “Have you ever thought of giving your life to Jesus Christ?” and sat there staring at my computer with my hand ready to click the mouse.
E-mail may not be the conventional way to share Christ, but somehow in this application it seemed like the perfect way. To send or not to send?
If I sent it, she would be challenged to consider Him. But if it was too soon it may seem out of place and I might lose the only opportunity to share Christ.
I hit send.
I should have felt relief. But instead, in that moment I really began to wonder if I had done the right thing. Had I let God down by evangelizing her in this way? Was this the right approach? Was I pushing it too fast?
I waited and left it in God’s hands. If it didn’t work out, I was okay with it. Just because you are obedient to God does not always mean getting the desired results. And then, after 10 minutes of silence, she e-mailed back. She said she had actually been considering giving her life to Christ for awhile already.
She asked a number of questions about Christ. After I answered them as best as I knew how, I typed out a sample prayer she could pray to give her life to Him.
A few minutes later she e-mailed back to tell me she had accepted Him. I picked up the phone and called her, I’m not exactly sure why I hadn’t sooner, and I heard the joy in her voice over finding Jesus.
Then there are times when things don’t go the way you would hope after sharing Christ with someone.
I remember a good friend I made while working out of town on a project. Super guy. We had a lot of common interests that sparked a lot of conversations, often about film in particular. Finding common ground with someone is a natural way to talk about God, like the way the Apostle Paul did when he engaged the Athenians in Acts 17 in a discussion about their altar to an unknown god.
It was a lot of fun to hang out with him. He asked questions about Jesus that I had never heard before, as people who haven’t grown up in a church environment usually have. I learned a lot from him. He asked me a number of times to share the gospel.
“So what happens to me if I do take on Jesus?” he asked.
“You become a child of God.”
He thought about it. A curious expression came over his face.
“Well, do I really need to be a child of God, or can I be like a cousin in the family?”
“He wants you to be His child,” I said.
“Maybe I could be the black sheep in the family. Every family needs one,” he replied. “You know, I could be on the periphery—on the outside but close. Does that still count?”
He knew the gospel so well he could go and evangelize others. Yet he himself did not make that commitment—at least, not yet. He has been on my prayer list ever since.
Other times God will open a door for just a split second when people seem to be testing the waters—allowing us a quick opportunity to share or to say something. Sometimes we try and wait for a better time. But that does not happen. We need to be ready both in season and out of season. These are important moments. It is as if people genuinely open their hearts to see if Christ is real.
I’ve waited at times. And blown it by not saying anything.
Do you ever feel like that when you look back at a conversation? You might say to yourself: “If only I would have said this.” I’ve been there, too. It’s important to give those moments to Christ and trust that our continued prayers will impact people, and to humble ourselves and ask that we be ready for the next opportunity.
Jesus handled every person uniquely. So should we. God has designed each of us in different ways so that we can genuinely share Him. On the one extreme we want to avoid forcing Him on people, on the other extreme we want to avoid being silent.
Jesus gives us challenging and yet comforting advice when it comes to sharing His love in any situation. He says, “So let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify Him.” (Matthew 5:16)
By being diligent workers, and by being credible and consistent witnesses both on and off the jobsite, people will see the genuine faith in our hearts. And through prayer and by listening to the Holy Spirit we can say and do the right things at the right time.
Paul H. Boge is the author of Father to the Fatherless: The Charles Mulli Story. He’s an engineer who works in project management. He lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
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