Faith in the Workplace

  Sarah is in sales. All week long she sells complex, technical specialty software to computer companies. On Sunday she goes to church and drives home wondering how her faith in Christ and her high tech sales job connect. Her company, wrestling with how to do business in a pluralistic society, takes the easy route when it comes to faith: It's taboo on the job. There's no written policy, but everyone knows. This means that the very truth that guides her life as a believer is unwelcome in the place where she spends most of her waking hours. Her church also is of limited help. What she hears about faith and work seems to fit into three categories: The purpose of work is evangelism; the purpose of work is to earn money to support the church and world missions; the purpose of work is to teach us obedience. And while she's certain that all three are true -- and they are -- she's also sure there's more. And thinking Christians know that there's more. Truth applies to all of life. Work -- while tainted by the Fall -- was part of God's plan from the beginning. And so working Christians are turning in increasing numbers to ministries that understand this and that specialize in tackling difficult workplace issues using the Bible. Marketplace Network, a Boston-based ministry, is an example of one such organization. The Network -- whose goal is to motivate and equip Christians to apply their faith to their work -- finds that workers have an immense interest in the idea that the faith they practice on Sunday has an enormous amount to say about the careers they practice the rest of the week. Marketplace Network's job is to address the situations it considers typical of the dilemmas faced by any working Christians. Calling these "moments of truth," the ministry works to help Christians understand how the Bible can help them confront those moments with wisdom, competence, and integrity. The list of moments includes: Balancing work and family, defining success, office politics, sexual temptation, and knowing how much money and how many things are enough. Marketplace Network also helps believers learn to share their faith in the context of a pluralistic work environment in a way that isn't easily dismissed. Marketplace Network President Kent Kusel says that this means that Christians must be taught how to honor God as they deal with difficult bosses or coworkers, lead organizations, and determine policy. Marketplace faith includes doing all things in a way that reflects our love for God, and others, while respecting the differences in a pluralistic work environment. According to Kusel, teaching Christians to just cope with the workplace isn't enough. Ministries must help the church and individual Christians influence the culture of the workplace -- in short, to help us be good "ambassadors for Christ." And that begins with a strong affirmation of the fact that God created work as the means He has given us to take dominion over creation. Call us here at BreakPoint, or visit our website, for more information on Marketplace Network or for more information about a Christian understanding of work. Realizing that simple acts of competence and integrity glorify God is a new idea to Sarah and many workers like her. That awareness carries with it messages of hope in today's workplace.   For more information: Charles W. Colson, "How Now Shall We Work?" October 2001. Visit Marketplace Network's website.


Chuck Colson


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