When I first wrote this post, I had returned to the “traditional” workforce – well not really – I was going to work less than twenty hours a week. But, it was still “work nonetheless. While I was yet consulting on my own, I missed being part of a team. You know, the talking, exchanging of ideas… being a part of something special. Don’t get me wrong, I loved being a “mommy”, but I also missed sharing my faith at work or being engaged in marketplace ministry.
Beyond excited to do marketplace ministry!
Some people think I had lost my mind for wanting to go back to “work” while my kids was so little.
Little did they know, I had a plan. Aside from the interaction with other people, it was a strategic move for me. Of course, the money was helpful, but I really looked forward to being around people so I could be an encouragement and a Christian witness. Girl, I was tired of witnessing to hanging plants in my living room. I wanted to get out there…at least some times, anyway.
As a consultant, I was often paid hundreds of dollars an hour to talk about team-building dynamics, but I hadn’t really been part of a team in several years. Wild, right?
It’s like the difference between being high up in an airplane and looking down at a neighborhood. Sure, you can say you “saw” the neighborhood, but you really didn’t.
When you’re soaring above and around the neighborhood, the intricate “pieces” that compose the community are lost in the distance. You can only see shapes and colors – but no real detail.
Just like being a Christian witness, yet at home all the time. At least for me, I had no outlet. I was new to my neighborhood and didn’t really know anyone so I was pretty isolated.
There I was a teambuilding trainer who saw only a 3-year-old and a Christian witness who saw only a 3-year-old. I was living a life of incongruence for sure.
In order to minister, you need people to minister to!
To end the incongruence, God opened a door – a very fascinating door at that! I was able to work in a mid-sized nonprofit organization.
I could never have imagined how much my perspective would change as a team-mate and not just a team-consultant.
Oh yeah! Things looked different from the inside and not just peering from a high altitude. All that being said, working outside my home tested my resolve in so many ways. People worked my nerves, frustrated me, and made me want to run back home several times.
It had it’s good points too. I was able to be a blessing and encourage folks or at least I tried to anyway.
It’s so cool being in the “world” of work!
When you’re up close and personal, you see all the “pieces” that comprise the entire work team. Remember my reference about the airplane?
You gain trust and develop a role on the team because you’re part of it. You craft a team identity if you will. You’re either the “smart” one, the “mean” one, the “inquisitive” one, or the “kind” one. Certainly, you can be many things at once, but I’m making a point. Bear with me, Christian Woman.
Anyhow, from a Christian woman’s perspective, it’s actually a beautiful thing to be part of a group.
The key part of being a Christian witness at work is sharing your faith. Don’t be a “closet Christian.”
Remember, back in the day, actor Charlton Heston played Biblical figures in movies time and time again, right?
However, he would never disclose whether or not he was a Christian. Weird, right?
I tend to think he was not. Because if you truly encounter Jesus Christ, you can’t help but say you’re a Christian!
Maybe he was a closet Christian. Those are useless in my opinion.
Don’t be a scared Christian. We’ll talk about the key component to being a Christian witness at work later. For now, just remember you have to disclose your faith – only in the right context. Later for that.
For now, before I even talk about the marketplace ministry stuff, let me tell you about the spiritual “gets” I’m receiving from being part of a team again.
God uses people as spiritual sandpaper, Christian Lady!
I’ve noticed God is using this season to humble me and work out some of the “rough” edges I thought I had already smoothed.
I personally think God intentionally uses colleagues to teach us valuable lessons about ourselves. Don’t you think?
From our interactions with them, we can discover whether or not we are egotistical, short-tempered, impatient, or even mean. Christians in the marketplace mature and grow from being inside the “place” of it all.
Marketplace Ministry…what an opportunity to reach souls for Jesus!
Each new day at work provides a fresh opportunity for me to be a blessing to someone somehow!
It’s a chance to share a kind word or perform an act of servanthood.
Marketplace ministry looks like Christian love in action, because you can:
– Strategically build relationships with people in order to pray for them and encourage them.
– Model the Christian walk in a way that is loving and authentic versus the mean, judgemental Christians they’ve seen in their lives.
– Demonstrate what grace looks likes when you forgive someone who has hurt you or refuse to demean someone who is hateful.
– Step away from the dirty, racists or hateful, course jokes.
– Refuse to steal office supplies (I had to include that one).
– You can offer a compliment or be nice to someone that is…well…mean.
– Hang scriptures in your office.
Each of these small things (and more) make marketplace ministry come alive and make a mark for Jesus.
They are invasive ways to share the Gospel without saying a direct word about it. Perfect, right?
Marketplace ministry and evangelism!
Then there is my favorite part. I love to share Christ through my humor, words, conversation, and lifestyle.
I love what The Gospel Coalition said in the article ” How to Share Your Faith at Work” by Greg Gilbert and Sebastian Traeger. They advise us to “build a reputation as a person who works with purpose, creativity, kindness, and encouragement.” Oh, man! Who wouldn’t want to get to know this sort of co-worker?
How I do marketplace evangelism...
I’m no expert or anything, but I have won some folks to my side through the years.
Here is what I think: first, you can get to know people at work and just listen to them. Pay attention.
Listen intently to what bothers them. Keep their secrets.
In fact, don’t talk about anyone else ever. Assume everything said to you is said in confidence.
Don’t talk like a crazy woman either!
Oh yeah, laugh with them and just be pleasant to be around.
Doing so without all the “Christian-ese”. You know, the jargon that often separates us in the wrong way.
Example: “I’m blessed and highly favored” Of course you are, but sinners don’t know what the Sam Hill you’re talking about!
For real, avoid Christian-ese words like saved, blood-bought, washed in the blood, etc. You will have people thinking you’re a vampire or something! These words are “sinner-repellents!”
You start talking “crazy” and they will run from you before your coffee hits the table at lunchtime. Do you drink coffee at lunch? I’m more of a Coke girl myself.
Ok. I digress. 🙂 You get the point: people will avoid you like the plague when you talk a different “language” around them.
Be a real person …who happens to be a Christian.
Show your humanity. If you have a struggle, it’s ok to discuss it as the Holy Spirit leads you.
Along the same lines, it’s ok to mess up and then say “Man, I am not perfect yet! Good thing God is patient with us!”
You know what else is helpful? Be up to date on what popular culture likes or is talking about so you can engage in a conversation without sounding like an alien from another planet.
I’m not saying be worldly or compromise your standards, but know what’s going on out there!
One thing I love about Jesus is He was approachable. People followed Him everywhere and I don’t think it was just for the miracles. I think He was cool like ‘dat’! Don’t you?
Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard – with all eyes on you at work!
At times, I miss the mark. I mess up BIG TIME! Even then, I try to turn the blunder to God’s glory through humility and repentance, if necessary.
Yeah, I’ve had to apologize to people for hurting their feelings, I had to apologize for engaging in bad conversations too…hey, I’ve been there! In those situations, the worse thing you can do is act as though your blunder didn’t happen.
When you do, it reinforces the enemy’s narrative that “all Christians are fake” or “They are no different than we are.”
The fact is, we are no different. However, when we turn back to clean up our “mess”, we become different really.
We become someone with integrity. We show Jesus in His best light. Agree?
For this reason, if you mess up, go ahead and say something like:
“I owe you guys an apology. yesterday, I was acting so silly and having so much fun, I said ________ and that is not who I am. As a Christian, it’s not who I want to be. I asked God to forgive me, so will you forgive me too for polluting your ears?”
It works! Being authentic is better than any fake facade you can concoct, Girl! It also helps you build relationships. Real ones.
You need relationships with colleagues to win them to the Lord!
Relationships is what it is all about in the end! That is what gives you access into their lives.
The key is to build a solid relationship with your “target” (yes, I’ve been watching spy movies). Build a relationship so when you witness or share Jesus, it will more likely fall on good ground and not stony ground.
Warning: bear in mind they may not be yours to win…
Sometimes your role in the lives of your coworkers is to simply lay the foundation.
Maybe your life of integrity, your kindness, and your loving demeanor are just what God needs to bring them to the knowledge of who He is.
“You are not like other Christians I’ve been around,” said a co-worker who lives an alternative lifestyle. She went on to share how her family had ostracized her and deemed her hell-bound – all in the name of Christianity.
“Stoopid” Christians mess things up!
May I first say, what the heck were they thinking? Few people are scared straight in this life!
It’s the power of the Holy Spirit to bring change and He often uses Christians to facilitate that!
Anyway, when she said that, it broke my heart. It also made me realize God is the One who brings the change in lives, not us forcing people to do this or that.
We don’t have to tell people how messed up they are. They know.
Truly, God doesn’t really need us to condemn people or to be judgmental jerks in His name. He doesn’t.
He just needs us to walk in love and live our Christian life sincerely.
It may mean holding the door for someone as they enter a building. Passing them the coffee pot after you’ve poured your own or bringing them a donut when you grab one of yourself.
Trust me, the little things make a huge impact.
A perfect marketplace ministry example…
A while after that coworker and I were “friendly”, she said something like “you think I’m going to hell, don’t you?”
I was floored and the weird question came out of absolutely nowhere!
I said “that’s not for me to say, but I know you’re living outside God’s will and He doesn’t take that lightly. He has an expectation and He has rules.”
“Hmmm..” she said and I don’t remember what happened next. I can tell you it didn’t end our relationship or interaction. We are still acquaintances to this very day.
Personally, I believe God deals with her. In faith, I also believe she will be saved.
Fast forward back to now.
We have to be salt and light in the real world.
It’s super easy when we don’t have to deal with people.
The real test, in my opinion, is when we leave our homes and do life with others.
Marketplace ministry is a valuable opportunity for us to let His light shine and it’s a chance to grow spiritually too.