My post, “The Cross Isn’t Sexy: A Dying Man’s Confession” continues to be one of the leading posts though it is no longer on the front page, and one of the topics brought up was whether it is ethical to be witnessing to others while being paid to work. Now, I realize that this is usually the argument made by atheists and unbelievers, but even in recent weeks, I have read it online by professing Christians. So I want to raise the question here for our discussion.
Generally speaking, one will argue that an exemplary employee who has a good kingdom ethic will devote himself entirely to the task and responsibilities determined by their employer. On the other hand, one will argue that someone who is faithful to sharing the kingdom message will distract himself from his responsibility and could become a lazy, incompetent worker. After all, the company pays you to work, not witness, so if you can do only one, it should be the former, not the latter. Simply put, either you are a good, reliable worker who does not share Jesus, or you a reliable witness who does not work.
I am of the conviction that this argument presents a false dichotomy. There is no reason why you cannot have a good kingdom ethic and also share the kingdom message (gospel of Jesus Christ) in your workplace. There will, of course, be times where the only thing for you to do is work with all your might (as demanded by the workload); however, there will also be times where, in the course of conversation, several opportunities to share Jesus are presented to you as an ambassador of Jesus Christ. Knowing when and how is a matter of discernment and sensitivity that comes over time.
So here we are, living between two worlds and trying to balance a kingdom ethic with a kingdom message, desiring to please our employer as well as honor our Lord and Master. What do you do? How do you do it?
In the coming days, I hope to continue to the conversation of what I am calling missional work. As Christians who are “on mission” in our world, the workplace cannot be a place where the gospel is shelved in the break room. At the same time, as Christians we who work “as unto the Lord” are called to work “with all our might” knowing that our reward does not come from recognition of man but from the the God who performs all things well.
For starters, I would like to pose the following questions:
1. Do you believe it is unethical to share your faith while at work?
2. Is it a false dichotomy? Agree or disagree?
3. If you had (operative word) to choose one, which would be more important: being a reliable worker or a faithful witness?
Let me know what you think. In the meantime, check out this video clip from J.I. Packer on work as a ministry to others: