Loving and serving the Lord in the workplace
Audrey Sharp discusses the challenge of living out our Christian faith actively and intentionally in the workplace.
I stumbled across a quotation the other day from the Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho: “The world is changed by your example, not your opinion”
That is not entirely true but it reminded me of Matthew 6:1, in which we are encouraged not to wear our religion on our sleeves. And the verse in chapter seven, ‘by their fruits you shall know them’. Both these imply the strength of personal example over showy words and public piety. It struck me that this is the approach most Christians take in living out their faith, day to day, in the workplace.
The British Social Attitudes survey, published recently and well covered in the media, shows for the first time that those who declare no affiliation to any formal religion are now the majority of the population – 53 per cent. No longer is it normal to declare ‘C of E’ as a default position when asked. This may mean that the 47 per cent, representing many faiths, are more likely to be religious by choice, not inheritance.
Few Christians feel it is necessary or even desirable to talk openly in the workplace about their faith, regarding it as a private matter. While the Equality Act acknowledges religion as an important aspect of diversity, it is often the one employers are least sure about. Race, sexuality and disability issues seem to have much more currency. Religion is less discussed and understood. This can cause discomfort for all people of faith, not only Christians.
Increasingly Christians may feel they are facing a dilemma. Do we keep quiet in case our colleagues are hostile or mocking? Occasionally a colleague may have their own difficult history, the result of a strict religious upbringing. There may be dilemmas of conscience which some find hard to reconcile with their faith. We remember the bakery in Northern Ireland and the B&B owners who faced challenges to their conscience in offering their services to the public.
The wide variety of attitudes held within the church on many social and moral issues can hinder understanding by those outside and some Christians may be stereotyped, making it hard for them to be open about their faith. Religion, sex and politics are not good subjects for water cooler conversation.
To be restricted in this way is a pity. It denies the very thing that informs and enriches our lives, that sustains us every day and makes us the people we are.
But that is to paint a gloomy picture. Most people don’t want to be preachy or make others uncomfortable. They prefer, through friendship and example, to let God’s light shine through their professionalism, compassion, integrity and decency. By their fruits you shall know them.
Most organisations, and I found this to be true in the public sector, contain many Christians living out their faith actively and intentionally, quietly but not secretly. Personally, I think this is the most powerful example of all: that we, shaped and sustained by our faith, are valued for our work performance, our integrity and humanity. We need to live up to this ideal.
At the end of the church service we are told to ‘go forth to love and serve the Lord’. And that includes in the workplace.
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Loitering with Godly intent
Archdeacon Karen explores chaplaincy in the workplace.More
Face to Faith – Stephen Andrews
Stephen is a workplace chaplain in Great Yarmouth to Asda, NORSE, Camplings Linen Services and the Borough Services. He is also a Trust Chaplain at the James Paget University Hospital and is an associate priest in the Great Yarmouth Team Ministry.More
God in children’s work at school
Just like many adults, young people spend a large proportion of their day 'at work'; school, A place where, similarly to adults, they attend for set hours, meet and interact with peers, complete tasks, learn skill sets, are encouraged to develop and undergo regular review. We asked four people from across the Diocese to share what they do as Christians in supporting young people in schools.More
Making Christ present – Being chaplain to the police
Fr Christopher Wood talks about his roles as Chaplain to Norfolk Constabulary and to people bereaved by suicide.More
Spiritual health in times of illness
Helen Garrard is Lead Chaplain to Colman and Norwich Community Hospitals. The role has grown to incorporate providing and managing chaplaincy care in 10 community hospitals within the Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust.More
A night out with Norwich Street Partnership: City Pastors
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A very modern ministry: chaplaincy
At a time when our society seems increasingly dominated by secular habits and assumptions, and when religious attendance and affiliation seems to be in decline, chaplaincy remains a public face of faith in a variety of situations. Chris Copsey takes a look at this diverse ministry in Norfolk and Waveney.More