Ask Salt&Light: How do I share my beliefs with colleagues of other faiths?
Ask Salt&Light gives our readers the opportunity to ask Christian ministry staff and marketplace leaders questions about the practicalities of living out the Christian faith in the workplace.
Dr Lai Pak Wah // June 1, 2018, 1:02 am
Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash.
I work in an office with many wonderful colleagues whom I count as friends. However, many of them are not believers and some are from other religious groups. How do I reach out to them?
Lynette T, 29, broadcast producer
Two decades ago, I was undergoing my student exchange programme in Boston when I met Yoshi (not his real name). Yoshi, a Japanese executive, was completing an internship at his parent company. As we visited the tourist sites together, our conversation soon turned to questions of faith and I managed to share the Gospel with him. Much to my surprise, Yoshi decided to become a Christian there and then, so I prayed the sinner’s prayer with him.
As I reflected on what happened, I realised that I played only a minor role in Yoshi’s conversion. I was merely the harvester of fruit that had been planted and cultivated long ago by Christians elsewhere, namely Yoshi’s English teachers in Japan.
This experience underscored an important principle: Most people do not come to faith simply by listening to the Gospel once.
Rather, they come into contact with Christianity through Christian relatives, friends, or colleagues whom they know. Many of their opinions about the Christian faith are formed by their observations of how these Christians behave or misbehave.
Depending on our behaviour, they decide whether it is worthwhile to even hear us talk about our faith, let alone come to believe in our God. While some will come to Christ in just a few weeks, others may take years.
What is most important, I believe, is that we, as Christians, faithfully live out the love of Christ and allow the Holy Spirit to do His work.
So, what does this mean for evangelism in the workplace?
It means we must treat the fact that all of us are God’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) to everyone around us – neighbours or colleagues – seriously.
What we do and how we behave matters not only to God but also to those around us to whom our lives are living testimonies.
We must not take for granted the significant role our behaviour plays in determining whether others will be interested in Christ. We are, to put it plainly, the first Gospel they encounter – the Gospel in the flesh.
Walk the talk
What does this mean practically?
Firstly, it means that we should take our work seriously and strive to do well in the duties and responsibilities we are paid to do. We should embrace our work as our God-given vocation.
It is difficult for anyone to gain a colleague’s ear if they themselves have not been putting their heart into their work.
Or worse, if they have been creating more work because of their irresponsibility, making things difficult for others.
Secondly, how we work – our work ethics – matters.
Do we lie or backstab others at work? Do we criticise others behind their back? Do we hold grudges, or neglect to respect the ideas of others? Do we always insist that we are right? Do we fail to show empathy, love or generosity to our colleagues?
To be sure, all of us will fail in one or more of these items once in a while. Yet, if we consistently misbehave in these ways, we send a powerful message to our colleagues that Jesus behaves likewise.
Understandably, our colleagues will not be attracted to such a God.
On the other hand, if we show love, kindness and understanding to our colleagues; if we are humble in our words and actions; if we are attentive to our colleagues’ ideas or we make an effort to nurture or train them; if we sacrifice on their behalf, they will recognise the difference.
By seeing the Gospel played out in our lives, it is more likely that they will desire to know more about Jesus when the opportunity surfaces.
Where are the opportunities?
What will the chances to share look like?
Perhaps over lunch, a colleague will ask to find out more about your faith, and you can share about your life with him or her.
But more likely, it will happen in the day-to-day conversations.
For instance, while taking the train home, your colleague shares that his wife is gravely ill. You offer to pray for him and he agrees, because he trusts you.
In other cases, if your church is holding an Alpha course or an evangelism event, you can invite your colleague. He or she may not be interested in Christianity, but they may still accept the invitation simply because they see you as a friend whom they respect. Therefore, we must be prayerful and attentive to discern these opportunities when they arise. God provides them, often in unexpected ways.
To prepare our hearts for opportunities like this, we can prayerfully reflect on our own story: How did we come to faith? Why does Jesus matter to us (1 Peter 3:15)?
While we wait in hope for God to provide the moments to share about Christ, we can prepare the ground by first behaving well. For it is only when we live out our faith that we display God’s overflowing love to our colleagues and enable them to taste the sweetness of the Gospel that we so love.
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