Being A Witness In A Hostile Workplace

I have a Christian friend who works in human resources for a large financial services institution. She recently shared with me that, for the sake of diversity and inclusion, employees are now strictly prohibited from discussing matters of religion in the office. “If I’m not allowed to speak about Jesus Christ or share the gospel with my coworkers,” she asked, “then how am I to be a Christian in such a place at all?” Perhaps you too have faced similar challenges. What would you say in reply to my friend?

Before answering too quickly, we must remember several biblical principles. First, the Bible does not explicitly tell us what to do in every single circumstance. The moral law reveals a general framework of the obedience that God requires. But each Christian needs to apply God’s Word to his own individual situation discerningly and prayerfully. The way of wisdom typically isn’t black and white but rather is a matter of navigating the gray. If we’re going to find ways of being faithful witnesses for Christ in this strange new world, then we’re going to need to “be wise as serpents and innocent as doves,” as the Lord Jesus taught us (Matt. 10:16).

Second, work itself glorifies God. This principle is enshrined in creation. God’s pattern of work during the first six days was intended to teach us creatures how to work for His glory. “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it” (Gen. 2:15). As Adam woke up each morning and went out to cultivate the earth, protecting that pristine temple, he was doing exactly what God wanted him to do. Likewise, the primary way that we glorify God at work is by using the talents and abilities that He has given to us in order to fulfill the work He has placed in our hands (1 Cor. 10:31).

Third, we shouldn’t discount the evangelistic power of Christian character. If I want my coworkers to come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, then what in my life will demonstrate to them that He is my Lord and Savior? Apart from explicit witness, does my overall way of speaking and interacting with others reveal a heart that has been made new by Jesus Christ (Matt. 12:34; Luke 6:45)? Do I exemplify a core humility (Ps. 34:2; 1 Peter 5:5)? Do I exhibit self-control, especially with regard to my professional strengths, keeping myself from overwork by protecting time for family, church, and neighbors (Phil. 2:15; 2 Tim. 1:7)? Do my colleagues sense that I genuinely care for them and their well-being (Titus 2:14; 1 John 3:16)? All these behavioral patterns silently bear “loud” witness to others about what matters the most in our lives.

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Thomas Knox Myrick | “Being a Witness in a Hostile Workplace” | December 2023


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3 comments

  1. I’ve heard numerous Reformed pastors criticize the sentiment behind the quote attributed to St. Francis – “Preach the gospel; if necessary, use words” – along the lines that words are essential to the gospel.

    While the article doesn’t explicitly state as much, it seems to implicitly endorse compromising our witness on the premise that words aren’t essential to it. It also implies that it’s worth accepting such compromises for the sake of keeping one’s job.

  2. “For the sake of diversity and inclusion, employees are now strictly prohibited from discussing matters of religion in the office” reminds me of an old quote by G.K. Chesterton: “Religious liberty might be supposed to mean that everybody is free to discuss religion. In practice it means that hardly anybody is allowed to mention it.”

    In such a case the proper response would be to criticize the policy freely and refuse to comply with it, since this company’s policy is in clear violation of employment law’s prohibition of discrimination on the basis of religion (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964), and since our faith requires us to confess Christ before men, a requirement that is abrogated by such an HR policy.

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