Mission: Love Your Workplace
by Dave Howard, Elder
This week's article was previously published in our November 2018 issue of our former monthly newsletter.
Okay, so the title is a bit of a play on words with our Uganda mission ministry—Mission: Love Uganda. We all understand missions when it comes to Uganda or Mexico. Mission trips involve months of planning, fundraising, serious prayer, studying the culture you will be visiting and spiritual preparation. When we are in the “mission field” we expect that we are there to share the gospel, share the love of God, and tell people about Jesus.
Most of us don’t think of our workplace as a mission field, but it’s where we spend most of our waking hours. Why would we NOT see it as one of our primary opportunities to be witnesses for Jesus? Why don’t we prepare for the workplace mission field in the same we do for other mission trips? What would happen if we did?
Let me share just a couple of my experiences to encourage you to think about your purpose in your workplace differently than you may have in the past.
Matt (not his real name) was a network administrator who worked for me. He was a single father raising a young son and an agnostic who thought of himself as a Buddhist (complete with a large statue of Buddha on his desk). I spent time getting to know Matt on a personal basis. My son and I went with Matt and his son to hockey games, and I prayed for him regularly. I had shared aspects of my faith with him, but one day, while alone in the computer room, I began to tell him about my conversion and I asked if he wanted me to share more with him—he did. For the next hour we talked, uninterrupted (it was unheard of for the computer room to not have any calls or visitors for more than a few minutes). I asked Matt if he understood—he did; I asked him if he was ready to make a decision—he was not. But he knew the gospel and the rest was in God’s capable hands. Matt has stayed in touch with me for the past 20 years, still not having made a decision to accept Christ that I know of and I continue to pray for him.
James (his real name) was a laborer who worked for the petroleum product distributor I worked for in Alabama. James was a black man who had lived through a lot of prejudice in the Deep South but was one of the sweetest men you could meet. I loved listening to James talk about his life and family. James was diagnosed with diabetes and struggled for the next year with the disease. One day I met James walking across the parking lot on crutches. I went over to him and asked what was going on. He told me that gangrene had set in both of his feet, and he was going to have both feet amputated. After a short talk, I asked him if I could pray for him. He said that would be good and started to walk away (as if I was going to go home and pray for him). I told him “no, I mean right now,” and we stopped there in the middle of the parking lot and prayed together. God is so good! When we finished praying, James had tears streaming down his face and we hugged right there. That was the last time I saw James alive—he lost his battle with diabetes. I didn’t realize at the time just how many people stood around and watched that prayer in the parking lot . . . but that’s another story.
I could fill pages with stories just like this. God has blessed me so greatly with the opportunity to share life, the gospel, and be His witness in the mission field of my work over the years. I also realize that I am employed for a purpose and how I perform my work, how I lead people and the integrity I display is a reflection of Jesus that people see and watch closely on a daily basis. Jesus was a carpenter, Paul a tentmaker, Peter a fisherman—but their work didn’t define their witness; their love for people and obedience to God did.
1. Pray for your co-workers, managers, customers, vendors and anybody else related to your work.
2. Watch for God working in people’s lives and join Him in that work.
3. Be as Christlike as you can be in all of your workplace activities.
4. Go on a mission to your workplace for God and change the world.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16 NKJV).