Workplace Grace

Photo credit: see notes

Photo credit: see notes

A co-worker admitted to a bit of a laissez-faire attitude about work that he attributes to perceived inequities experienced or observed during his work history. Offering a few experiences of my own, I sympathized with his sentiments.

Given that we all spend a considerable amount of our lives at work, experiencing problems there should come as no surprise to any of us.  However, Christ-followers should be ready to offer that while sin weighs on everything to do with life and creation, including workplaces, grace triumphs over sin. (See James 1:14-15 and Romans 6:14, NLT)

Am I taking St. Paul too literally to suggest that we believers “work out” much of our salvation at work?

...continue to WORK OUT your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who WORKS in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Do everything without grumbling or arguing,
— Philippians 2: 12b-14, NIV

Unfortunately, hearing my experiences only reinforced my co-worker’s cynicism.  Not my intention but our duties that day didn’t allow me to dive more into this with him and we haven’t worked together again for a couple weeks.  

Reflecting later on our exchange, I prayed for an opportunity to revisit our discussion.  If that occurred, I would want to say something like….

“As a Christian, my context is based on Jesus Christ and the Bible. While work disappointments are certainly troubling, they should come as no surprise since all people are born with a condition called sin.  Sin inclines most people to be prideful and act in their own best interests in a way that may be detrimental to others.  This is natural and should be expected even with the nicest people.”

If able, I might add that “pride and selfishness are especially prevalent at work. However, Jesus came to cure people of this sin condition even while we were still sinners and enemies of him.  (Romans 5:8, NIV).  As a Christian, I am a new man in Christ, enabled to bless my co-workers and supervisors regardless of how they treat me in return.”

Side note.  I’ve never said anything so succinct to anyone before but, God-willing, I’ll have other opportunities to do so - to be prepared to share the hope that is in me. (See 1 Peter 3:15, NIV).  

While I suspect I’ve suffered more workplace disappointment than most of my mostly-younger co-workers, my inclination to be negatively influenced by those disappointments is tempered by something far stronger, stronger even than sin itself - grace.  

This becoming a new man due to grace has evolved over time and experience.  Truly, God used workplace disappointments to mold me into what I’ve become.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV)

In a former job, a coworker/friend there expressed concern that the efficiencies I was introducing might eventually give the boss reason to no longer need me. In response, I failed to put into words my conviction that the Lord gifted me to bless in certain ways, especially at work.  To hold back God’s gifting would violate who I am, even if the boss used my innovations to justify eliminating my position.

Ultimately he did eliminate my position so it seems my friend’s concerns were warranted. However, he is ultimately answerable to God for his motivations.  (See Proverbs 25: 21-22, NLT)

I pray that the Lord’s molding of me is shaping me to live graciously more and more because I am becoming a new “I am” in the likeness of God who also defines himself that way.

“God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.'" (Exodus 3:14, NIV)

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