Being a follower of Jesus Christ is what defines us as Christians. Not our families, not our careers, but our Savior. That is what we profess and confess, but at times it is difficult to negotiate how to be a Christian in a workplace that simply is not.
Most of us do not have the opportunity to work for employers or institutions that are Christian, and I think that is exactly the way Jesus would want it. To live as a follower of Jesus Christ is not to live in an insulated Christian community; it is to go out and be in the midst of society pointing to Jesus in everything that we do and say. As Americans, we spend a majority of our time at work, and so it is increasingly important that we point to Christ in our workplaces as well as our homes. Instead of limiting our theological practice to our homes and Churches, we need to bring Christian piety into our workplace.
Here are a few ways to live a life of Christian piety in the workplace:
1. Consider your job as your calling.
Whether you are a fry cook, an accountant, a marketing director, a school teacher, or a stay at home parent, what you are doing in your vocation should be able to be used to the glory of God. Having this mindset changes our outlook on how we go about our work.
2. Spend a few moments in prayer at work each day.
Ideally, it would be first thing in the morning, but at times we are so bombarded before we even get to our desks that it feels impossible. Set aside a few moments to pray for your co-workers, the institution, etc. Even if it is as you are working, consciously praying for others will change your outlook on your work and those you work with and for.
3. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and strength and love your neighbors as yourself (Mt 22:37).
Today, we know our co-workers a whole lot better than we know the people who live next door to us. We spend hours and hours each day with people that we do not choose, but they are our neighbors. Loving our co-workers and employers, treating them with care and respect speaks volumes of the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord.
4. Remember that our hope is in Jesus Christ, not in the institutions or work of this world.
It is difficult, especially at work, to treat others with love and respect and receive none in return. It can be draining and frustrating. Take those few moments in the car, on the bus, or train each day to remind yourself that in Christ there is hope. Our worldly work will always be toil. Our hope is in Jesus Christ.
Christian piety in the work place is difficult. It is difficult to act with the love and care of Jesus Christ to people who drive us crazy! But that is exactly what Christ calls us to do, each and every day. To understand our work, not just as a means to make a living, but as a way to proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord!
The Rev. Erin Davenport is a 2005 alumna of the MDiv program. Through the Seminary’s joint degree program, she also earned her MSW from the University of Pittsburgh. A former chaplain, she now resides in Pittsburgh and serves as the Seminary’s director of the Miller Summer Youth Institute.