Why don’t people witness at work?
In discussion with some friends recently, I posed the above question. Some of the possible reasons were given as follows:
• We are afraid of the reactions we might get, especially if it is based on past experiences of trying to tell people about Jesus and appearing to fail.
• There is no opportunity to raise what we believe.
• We have too much work on our desk - we feel that we are too busy and too pressurised.
• We do not want to be seen as overstepping the mark, either by upsetting our colleagues or by abusing our employer’s time.
• We might feel isolated, needing the support of other Christians in order to share our faith.
• We might feel frightened that what we might say will put our colleagues off Christianity. They might feel that Christianity is ‘irrelevant’ either to our society or, more specifically, to their lives.
• There are the awkward questions that our colleagues might ask, to which we may not know the answers. • We could be uncertain as to what we believe ourselves.
• There is the prospect that we could be ‘rocking the boat,’ especially in the working environment where multiculturalism (however that is defined) is encouraged and where our comments could be misinterpreted (e.g. such as being labelled ‘homophobic’ if you disagree with same-sex relationships). There could be the additional pressure if we are working in a cross-cultural environment, especially if there are different languages being spoken.
• There could be mistrust in the office or it could be devoid of relationships, or the people in the office could be working in different directions.
The possible responses to the above points:
• We are commanded by Jesus to spread His good news (Matthew 28: 16 – 20).
• God will give us the right words at the right time (Exodus 4: 12, Jeremiah 1: 9, Matthew 10: 19). It would be a good idea to practise our words and thought processes before the likely occasions occur. Even the Christians who had the greatest grounding in theology may not know all the answers to every question that arises, so do not be afraid to admit that you do not know the answer so that you can investigate and get back to them.
• We need to demonstrate sensitivity, both in what we say and in how we converse during our employer’s time (Matthew 10: 16).
• God has put you in that situation and with those people for a purpose (Esther 4: 14)
• We are not to be ashamed of God, as He gave His all in sending Jesus to die for us (Luke 9: 26, Romans 1: 16, 2 Timothy 1: 8).
• We need to be involved with our Christian brothers and sisters, getting the encouragement from organisations, such Transform Work UK, and joining Christian Fellowships.
• We could invite our colleagues to events such as Alpha, Christianity Explored or similar that are being held at the workplace or at our churches.
• It would be useful to encourage your church to be involved in your Monday to Friday life – to equip you with the issues that will arise in the office, and to pray for you where God has placed you.
• It could be the case that with age comes confidence. Alternatively, people who are new in the faith are more enthusiastic in sharing what Jesus has done for them.
It is true that many of our colleagues are more willing to hear about the Gospel now, as they feel more stressed in the workplace with the knock-on effect on their family and social lives. There is also the awareness of those issues that arise from our 24 hour news broadcasting and events in their personal lives, which lead to the doubts, worries and questions that our co-workers do not leave at the office threshold, factory gates or school yard.
In the often misquoted words of St Francis - ‘Preach at all times and, if necessary, use words’ – our lives should demonstrate the lordship of Christ in our lives, but we should be also be prepared to answer for the hope that is within us (1 Peter 3: 15).
I would be interested to hear from you as to why you think people are unwilling to share the Gospel in their workplaces and what steps could be taken to encourage us to be open about our faith. Please use the comment box below.
May God bless and strengthen you in your witness at work.
Andrew Drury, 03/03/2013