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Christianity used to be the dominant religion in the Western World. Now, it seems that there are fewer and fewer places where Christians can openly practice their faith without facing condemnation. Among the areas where Christianity has become unwelcome is the workplace. A number of Christians who were hard working, productive employees with a good attitude have been shown the door simply because they politely refused to compromise their faith. This is not simply an alarmist view either. Christians in a variety of jobs are wary of openly expressing their faith, and they are going to their pastors and ministers for advice.
“I worked in ministry for 30 years,” said David Goetsch, head of David Goetsch Biblical Ministry. “I used to hear about temptations. More recently, people come to me with problems of anti-Christian bias, political correctness and persecution.”
The fact that Goetsch was hearing about such issues from so many people convinced him that the sense of a widespread cultural problem was truth, not alarmist propaganda or the product of a few vocal people with a chip on their shoulders. “If I see this many in my small ministry,” Goetsch said, “each person much mean there are 1,000 more [suffering from this sort of persecution.]”
A widespread problem needed a more widespread solution. As such, Goetsch wrote “Christians on the Job: Winning at Work Without Compromising Your Faith” to help give the Christians his ministry could not personally reach some simple, sound advice on how to deal with employers, coworkers and clients who were hostile to the Christian faith.
The key is to be both “wise and innocent.” One way to do this is to show how a person upholding their Christian beliefs actually benefits their employer. In “Christians on the Job,” Goetsch describes a man who managed to change his company for the better by doing just that. “When big clients were in town, they wanted John to show them the nightlife,” Goetsch explained. John, however, was unwilling to compromise his Christian faith and engage in such activities. When the CEO called him in to discuss the issue, John “was both wise and innocent. He didn’t get ugly,” Goetsch said. “Instead, he told his boss, ‘I understand why you want me to take them out, but it would compromise my faith.’ But he didn’t stop there.” John explained that he used the “front-page test” to gauge whether or not he should participate in specific activities after work. Essentially, he based his actions on whether or not he would be proud if his night was detailed, with pictures, on the front page of the newspaper the next day.
A few days later, the CEO called John back into his office and “handed him a document…the document was a new corporate policy…[that] required all employees to apply the front-page test to their behavior when representing the firm in any capacity, during work and after hours.” By putting his concerns in terms that his boss could understand and relate to, John was able to simultaneously defend his faith, improve his workplace and prove his value as an employee to his boss.
As a Christian, proving one’s value to one’s employer is one of the best ways to avoid landing in the crosshairs of a boss who loathes Christianity. “Even the most anti-Christian boss in the world will respect someone with a Christian work ethic, even if they don’t call it that. [They’ll] call it a positive work ethic,” Goetsch said. “[Be] dependable, a problem solver, a good team player, and they’ll appreciate you whether they appreciate your faith or not… They’ll keep off your back on religious matters since they need you business wise. Christians, remember, producers in the workplace are rarely hassled by the boss.”
Sometimes, however, being a good employee is not enough to keep a stubbornly anti-Christian supervisor from trying to pick a fight or drive you to quit. “In my office I keep file after file of articles about executives who did unethical things and pressured others to do unethical things,” said Goetsch. “[One boss told an employee] he couldn’t drive his car to work anymore because it had a pro-life license plate.” The employee was forced to get the law involved. “He called ADF, [the Alliance Defending Freedom,] and his boss got in trouble.” The license plate, after all, was state issued.
Given how insane some bosses can be about religious matters, it can be tempting to either fight back at every turn or to quit as soon as an employer starts to turn up the heat. Both of these are, according to Goetsch, the wrong response. “Learn to witness without words, go in everyday and show coworkers Christ by how you act,” Goetsch said. “Make quitting a last resort. If it’s that bad, they need Christ and your example more than ever.”
That does not, however, mean that Christians should continue in a job that has become unhealthy for them “When it gets so stressful that it starts effecting your family life, faith life and health, you need to quit,” Goetsch said. As a form of practicing wisdom, Christians should be ready for that eventuality at all times. “The day you start a job, keep your resume up to date,” Goetsch advised. “Keep track of anything that can help you, people you talked to… You have to be ready any day of any week to send out that resume.”
People at any point in their career can practice Goetsch’s advice, but he recognized that it can be more difficult to push back against unethical employers for those who are young and just getting started in their careers. They have neither the experience to deal easily with the underhanded tactics of their employers nor a track record of workplace success that can sometimes speak for itself. “You might find yourself in a position where you have to go out [to functions that are not consistent with Christianity,]” Goetsch warned. “[Pick your battles,] and witness without words. In any setting, you can be who you are and stick to your beliefs. If you are at a cocktail party, have soda water or orange juice instead of alcohol. Anytime you are in a situation like that, you can be a witness by example until you get experience and wisdom.”
Witnessing by example and standing strong in one’s beliefs is essential today. When the trials are fiercest is when it is the most important to hold fast. “Culture is shaped every day,” Goestch concluded. “If we don’t reclaim it as Christians for Christ right now, who will?”
Christians have fought the good fight before and won. There is no reason to make this round any different. Remember, “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” So, stand, and be afraid no longer.