As Christians in the workforce, we're all searching to find the right balance between speaking and showing our faith to our coworkers. Living out your faith in the workplace doesn't have to mean 24/7 proselytizing in the break room, but you shouldn't exactly be blending into the crowd either. There should be "something different" about the way you conduct yourself, how you respond to your clients and coworkers, and even the moral standards you keep.
Your coworkers are paying attention, whether you're aware of it or not. They will notice what types of decisions you make, they will come to form their own opinions about you, and, over time, they'll decide if you are reliable and if they can look to you for leadership. Your actions and words at work may also help your coworkers decide what it looks like to be a Christian.
It's not about the big decisions so much as it is the small consistent decisions that will make or break your reputation. Character and perception are built and earned over a series of encounters. Making an honorable choice weekly, daily, and even hourly will help your coworkers notice that "something different" about you.
Just because the business culture around you deems something to be acceptable doesn't make it the right thing to do. That sort of statement seems obvious when you're away from the pressure of the moment, but when the heat is on and you're forced to make a snap decision, doing the "right thing" or the "better thing" that goes against the corporate culture won't always be your first instinct. So it's important that you think through those decisions, especially the high-pressure ones.
The personal decisions you make at work become some of the most important statements about the kind of person (and Christian) you are. For example, when I was working for Trammell Crow Company in Dallas I was responsible for hiring someone to lead a large portion of our business. One candidate I interviewed was a hard worker with a great attitude. He also had a wealth of knowledge and a great network in the business, so I hired him and he moved his family to Dallas to take the job. But once he started with us, we realized that some of his other skills were simply wrong for the position. Within a few short months, my boss told me to fire him. I felt terrible, and more than a little responsible. Although it would have been perfectly acceptable business practice to fire this employee on the spot, I felt it was personally wrong of me to fire him without trying to find him a better fitted position within the company. So even though I didn't know him well, I went out on a limb and convinced our CEO to let me move him to another line of business. That was more than ten years ago. Today, that same employee is still with the company and he has become a key leader in that new business line. Even though talking to my CEO about not firing my new hire wasn't the easy or most comfortable thing to do at the time, it turned out to be the right decision—not just for me, but for my company as well.
Diane Paddison is a business professional and founder of 4wordwomen.org, local groups of professional working women committed to faith, family, work, and each other.