I have an acquaintance, "Alice," who has been fired twice for witnessing at work. Well, that's how she explains it. Perhaps a better explanation may be that Alice's approach to evangelism is "in your face."
If there were a caricature of an evangelical on the popular show The Office, Alice would fit the bill perfectly. She embodies all the negative stereotypes our culture has about evangelical Christians: she's judgmental of all things secular, she frequently refers to "the Lord" in any and all conversations, she gets so pumped up when talking about her faith that her behavior borders on the bizarre, she's completely (and purposefully) out of touch with culture, and she regularly asks co-workers and customers alike what would happen to them if they got in a car accident while leaving the store. Would God let them into heaven or would they burn in hell?
Alice considers any attempt by a supervisor to get her to "tone down" her evangelism at work as persecution, spurring her on to even more zealous proselytizing. In a word, Alice is obnoxious.
None of us want to be like Alice, so we hop on the pendulum and take a ride as it swings far in the other direction. Instead of going overboard with evangelism at work, our efforts to share our faith may be more "subtle" and "nuanced." They may be so subtle, in fact, that they're imperceptible.
Or we may be waiting—for the right opportunity, the right relationship, the right line of conversation. The trouble comes when we're waiting for a really long time … like years.
How can we share our faith with co-workers while maintaining a high-level of integrity about what's appropriate at the workplace? Here are 10 non-obnoxious ideas:
1. As you deepen friendships with co-workers, ask sincere questions and truly listen in a spirit of caring as they share about their lives. When appropriate, tell others you're praying for them. (Then make sure you actually do pray!)
2. Make it a daily habit to pray as you drive to work or as you walk into the office; ask God to help you see your workplace as a mission field.
3. Refuse to hide or play-down the importance of your faith. When it naturally fits a conversation, freely talk about the role your church, prayer, Scripture, and Christian community have in your life. Let others see the joy and purpose you find in your faith.
4. Emphasize the importance of God's love for all people by initiating opportunities to lead your co-workers in service or charity. For example, lead a canned food drive for a local food pantry or organize your company's annual blood drive. When appropriate, share in conversation how you are motivated to help others by God's character and his love.
5. Start or join a lunch-time Bible study or prayer group at your office.
6. Strive for excellence and integrity in your work. Don't be a slacker or a poor worker; be the person that co-workers and supervisors can rely on to do a solid job.
7. Form a prayer partnership with a Christian co-worker; meet together regularly to discuss your efforts to shine Christ's light at work, and pray for specific co-worker relationships.
8. As you deepen your relationship with a non-Christian co-worker, invite her for lunch off-site or to a weekend night out for a movie and coffee. Being out of the workplace environment will set a more open tone as you talk and get to know each other better. Being off-site will also allow you more freedom to talk directly about your faith and to share the gospel.
9. Invite interested co-workers to social events with your Christian friends, to your small group Bible study, or to events at your church. As holidays such as Christmas or Easter approach, invite a co-worker to attend church with you; many people who don't regularly attend church are open to coming on an important holiday.
10. Be attentive to the Holy Spirit's leading. When you're unsure about whether or not to say something about your faith, check in with God. He'll nudge you in the right direction and will give you the words to say (Mark 13:11).
God's put you right where he wants you—he's got a plan for you to shine his light in your workplace! So invite God to challenge you about bringing your faith to work. You may be surprised by how un-Alice-like evangelism at work can be!
Kelli B. Trujillo (www.kellitruijllo.com) is an author and the managing editor of Kyria's downloads.