Is Professionalism Camouflaging Your Faith?

by theilr via flckr

As Christians at work, we’re all trying to strike the right balance when it comes to sharing our faith with co-workers. Living out your faith doesn’t have to mean 24/7 proselytizing in the break room, but you shouldn’t exactly blend in either. As Christians at work there should be “something different” about the way we conduct ourselves, how we treat people, and even the moral standards we keep.

Just because something is acceptable within the business culture around you doesn’t make it the right thing to do. That’s the sort of statement that seems obvious when you’re away from the heat of the moment. But when the pressure’s on and you’re forced to make a snap decision, going against the grain to do the “right thing” or the “better thing” won’t always be your natural impulse. It’s important though that you take care with those decisions, especially the high-pressure ones.

Whether you’re aware or not, your co-workers are paying attention, and they will notice what types of decisions you make. They will come to form their own opinions about you. Over time, your co-workers will be deciding whether they can rely on you and whether they can look to you for leadership.  And they may also be deciding what it looks like to be a Christian.

And it’s not about the big decisions so much as it is the small but consistent decisions that form reputations. Character and perception are built and earned over a series of increments. Making the honorable choice weekly, daily, hourly will help you to stand out as a leader at work.

Some of the most important statements you will make about the kind of person (and Christian) you are come in the form of personnel decisions. Once when I was working for Trammell Crow Company in Dallas, I was responsible for hiring someone to lead a large portion of our business. The person I hired moved his family to Dallas to take the job, and he was a hard worker with a great attitude. He also had fantastic knowledge and a great network in the business, but some of his other skills were simply wrong for the position. Not long after he started, my boss directed me to fire him. I felt terrible, and more than a little responsible. Although it would have been perfectly acceptable business practice, I knew that it would be wrong of me, personally, to fire this employee without at least trying to find him a better fit within the company. So even though I didn’t know him terribly well, I went out on a limb and I convinced our CEO to let me move him to another line of business. That was over ten years ago.  Today that same employee is still with the company and he’s become a key leader in that new business line. Even though it wasn’t the easy or 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.

Over the years, I’ve had many opportunities like this one to live out my faith at work. I certainly haven’t always made perfect choices. But looking back, its clear to me that I make my best decisions by trusting in God’s faithfulness and fully acknowledging that His work is bigger and more important than mine.


For more on Christian leadership at work, check out this great blog from Higher Calling: