Secular Seduction


I believe we all face a “crisis moment” in our career when we realize just how important it is to live out our faith in the midst of challenging secular environments. While I am blessed to now oversee a team of amazing women who put Jesus first, there were many seasons in my career when I had to learn to navigate workplace environments that challenged who I was and what I believed.

I learned the importance of living out my faith in a secular work environment when I worked under Don Williams, CEO at Trammell Crow Corporation and CBRE. Faith was the foundation of his leadership, and as he mentored me he modeled what living out faith at work looks like in practice. I was also blessed to work directly for a President who also lived out his faith in the workplace. Since I started at TCC in 1987, being a Christian at work was who I was.

Then, in 2008, I took a new position as Global COO of ProLogis. It wasn’t great timing – the Great Recession started shortly after I came onboard, and stock prices of our company plummeted from $60 a share to about $2 a share in 2009. This left a very negative environment for me to deal with. Our CEO struggled to cut costs to survive the crash, the company culture was very competitive, and faith was not a part of the leadership team. I ended up leaving the company in February 2009, and while I don’t look back with regret, it was difficult to leave a company led by people who put their faith first for a company that didn’t value faith in Jesus, especially during a crisis.

Our identity as Christians can be tested in the workplace in many ways. If you travel, you know there are opportunities for men to approach you who are interested in more than “just business.” Fortunately, there are very clear signals you can give to shut down that possibility:

  1. Whenever you are out to dinner with a client and they want to drive or walk you back to your hotel, immediately stick out your hand for a handshake and thank them for their time.
  2. Leave any evening gatherings by 10 p.m.
  3. Always limit yourself to one alcoholic drink.

There are potential pitfalls in the office, too. At one point, a client realized they made $1 million more on a deal than they should have. They wanted my company to split the extra cash and keep it under the table. Even though this was one of our top clients, I knew what they were proposing was unethical and not Christ-like. I went to our CEO, told them what was happening, and got their support in telling the client we wouldn’t even entertain the idea of keeping the overage. This was risky, because we could lose this client, but I knew it was more important to remain above board ethically, and fortunately my CEO agreed.

These are just a few stories about the challenges we face living out our faith in the workplace. It is so important to have Christian women – and men! – working in secular environments where they can be a light and an example of how Jesus commands us to live. If women aren’t in the marketplace, where most people spend the majority of their waking hours, we don’t have the opportunity to meet them “where they are” and show them what it looks like to put Jesus first.

These two verses have continually encouraged me as I faced trials living out my faith at work:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-8

Ultimately, I know that God will use everything that happens in my life – including at work – for good, and that if I remain calm in difficult situations and trust God, He will give me peace and protect me in even the most hostile work environment.

It is extra special for me to reflect on these opportunities that I have been given to live out my faith in the workplace today. It is the fifth anniversary of when I first founded God began planting the vision for 4word in my heart in 2009  and two years later I put together a strategic plan and launched 4word. Five years later, I never could have predicted how many women 4word has impacted through our digital platform, local groups, and mentor program. It is an immense privilege to share with thousands of women across the country and even the world about why living out our faith in the workplace matters and how to prioritize relationships and focus on our faith to achieve our full God-given potential.

Later this week, we have an opportunity to raise money for 4word through Giving Day. By giving out of the abundance God has given to us, we can continue to reach, connect, and encourage even more women seeking to live out their faith at work. I sincerely hope you will join us on Giving Day to support 4word and the future women we strive to meet.


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