You may picture a certain stereotype when you think of Christian coworkers. Do the words hypocritical and uptight ring a bell? Have you worked in a Christian environment only to encounter the same issues you faced in a secular workplace? When we expect people to behave a certain way, whether good or bad, our preconceptions affect how we work with others. At the end of the day, we are all human beings with earthly influences. The title "Christian" should mean doing what Jesus would do, but we tend to add our characteristics to it, including in the workplace. We can work better and encourage more when we recognize how we reflect our faith in our work behaviors. What is it really like to work with Jesus-followers? If you're considering working in a Christian environment or want to improve your interactions with your current coworkers, insight from others might help you gain perspective. I asked a few people about their experience with Christian coworkers, and this is what they had to say:
Working with Christians reminds you of your greater purpose. "Working in ministry is a wonderful gift and responsibility! I wouldn't want to work or do anything else with my life. With fellow believers, we are all trying to reach the same goal; to bring glory to God's kingdom. And at the end of the day, the team you work with eventually becomes your family; all of you collectively chasing that same goal." Your values help you share perspective. "Sharing the same belief system creates common ground and can really help with conflict resolution."
You'll grow more when you talk about how faith affects your work. "I've worked in a very corporate setting where I knew very little about the faith of my coworkers because the culture of that environment didn't really encourage that kind of conversation or provide space for it. The first time I worked somewhere where sharing your faith openly was actually championed was the first time I felt I could be myself."How can we improve as coworkers?"It's easy to assume that everybody working at a church would always be loving and kind, but we are all broken people trying to share the good news of Jesus. Making others feel inadequate is what happens when pride replaces the original goal of loving God and loving people. The way to keep a cheerful heart in ministry is the same as everywhere: Extend grace to those who need it, understand that everyone falls short, and know that God's way is always good."How can you differentiate between pride and Godly ambition? Remember that God wants you to do your best for His glory. It's okay to seek success as long as you aren't dismissing the gifts of others along the way. If you've felt controlled or put down by a Christian coworker, remember that person isn't a reflection of God's plans for you. Some people may claim to speak for God’s will when in reality, they are speaking from their pride. In response to pride, pray for your own humility, and take the time to voice your needs directly. "I think every leader should provide an opportunity throughout the week for their team(s) to connect with one another about more than just work."If you're a leader in a secular environment, you probably don't have the freedom to encourage spiritual discussions with team members. However, you can still make time for your team to connect and feel heard outside of regular work issues. Even without explicitly faith-oriented discussions, you can share the love of Jesus through listening. And if you do work at a faith-based organization or in vocational ministry, remember that it makes a difference to have intentional discussions that are separate from the daily grind."The tricky part is making sure that shared faith doesn't become a means of manipulation, whether intentional or unintentional."Have you heard someone quote Scripture or say, "I just feel like God is calling me to _," to justify their agenda? Jesus should lead all that we do, but there is such a thing as "overspiritualizing" our choices. We have free will, and two people can disagree on an issue with no "right" answer. Using faith as leverage to assert dominance with coworkers is never productive. With people who share your values, it's still important to have objective discussions about the practicality of the goals or conflicts you're facing. Instead of looking for "non-Christ-like" behavior in your coworkers, listen to their strengths and weaknesses. Have boundaries when you need to, but also offer grace and a helping hand. That is how you will lift up fellow believers and open the door to non-believers. Remember: Our identity in Jesus is who we are, not a campaign. Our purpose is not to prove we're the best; it's to give our best. We can find a rhythm of giving and receiving in every area of our lives when we stop thinking we know it all.
Written Content Coordinator at Sun Valley Community Church. An avid writer since the age of 5, who loves to explore new ideas and places. Inspired by Jesus, books, and travel.