One of my early strategies as a speaker was to mention in churches that I also speak to businesses so that people would recommend me to their business. One pastor told me there was a flaw in my strategy. He said many church people have little or no influence in the business community. When he said that, I recalled asking a man in our church if a fellow businessman had a positive spiritual influence in the community. He looked me in the eye and replied that he had zero influence. He said that the man was a nut, and people just wrote him off as a joke.
A friend of mine heads a Christian organization. He told me, "You know, at times I feel like I would rather hire non-Christians, because the Christians I hire take advantage of me all the time. They're always spiritualizing everything. They say, 'You care for families. Surely I can take off for this. Surely I can take off for that. You believe in church. Surely I don't have to go to this since I need to be at church.' And they never get their work done."
We have no spiritual influence because we are often incompetent in the secular world, and that's not biblical.
Daniel had unbelievable spiritual influence because in the secular world he was better than the rest. We have a crisis today in the work force. Not many people say to me, "I wish I had more Christians working for me." It's just the opposite. They say, "I can't seem to get these people to work."
There was a young lady who was a sergeant in the Army. She was single and looking for Mr. Right. While she was in a seven-week leadership training course, she wrote her mother and said, "There's a man here I'd really like to get to know better. But, Mom, they won't allow us to wear make-up while in this course. Therefore, he doesn't really know what I look like." Sometimes at church we wear our make-up, don't we? The working world teaches us what we really look like.
How much of a contribution do we make at work? We can be lazy. Someone said, "It's not lazy. It's energetically declined." The Bible calls that lazy. If you give a man a fish, he can eat it for a day. If you teach a lazy man to fish, he'll sit in his boat and drink beer all day. One man said he didn't have to worry about being replaced by a computer. His boss said a pocket calculator could replace him.
Maybe people are lazy because they don't like their jobs. The song says, "Take this job and shove it." Do you remember the singer's name? It's Johnny Paycheck. Isn't that funny? Johnny Paycheck wrote about a job he couldn't stand. If your only motivation is money, you will soon feel like that song. A survey said that one-fourth of all Americans are angry at work. If that's true, just consider the implications at your place of employment.
What does God want? He wants us to understand work, why He created it, and why it's important. Job dissatisfaction comes from having no purpose. A survey of stressful jobs found that tollbooth operators had the most stressful job. You would have thought it should be air traffic controllers. The stress for tollbooth operators came from knowing that a machine could replace them at any time. It's an easy job, but it has lots of stress. Work may not have meaning, but we can bring meaning to work. The question is, "Who are you working for?"
A man who walked to work each day watched a crane operator doing a great job and working hard. He stopped and watched for a few minutes each day. By the end of the week, he had formed the habit of watching. One day when the operator was out of the crane, the man told him, "I just wanted you to know you are an inspiration to me. You are here early, work hard, and have a good attitude." The operator looked at him and said, "I thought you were the supervisor." God is our supervisor.
According to the Bible, we have a career and a calling. He has called us to work for Him. His business is redeeming mankind, and most are not at church but at our work. Your place of employment may be a hard place to work but that is why He told us to let our light shine. It shines brighter in a dark place.
A chaplain of a professional baseball team told a young player who was constantly quoting Scripture, "Son, don't quote Scripture until you hit home runs." Let's encourage our people to hit home runs at work. Too often our lights are a glare, not a glow. It's an "in your face" kind of light. "Here's my tract. Read this Scripture. You ought to be in church. Fly or fry." We repel instead of attract. We glare instead of glow.
What's the bottom line? Maybe it would be better to encourage people to stay late and help the boss finish a project rather than to ask to leave early. Why? Because the next time a member comes to church, his boss might just come with him.
Charles Lowery is founder and president of LIFE, Inc. and is in a full time speaking ministry. You may contact LIFE, Inc. at 505-798-0800 or www.charleslowery.com.