Three Common Challenges for Christians in the Workplace

Jan 25, 2019, Written by Rachel Isbill

Christians in business often go against the grain of corporate culture. We’re different. This shouldn’t be a surprise. After all, scripture is clear in referencing a believer’s distinct role in a secular world.

“If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.”

John 15:19

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Romans 12:2

“For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away.”

1 John 2: 16-17

The Word is explicit in describing our unique calling. Our work looks different because our ‘why’ and ‘how’ in our work must look different. It’s an overflow of the heart, as well as a Biblical command. The values we follow, culture we create, and perspective we prescribe to are based on a belief system that will not make sense to the world.

As 1 John describes, a secular industry will pursue achievement, success, and desires as defined by a limited perspective of the here and now. As Christians, we strive toward a different goal- the glory of the Lord. Thus we follow a different path- achieving different objectives, working under different standards, and defining success differently.

This “other road” leads us to some unique challenges.

Three Common Challenges

1. Loneliness

We’ve established that as Christians in business we’re different. And it’s not all rainbows and butterflies on the journey. Our differentiation can feel isolating.

In certain industries and roles, it will be difficult to find others functioning similarly to you. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear you say that you are often misunderstood and possibly scrutinized for your business practices.

This can especially be true for owners and executives.  In these roles there is less lateral companionship as well as an increased responsibility and pressure. It’s difficult to find others who share the same weight, much less individuals in the Church.

2. Balance between being boss and shepherd.

It is a gift that many Christians in the workplaces value investment in employees. Seeing individuals as humans and taking a personal interest in their lives is a recognition of how the Lord calls us to value people’s souls as well as their production.

I would not be the employee, leader, or person that I am today had it not been for a supervisor who chose to disciple me daily as a woman, believer, manager and marketing professional.

However, it is easy for the lines to get blurry. When am I mentor and when am I boss? To what extent do I extend grace or require advancement? When is it appropriate to be personal vs. professional? Establishing these roles in the workplace and discerning when to implement them is challenging.

3. Measurable outcomes on intangible progress.

Profit is not your ultimate goal, as we’ve discussed there is a greater priority on eternal work.  But there is still a necessity of performance.

How do you work with accountability and stewardship in your work, while not losing sight of eternal perspective?

Add a layer of complexity for those of you who are in social enterprises. Oftentimes if you are working toward an intangible goal there can be a significant struggle to identify effective ways to measure results and success. In my experience, it sometimes even feels unethical to do so. How do I place value on a life effected?

Good News for Big Challenges

Are any of these challenges resonating with you? What other obstacles affect you daily?

I want to first affirm the validity of the struggle. I wish I had answers for you… “10 easy steps to doing Christian Business right.” But I don’t. However, I hope you are encouraged to know that you are not alone in your wrestling. The Lord knew that following Him in this space would lead to tension. In fact, He told us it would be so. The enemy will be sure to seek to bring disruption to God’s glory. However, your calling and purpose are clear.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Matthew 5:14-16

According to scripture, your job is to seek the Lord and follow Him. Pursue light.

You can find peace in simplifying your role in the Lord’s glory in your workplace. He has not said “Find all the answers, balance your roles perfectly, be satisfied in isolation.” He has said to be diligent in seeking and trust Him to be faithful.

“I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 3:12-14

In the midst of these challenges, press on. We have not made it yet, I know. There’s still room for wrestling and seeking. These challenges are real and pressing.

However, our prize is secure!

It may not be ease in navigating the challenges we’ve discussed. But my prayer for each of you is that you would keep perspective. As Christians, we do not work for the things of this world. We are not striving for the same goals that our non-believing counterparts are working toward. We can rest in the promised reward of heaven for eternity and Christ with us now. There is hope amidst a role that looks different than what the world beckons.

What challenges do you face as a Christian in business? What hope could be offered through evaluating those challenges through an eternal lens? How can you pursue light as a means to fulfilling your Biblical calling?

Applying faith to business is the heartbeat of Crossroads. To discuss challenges like these and others would be our joy. Call us at (225) 341-4147 or email me at [email protected] to navigate seeking the Lord in your business together.

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Rachel Isbill

Rachel Miley serves clients as Crossroads' Marketing & Communications Strategist. Her desire is to meet clients’ goals through effective and innovative content development, strategic planning and coaching. A prior career in the non-profit sector has brought Rachel to Crossroads with a mindset of creativity and resourcefulness. Her desire is to help individuals discover how to glorify the Lord in and through their work.

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