Saturday, 21 January 2012

Witnessing at work

Being an effective witness for Christ at work is a challenge that many Christians face, because we are paid to do our best by working hard for our employers. Proselytizing in a business or workplace often doesn’t go down well with employees and employers for obvious reasons. So how can we let people see Christ in us, so that we may create genuine opportunities to do what we were commanded by Jesus? 

"And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself." Romans 12: 32

This is one of my favourite scriptures, because Jesus said “I will draw all men to Myself”. By quoting this scripture you may well think to yourself,“It sounds as if he is saying that I should let every colleague at my place of work know about Jesus” – and you would be right! However, we have to be wise here. We must lift up Jesus and let people see the Christ that dwells in our hearts by our words, actions and deeds. This is an incredibly powerful way of witnessing.

“In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” Matthew 5: 16

The Bible truly is a manual showing how we ought to live our lives. All the answers that we need about life are there. We just need to read it and get it into our hearts. When we do that the Holy Spirit will reveal amazing truths to us.
We must be different from our colleagues that don’t know Christ as their Saviour. This doesn’t mean we must act in a religious way that people cannot relate to, but rather it is trying to be like Jesus, letting His light and love shine through us. It’s a challenge, certainly because we have to constantly check ourselves to ensure that we present a Christ-like persona.

Key point: We must be different by allowing Jesus to shine in our lives for others to see

A well known evangelist once shared the story of when he worked in a local factory. He came to Christ and was so changed by the experience that it shocked people. Previously he was a rock singer who had a reputation to match. The transformation in his life was evident for all to see. Added to that, he wanted everyone in the factory to know about the life-changing Jesus he had found.

The factory where he worked was a large employer and as a result had a very large and busy staff canteen. Every day he would proclaim Jesus Christ by shouting scriptures like:

Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.” Matthew 3: 2.

He even brought his guitar to work and would sing Gospel songs while people ate their food. He said “Within a couple of weeks I realised that the canteen was always nearly empty when I was on my dinner break”. It’s no wonder really, is it?

I know of another man who works in factory that acts in a similar way. He recently told his colleagues during their break time that they were all going to Hell. Consequently, people avoid him like the plague.

I am certain that you would agree that the method used by the converted rock singer and the factory worker do not have the desired effect. However, may I suggest a few simple ideas that you can use which will allow Jesus to shine through you and will inevitably lead someone to ask you questions about your faith. Here are five that achieve great results!

Don’t get involved in workplace Gossip:

It can be easy to allow yourself to be drawn into this type of situation. Always look for the good in the person being criticised and speak of that only. Make it clear to co workers that you don’t agree with “Work Gossip”. It may be difficult because the person being discussed may have done something bad. You can agree that it is wrong but leave it there.  You will soon discover that colleagues will say to you something like “I can tell you this about me, because I know you won’t tell anyone” The way you act in this regard will speak volumes.

Be a Godly example of an enthusiastic hard working and reliable worker:

Scripture states clearly how we should act at work:

“Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favour, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” Colossians 3- 22-23.

Not only will it set an example to your colleagues but your bosses, too!

Be an encourager of colleagues:

Speak only good of them and be encouraging towards them when you have genuine opportunities to do so. It is vital that when you do, that what you say is congruent. In other words, you look like you really mean what you say. Unfortunately, many people never receive encouragement at all, not even from their bosses. What you say and do will make a difference. People will warm to you and it will start to happen very quickly in many cases.   

Be available to help:

Always be there to help when someone is in need. It might be pushing a car that has a flat battery, offering to pick up something from a shop or just getting the knives and forks together in the canteen for your colleagues. Over time people will start to view you differently.

Bring in the occasional gift to share with colleagues:

It might be a bag of doughnuts, some sweets or biscuits. When you do this you will hear genuine thanks from people as you do this. I have worked in offices when people have brought in a box of chocolates and said “Help yourselves”. People do just that, and are often grateful.

We are not just trying to convert people by deliberately acting in this way to somehow trick people into following Christ. Of course not. If Jesus is truly in our hearts, we should act like this anyway. People must see His love in us first of all.

In my experience, ( that) some colleagues will begin asking questions like, “What is different about you?” or “What would you do in this situation?”, because you are a person of integrity. You will then be able to bring Christ into your answer. When you do, it will back up the way you live your life.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

"Help, I messed up while sharing the Gospel

Over the time that I have been a Christian, I have to be honest and say that there have been a few occasions where I missed the chance to share the Gospel, or I have made mistakes and not done as well as I thought I should have. There are reasons for this of course. On occasion, I was probably tired, not alert or perhaps even a little fearful of rejection. In the early days I probably thought that I didn’t know enough about scripture. These reasons are certainly not uncommon for any Christians that I know.

It is at times like this that people can get into the “Should have” guilt trip. They will start to say to themselves, “I should have done this”, or “I should have said that”. Yes it’s important that we learn from when we do make mistakes, but at the same time we should not give ourselves a hard time about it. Accept the fact that you could have done better and ask God to help you in the future. We are not all like the great evangelists who seem to be able to lead anyone to Christ. They will tell you that they missed opportunities themselves in the past. None of us are perfect.

There are couple of very relevant points that we shouldn’t forget. I believe they relate to what Paul said in Corinthians when it comes to a fear of being rejected or of not knowing enough scripture:

When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words….” 1 Corinthians 1: 1-4

Firstly I will quote a well known saying from sport, “We will all drop the ball sometimes”. We can’t all be absolutely perfect all of the time, and what’s important to remember is that God doesn’t expect us to be that way either.

Some years ago, I used to have a young man that worked for me as a sales person. Previous to that he was a professional cricket player with one of the top teams in the country. He had to stop playing due to an injury at a young age. His team was full of top international cricketers, two of which were acknowledged as the best in the world at that time. I remember him telling me what would happen if he dropped a catch during a game. The two top players would give him such a hard time that he didn’t even want to go into the changing rooms as he knew that they would be on to him and not let him forget it.

I am so grateful that God isn’t like that with us. When we make a mistake and ask Him for forgiveness, He not only forgives us but He also forgets. As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us”. Psalm 103: 12 What a great loving, merciful and forgiving God we have.

Paul said that he didn’t come with “eloquence or human wisdom” when he shared the Gospel with people. That is certainly good news for me to hear as I wouldn’t describe myself using either of those words. Secondly, he said “I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words” Wow, he is probably even more like you me than I thought he was. That’s a great comfort to know.

God does something that is amazing with us imperfect beings. He knows that we will mess up from time to time, yet He never gives up on us. That’s right, never. Yet knowing all of that, He chooses to entrust us with the most important message ever. The amazing life changing story of His only begotten Son. It’s incredible when you think about it.

As an evangelist I have been used to preach the Gospel and see people come to Christ. It is always a humbling experience for me. I often ask myself “Why would the Lord want to use me”?  Because He knows the real me, he knows my every thought and action yet he still uses me. Normal thinking doesn’t work that way does it? His word says, “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong”. 1 Corinthians 1: 27

Reading that scripture and others like it, really is a great encouragement to me. It should be the same for you as well, because we will all get things wrong from time to time. We will feel disappointed or even guilty when we mess up, but we have a forgiving God who loves us and wants to help us to grow.

The second point is that prayer is the vital remedy here with regards to minimising the occasional dropped ball. Being prayed up will strengthen you and keep you spiritually alert. The saying that we have probably all heard before, “Seven days without prayer makes one weak”, may well be a cliché, but it is a true statement in reality.

We must be prayed up, asking God to direct our paths, to send people to us that are ready to hear the Gospel. I have said many times before “If we ask Him, He will send them”.

Keep prayed up and the opportunities will come along. Some will not go as you hoped. But the more you do something with the right intentions, the better you will become at it.