“So, what do you do for a living?”
“I’m a lawyer.”
“Oh … I’m sorry.”
I’ve had that exact conversation with countless people. The vast majority of the time, my new acquaintance is just giving me a hard time. But, sometimes it’s clear that there is truth behind the sarcasm. Either way, their response reveals something that all of us inherently know: lawyers aren’t the most respected bunch in our society.
Despite our reputations (and, I know, many of you will find this hard to believe), it’s not a prerequisite that lawyers be dishonest swindlers. Even more unbelievable, lawyers can even be Christ followers! In truth, lawyers face many of the exact same challenges and temptations as Christian workers in every other industry.
I think it goes without saying—whether you’re an accountant, a day trader, a teacher or a CEO—that we are all under constant pressure to “leave our faith at the company doorstep.” We’re told to only think about “spiritual” matters during a two hour period on Sunday mornings. Or, maybe (if we’re “super spiritual”) during our “quiet times” each morning too. But, certainly not at work and certainly not (heaven forbid) in conversations with our co-workers. The scariest part of this, to me, is that many of us have come to accept this reality. We look up at the end of the day and realize that the gospel has been nonexistent from our entire work day. I certainly know that I do many days. So, the question is: what can we do about this problem? I’m certainly no expert, but I’d like to offer a couple suggestions that have helped me.
First, I think we have to realize that—for many of us— our workplace is the greatest evangelistic opportunity we have. There we have our customers, our co-workers; our bosses, our subordinates, our competitors, and our lunch-mates. All these relationships provide opportunities to shed the light of Christ and be a witness for Jesus. Unfortunately, for many of us, we neglect this great opportunity. In fact, many of us are more likely to share the gospel with a homeless person that we’ve never met than with a co-worker who we interact with every day. This is truly tragic. If we really believe in the transforming power of the gospel, then we must view our workplace as a means for sharing that great story. If we don’t, who will?
In addition to sharing the good news of the gospel, we also need to distinguish ourselves by how we do our jobs … because our actions communicate what we believe about our God. Whether we routinely interact with people or we spend the majority of our day staring at a computer, we are called to exemplify Christ in all we do. What does that mean? Well, at the very least, it should mean that we work diligently and efficiently; avoid workplace gossip; be attentive to the needs of our co-workers; avoid grumbling; have a servant’s heart; be an encourager; offer to pray for a co-worker; treat the janitor the same way we treat the CEO … and on and on and on. There are no shortages of ways that our faith should influence our daily interactions on the job. In a materialistic world that is consumed with the bottom line and that desperately wants to divorce the secular from the spiritual, our actions at work should stick out like a zebra with no stripes.
I’m reminded of the tax collector Zacchaeus. In Luke, we’re told that upon becoming a believer in Christ, he immediately vowed to repay his “victims” four times what he had taken from them. Talk about having your faith radically transform your job! Like Zaccheus, our devotion to Jesus should radically transform the manner in which we approach our job and, at the end of the day, should make us stand out amidst a fallen world.
I’d love to hear how other people have infused their faith in Christ into their “secular” jobs. Any insights would be greatly appreciated! We lawyers need all the help we can get.