Recently, much of America watched as the moon passed between the Earth and the sun. Stories from people who witnessed the total eclipse described a remarkable phenomenon. Why were so many people captivated by the experience? Perhaps because it was so unusual. Usually the moon reflects the sun’s light. Last month, it actually blocked part of that light. Rather than reflecting the sun, the moon was an obstacle to sunlight.
As Christians, we are called to reflect Christ in our workplaces. But as I thought about the eclipse, it occurred to me that we too can be an obstacle to Christ shining where we work. There are three ways in particular where we are either reflecting Christ or blocking him—in our thinking, in our talk, and in our connections with others.
1. Reflect Christ in Your Thinking
The first way that we can reflect Christ is our attitude toward work. It’s easy to let our minds and hearts wander toward things that don’t reflect Jesus. Look at what Paul told the Philippians: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble...right...lovely...admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8). God wants our minds filled with Christ-centered thinking. The context of this verse is important—immediately after a command to rejoice and immediately before a description of contentment. You can’t rejoice or practice contentment in your workplace if you’re not focused on Jesus.
What are some obstacles to reflecting Christ in our thinking? For one thing, it’s easy to worry instead of trusting God’s peace. Losing a customer, a micromanaging boss, or a backstabbing coworker—there are lots of worry triggers. Jesus says, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Or, maybe you don’t worry, but you struggle with pride. Pride alienates the people around us and makes it too easy to forget our dependence on God. It’s the attitude of Babel, where the people said, “look at all we’ve accomplished.” Maybe your obstacle is being so focused on the next promotion or the next achievement that you lose sight of what’s really important. All of those attitudes are common in workplaces. But remember, if you’re going to reflect Christ, you have to think uncommonly!
2. Reflect Christ in Your Talk
Our talk comes from our thinking (Luke 6:45), and how we talk can definitely reflect or block God’s work. Many workplace conversations are filled with gossip, grumbling, course joking, or sarcasm. It’s all too easy to join in when others are gossiping about a coworker or supervisor. In some workplaces, talk can be a weapon to get ahead, a way of using office politics to gain an advantage. I know for me personally, I am much too quick to respond with sarcasm when I’m frustrated with something at work.
Instead of gossip, grumbling, or any kind of talk that tears people down, if we’re to reflect Christ, we need to follow Ephesians 4:29—only say what is helpful and benefits others. The idea of limiting speech to only what is wholesome, helpful for building up and beneficial may seem almost like a vow of silence. God wants us to be different from the world around us, and how we talk is certainly one way to show the uniqueness of God’s people in workplaces where unwholesome talk may be the norm.
3. Reflect Christ in Your Connections
A final way that we can reflect Christ at work is through the connections that we form with people in our workplaces. We are created to be relational, but our society is increasingly emphasizing busy-ness over connection. The result of constantly being busy is that we feel as though we don’t have time to develop meaningful connections with others. Michael Stallard, in his book Connection Culture, describes this trend as a Culture of Indifference where we move through our day and feel as if we don’t have time to show concern or compassion for the people around us. But how can you love your neighbor as yourself if you are too busy to notice your neighbor? Look at Isaiah 61:1. Isaiah said that God’s Spirit was on him to proclaim good news to those who needed it. To heal the brokenhearted. To release those held captive in darkness. Jesus applied these verses to Himself in Luke 4:18, but they also serve as a call to us. Honoring God in your workplace isn’t just about evangelizing or living ethically or being a respectful subordinate. Part of honoring God is transforming the world around us by bringing hope to the hopeless. That requires taking the time to build connections with the people you see at work.
The moon didn’t block out the sun completely or for very long. Some people didn’t see the eclipse and enjoyed the sunshine all day. For those in the path of the eclipse, it was over in just a few moments. Likewise, God’s kingdom will advance even if you are blocking it. But is that what you want to do? My guess is that all of us want to be a reflection of Him. So ask yourself this week: Am I reflecting God in my thinking? In my talking? In my connections? Of course we are all imperfect in everything that we do, but how can you better reflect Christ in your workplace?
Johny Garner has a Ph.D. in communication and is an associate professor at Texas Christian University. He studies organizational communication. Tweet him @johnygarner || http://www.mondaymorningchristianity.com
Image Credit: ©Thinkstock/g-stockstudio
Publication date: September 8, 2017