The Christian and the Workplace

By Wayne Jackson

More and more, it appears, Americans are finding that materialism isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. Without some sort of spiritual flavor, there is a void in life—an aching of the soul that longs for a greater satisfaction.

In 1999, Business Week’s lead essay was “Religion in the Workplace—The growing presence of spirituality in Corporate America” (November 1). This article describes the accelerated interest in religion within the American business community.

Drawing heavily from the book, The Next American Spirituality (by George Gallup and Tim Jones—The Gallup Organization, National Opinion Research Center), the essay asserted that studies reveal more than half of America’s citizens feel they’ve become “too busy” with vocational pursuits to “enjoy God” and give appropriate attention to their spiritual lives.

According to one survey, ninety-five percent of all Americans profess to believe in God, and forty-eight percent of them claim they talk about their faith with their associates in the workplace. Amazingly, seventy-eight percent confess they feel the need to experience “spiritual growth” in their lives.

Further, according to the article under review, there is “mounting evidence that spiritually minded programs in the workplace not only soothe workers’ psyches but also deliver improved productivity.” Studies have shown that employees who work for organizations that encourage spiritual values are less fearful, less likely to compromise their values, and are more able to throw themselves into their jobs. Professor Ian Mitroff of the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business says that “spirituality could be the ultimate competitive advantage.”

Consider the case of S. Truett Cathy. Cathy, who identifies himself as an “evangelical Christian,” is the founder of Chick-fil-A, Inc. Every Monday morning this Atlanta-based firm provides a devotional time for its employees who wish to participate. And get this: on Sundays, when McDonald’s and Burger King are doing a brisk business, Cathy closes his fast-food franchises. His rationale? “My Sunday School boys would think I’m a hypocrite if I’m up there teaching while my cash register is jingling.”

Can you fathom how much profit Mr. Cathy is willing to forfeit for the sake of promoting his religious values? His level of conviction dwarfs that of many professing Christians.

But let me get a bit closer to home. We live in an around-the-clock economy. It is not always possible for the Christian to arrange his work schedule so that he can be with the Lord’s people every time they meet for worship. Churches attempt to arrange their services so as to accommodate the majority, but not every soul can be facilitated.

But here, I believe, are some things about which we need to think:

  1. When we, as Christians, own our businesses, and can, therefore, determine our personal schedules, we ought to so arrange our work hours that when the church is gathered to provoke one another to love and good works (cf. Hebrews 10:24-25), we are there with our brethren. We may rationalize that our “financial obligations” dictate that we work while the church is meeting; but are we really honest about that? Have we strapped ourselves with many unnecessary things that have created our “circumstances”?
  2. When our employers will allow us to adopt a flexible time-frame so as to accommodate religious devotions, is it really a reflection of true spirituality when we do not? Are we sometimes too timid to even inquire as to whether or not we can work at times that don’t conflict with church services? Would we be willing to sacrifice a few dollars, and work a shift which allows us the time for church attendance, rather than take a higher paying shift?
  3. Should we, if we are really zealous for the Lord’s cause, volunteer for overtime on those occasions when such takes us away from Christian fellowship and spiritual communion?

These are serious questions which may help us analyze our spiritual condition and genuine interests. We need to look deeply into our souls about such matters. Must we look to the world for the examples of putting God ahead of mammon?

The next time you are tempted to forego worshipping with the saints for a “few dollars more,” think about the words of the Savior: “But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).

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About the Author

Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.