Most of us have to give thought and prayer to what it means to be living out our Christian faith in our workplace.
The Church of England defines a number of ‘Marks of Mission’, all of which may be translated into the work environment in some fashion:
- To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
- To teach, baptise and nurture new believers
- To respond to human need by loving service
- To transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation
- To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth
For most Christians, their workplace faithfulness is to focus on the way they do business, conduct relationships and bring their work to good effect. Some intend to be more explicit in acknowledging their faith by taking time to pray at work, speak of their faith and gently witness to their work colleagues. Others organise workplace events to celebrate the Christian festivals.
Some workplaces are ‘faith-friendly’ so that respectful sharing of faith and prayer times are embraced; they may have multi-faith prayer rooms or quiet spaces. Other workplaces may require staff to avoid any reference to faith.
In legal terms, workers have the right to express their faith in the workplace: but there is also a balancing requirement that staff do not feel harassed by other people’s faith. Managers are trying to balance those two legal positions. Being faithful in the workplace is a balance between an individual’s style of exercising their faith, the type of the business and nature of colleagues.
Some Christians in Birmingham and Solihull decorate their work station with Christian messages, and freely talk with colleagues about how their church life vitalises. Some may more discretely try to follow a code of behaviour (like the Rule of St Benedict) in regard to leadership and service eg wise counsel, moderation, respect. Some Christians will challenge their business practices in the way they treat (or pay) customers and suppliers, or try to reduce their environmental footprint.
Staff report that some of the richest faith conversations at work are with people of other faiths and spiritualities: discovering both what they have in common and how they differ. Good practice suggests being willing to speak of what we find good about our own faith, rather than criticizing other people’s faith. Sometimes common ground is to talk about topics like what gives us a sense of wonder, or what helps us to carry on when life is tough.