In my first job as a journalist I found a number of time pressures, and challenges to my faith, including ethical issues, and a culture marked by swearing and alcohol abuse.
As a young Christian, this was a difficult environment to work in. I felt very underprepared. What was a faith response to this alien world of work?
Some Christians told me to be good, not to be impacted by what I saw or heard or experienced.
Some told me to look for any opportunity to share the Gospel.
Some told me my duty was to use my position to do promote Christians or the church.
Some told me to keep my head down and pray.
Some told me that faith was only for Sundays.
I tried to get my pastor to help me, but he had difficulty understanding or engaging with my world of work. The teaching on Sunday was about spiritual matters rather than everyday issues. The application was usually confined to four options: pray more, read my Bible more, evangelise more, and/or do more things at church.
When I came across ethical issues, there seemed to be no wisdom in the Bible, or in church. How did I stand firm when a strong-willed boss wanted to exaggerate a story or reveal a source or invade someone’s personal grief?
I ended up being tempted to live two separate lives, the Christian Kara running youth group and Bible study, and praying during services on Sunday. Then there was the reporter Kara who was slightly more risqué with her language, and attitudes, and behaviour from Monday to Friday.
In my heart I knew this was unsustainable. It felt like a double-life, and it was impacting on my relationship with God, and with others.
I was living a life that was not integrating faith and work. I was dis-integrating!
Think it through
What are some of the responses you have experienced or seen to a faith crisis at work?
Are you tempted to withdraw? Or Resign? Or just begin acting like those around you?
What does the Bible say?
In a magnificent piece of rhetoric, Paul mocks those who have become ‘rich’ in the eyes of the world. In fact, as Christians, we value very differently things such as career, wealth and even truth and ambition:
For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive [by grace from God]? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?
Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you! For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honour, but we in disrepute. To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labour, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things. (1 Corinthians 4:7–13)
Being a Christian means being different, but that does not mean we have to flee our context, just recognise that we live by a different set of values and a different standard of truth. There is no shame if in Christ we are seen as ‘the scum of the world’.
Lord of all truth, give us wisdom as we work, to make good choices and to uphold your truth. Give us grace that we can live well with those who have a different set of values. Give us compassion that we can be alongside others who might be finding it difficult at work. Give us courage to stand up when we are tempted to give in to the prevailing attitudes. Give us eyes to see where you are at work, and to work alongside you. When we are reviled, help us to bless; when persecuted, help us to endure; when slandered by others, help us to seek ways to please those who mean us harm.