by Matt Perman
What does it mean to live as a follower of Christ and agent of God’s kingdom in the workplace?
The simplest answer is this: living as a follower of Christ at work means doing our work according to the values of his kingdom.
What, then, are the values of Christ’s kingdom?
Most of the time when we think of Christian values, our thinking can, frankly, be pretty boring. We often limit ourselves to the avoidance ethic — what we don’t want to see people doing. As a result, Christian values have often been reduced simply to things like safety, security, movies that don’t swear too much, and “good family time.”
Many of these things are important in themselves. But the Christian ethic is not simply about avoiding evil, but proactively doing good. And being radical and energetic in it. The question is not what can I spare to serve others and reach the world, but what will it take?
Or, as Charles Spurgeon said:
Let us be on the watch for opportunities of usefulness; let us go about the world with our ears and our eyes open, ready to avail ourselves of every occasion for doing good; let us not be content till we are useful, but make this the main design and ambition of our lives.
Hence, let’s model for the world a more complete picture of Christian values that shows how great God is through our willingness to proactively and lovingly spend ourselves for the good of others in all areas of life, including our workplaces. I submit that such a more complete list of Christian values would include things such as these:
- Radical generosity. Just like Jesus, who did not merely tithe but gave everything he had (2 Corinthians 8:9).
- Love. Ditching the self-protective mindset and putting others before ourselves, making their good our aim in all things (Philippians 2:3-11).
- Risk. Making the good of others a higher priority than our own safety, security, and comfort, and taking risks to bring benefit to them (Luke 10:25-37).
- Creativity. Christians are to be creative!And to be a boring Christian is a sin (that’s an implication of the term “salt” in Colossians 4:6).
- Excellence. Slack work is a form of vandalism (Proverbs 18:9). Christians are not to be clock-watchers in their work, but to do things well and with competence.
- Initiative. Taking ownership for making things better, rather than sitting around watching and complaining.
- Leadership. Instead of criticizing, leading and setting a good example.
- Humble authenticity.
- Global and multi-ethnic vision. God’s mission extends to all peoples and ethnic groups. It is a global cause in the fullest sense.
- Ambition. Not for our own comfort, but for the good of others. Doing good for others in the face of the kingdom of darkness takes God-centered, other-oriented energy, persistence, and drive.
These are all Christian values. But would the world know to name even one of these as Christian? We have a lot of work to do.
Matt Perman is the former Director of Strategy for Desiring God and is currently in process of launching a new organization devoted to equipping Christians theologically and practically, especially in the developing world. His latest book is What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done.