Discussing personal faith in the workplace can feel like pogo-sticking through a minefield—with the loss of credibility, relationship, opportunity, and income, all at stake. Yet through prayer, thoughtfulness, and intentionality, spiritual fruit can be born as Christians balance the demands of the workplace with the desire to live out their faith.
“For Martin Luther, vocation is nothing less than the locus of the Christian life,” writes Gene Edward Veith for Acton Commentary. Luther wasn’t interested in sparking an evangelistic conversation with a coworker once a quarter. The reformer believed works of faith transformed other people’s lives as well as the very material and meaning of vocation. Veith explains:
God does not need our good works, Luther said, but our neighbor does. Our relationship with God is based completely on his work for us in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. But having been justified by faith, we are sent by God back into the world, into our vocations, to love and serve our neighbors.
Human flourishing is cultivated in the soil of vocation. A recent study found that, “employees who openly discuss their religious beliefs at work are often happier and have higher job satisfaction than those employees who do not.” The bottom line for Christians, however, isn’t that the integration of faith at work is a noble and profitable enterprise. Because God works through his church scattered throughout the world, our offices, homes, and schools are all sacred places of spiritual transformation—for our neighbors as well as ourselves.
“Vocation counters the materialism and self-centeredness of economic pursuits by giving them a new meaning and a new orientation,” Veith remarks. Luther took this seriously, calling Christians to abandon idolatrous pursuits so their neighbors—their coworkers—might experience the gospel:
If you find yourself in a work by which you accomplish something good for God, or the holy, or yourself, but not for your neighbor alone, then you should know that that work is not a good work. For each one ought to live, speak, act, hear, suffer, and die in love and service for another, even for one’s enemies… so that one’s hand, mouth, eye, foot, heart and desire is for others; these are Christian works, good in nature.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind; love your neighbor as yourself. Veith concludes; “God is hidden in vocation. Christ is hidden in our neighbors.”
Weekend Reading List
- Martin Luther on Vocation and Serving Our Neighbors. Gene Edward Veith for Acton Commentary.
- Soft Difference. Miroslav Volf (excerpts here and here)
- Your Greatest Missional Context—Your Vocation. J.R. Vassar for The Gospel Coalition.
- Finding Jesus at Work. Emma Green for the Atlantic.
- What Companies Can Do When Work and Religion Conflict. Kabrina Krebel Chang for the Harvard Business Review.