Most of us know how to turn it on when the stakes are high and the bigwigs are watching. It may come as a shock, but Christians ought to be just as concerned about “routine faithfulness” in small tasks before an Audience of One, to borrow a phrase from today’s installment of the “Our Daily Bread” devotional guide.
Life’s routine matters, “the little foxes,” are usually what cause us to stumble. We all come off as spiritual at prayer and small group meetings. The trouble comes when we have to keep the laundry under control, the dishes washed and toilets scrubbed at home. If we hold it together there, maybe we struggle with staying on task at work when the boss isn’t looking.
It’s understandable. Who hasn’t checked their email only to lose half an hour of prime work time?
If we aren’t intentional in this distractible culture, however, our Christian character can lose its luster under harsh scrutiny. Consider the cautionary tale of an employee whom I “met” after inheriting their company-issue computer. We never had a face-to-face encounter; it was more of a virtual introduction through the uncleared hard drive.
Through that computer, sometimes quite by accident, I learned more about the former employee than any stranger ought to know. Mostly, I learned that they spent much of their work day doing things completely unrelated to work while many detailed aspects of their paying job were neglected for years.
Musical downloads revealed their tastes in music. Their preferred Internet websites were logged in the bookmarks cache. Their spouse evidently was often job hunting judging from the number of completed employment applications left behind. (The Social Security numbers alone would have been a boon for an identity thief.)
This employee was big on “giving back” if the multiple emails and files of their charitable work can be trusted. They prized family, too, producing various party invitations in Microsoft Publisher and scanning family photos. Did I mention that this person had a reputation as a dedicated Christian who had done a “good job” in the visible aspects of the position?
I’m not sure God would agree.
Christians should be an employer’s most productive, trustworthy and dependable workers. As followers of Christ, we are called to work hard whether we are being supervised or not. We are to “work with enthusiasm, as though [we] were working for the Lord rather than for people.”(Ephesians 6) Sadly, I’ve actually heard people say that they hesitate to hire Christian people because they tend to be lazy on the job.
I’m fond of the North Carolina state motto, and I think it applies here. It’s the Latin phrase, Esse quam videri meaning “To be, rather than to seem.”
I’m committed to being a Christian rather than simply seeming to be one. If that’s your goal, and you are blessed to still be employed in this economy, don’t bother posting Scripture verses in your cubicle or inviting people to Bible study over lunch. Go to work on time. Do the very best job you can while you’re there; and be mindful to treat people well no matter how they may treat you.
That’s all the Christian witness you’ll ever need.
P.S. If you leave your job, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to clear your hard drive!