Coming Out as Christian at Work
“We don’t want to be ashamed of the gospel. We want to bring our whole, true selves to work. But it seems that perceptions of Christians are so negative these days.” - TGC
I don’t hide my faith at work, but I don’t openly espouse it. My actions are consistent with my Christian faith at work, and I won’t shy away from mentioning something like, “I can’t do that, because I will be at church”. But I also know the connotations that may be present if I began talking about my faith. Those connotations may bring up hurt with some of my colleagues or employees. It may also distract us from doing what we are being paid to do. So I am careful. I am paid by my employer to perform certain tasks at a certain level of quality. I am not there to prosetylize, argue or offend others. So I am a bit careful. Fortunately Denise works in a faith based company and there is probably more latitude in that environment.
I personally do a lot of filtering of myself at work, especially when there’s a lot of talk of LGBTQ and such. I also filter regarding my personal politics, so in a manner of speaking, I’m holding to the old bartender’s rule, “don’t talk about religion or politics.”
On the flip side, I find my faith makes it easier to take an ethical position, and in the area of quality, that’s huge. Slide one by? Nah. “If we do this, the customer gets hurt”, “if we do this, we get to know lawyers on a professional basis”, and the like. Makes it a lot easier to stand up for what’s right, at least inasmuch as the business is concerned. And from time to time, I get chances to talk about my faith as I get to know coworkers.
Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.
Everyone at work knows I’m a Christian, knows I’m a pastor, and I routinely explicitly interject Christianity into conversations. In WA State. In a State agency. As a civil service manager. Never had a problem, personally. The truth is that nobody really cares. There are many, many opportunities to plant “faith flags” into conversations if you work at it.
- Good example. I was speaking to my boss the other day, an attorney with 30 years experience. He’s a far-left agnostic. I often use politics with him as a segue to discuss the dangerous relationship some flavors of Christianiity have with conservative policies. He enjoys hearing from a Christian who isn’t a Trump supporter—he didn’t know we existed. He mentioned Rachael Dolezal, the former head of the Spokane NAACP, who was infamously outed some years back because she was a white woman pretending to be black. He laughed at this, because of course it’s absurd. I noted that, according to the logic of pop culture, she is well within her rights to claim “blackness.” My boss, a black man, stopped laughing and genuinely pondered those implications. He agreed that it made little sense, and I saw that he understood the force of my subsequent remark about why Christians are skeptical about the claim that gender identity is a psychological construct. He got it.
- Bad example. The other day i was speaking to one of our investigators. She said she was raised Catholic, but has gone to an Episcopalian church her whole adult life. I know where she lives, and asked which church she attended. She couldn’t recall the name, then attempted to save face by admitting “I don’t go every week! I just go often enough to keep myself out of hell!!” We both laughed together. I should have taken the time to interject a quick remark about how church attendance doesn’t = salvation. Instead, I wasted my brief opening by deciding that she clearly doesn’t understand the Gospel if she said that remark. But, the moment passed. I’ll have to circle back at some other time. I blew it.
Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government.
I had the privilege of working for a faith based organization for the last 25 years before I retired. It was not a fundamentalist organization but it was basically evangelical. I was applying for another position within the company and was asked to define myself in three words. I used four; “I am a Christian”. I got little reaction from the young lady from HR interviewing me (although I did not get the new position). Over the next 25 years I had many opportunities to witness both to fellow employees and outside vendors. I worked closely with a woman who was married to another woman. We had many discussions on homosexuality and Christianity. Shortly before I retired we got on a discussion about children. She said she had one daughter and then she added, “she likes boys, thank God”. We were then interrupted and I never had a chance to bring the subject up again with her. I worked with one gay man and three openly gay women. They all knew my stand on homosexuality but it never effected our working relationship. Again I was fortunate to work for a faith based organization.
Richard E Brunt