Objective: To consider in our evangelism strategies how job competence and how we treat others determine our ability to bring Jesus to others at work.
Meeting Needs and Effective Evangelism
Like people, fish are attracted by the things that meet their needs. The specifics vary with every fish species and the time of year. Hiding places, water temperature, food supply, current or lack of it, and competition with other species determine fish location.
God designed animals to spend no unnecessary energy. That increases the chance they’ll successfully reproduce after their kind.
God’s wisdom principles are programmed into His creatures.
All fish seek living space that increases their chances of getting a meal. Some gather around rocks, aquatic vegetation, and fallen trees. Some fishermen use this trait by planting objects underwater in marked spots. They later return to these areas to fish.
A recent development in freshwater fishing is using artificial weeds to attract fish. Ice fishermen drill holes in the ice in a circle around where they’re fishing. They lower these artificial weeds to the bottom through these holes. Within minutes fish begin to gather.
Most fish feed selectively. For instance, sharks aren’t big on pineapple or green beans! During a fishing trip for bluefish on the Chesapeake Bay, the captain chummed with chopped-up fish continually while the boat was anchored in one spot. It took 30 minutes for us to attract and catch the first bluefish, but the action was steady for the rest of our trip.
“But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising to God.
But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this?” (2 Corinthians 2:14-16 NLT)?
Spreading the sweet smell of Christ isn’t automatic. We must rely on God’s grace to live like a believer. Our influence for Christ at work is either positive or negative. If our words, attitudes, and actions repel our co-workers, they won’t care about our spiritual convictions.
Condemning, judgmental, “I’m OK, but you’re not” behavior won’t make us fruitful. It drives others away and turns them against us and our faith. The opposite is also true. The challenge is to pass on the sweet smell of the undeserved favor God has poured out upon us.
Being a Friend and Effective Evangelism
Attracting people to ourselves is vital, but it isn’t the goal. We’re ultimately seeking to lead them to Jesus. How do we attract people to ourselves? Outgoing people do it naturally without much conscious effort, but it isn’t automatic for the introverted.
The best way for introverts to make friends is to be friends. When opportunities to serve our co-workers arise, we should ask what a friend would do and do it. God can use us to spread His sweet-smelling fragrance in the workplace.
The Jesus who lives in us must live through us by the Holy Spirit. We can’t reach everyone. Some won’t like our personality or our Christ! Some will like us but won’t follow our Jesus.
After I shared the gospel with a man, he said, “you’re telling me that if I don’t believe the way you do, I’m going to hell! [Pause] I still like you!”
Maybe that’s because I visited him and his wife regularly and took him fishing. People probably won't like our Jesus if they don’t like us first. Some will be drawn toward Him when Jesus lives His life through us!
How does Paul describe this flow through life in the following verse?
“My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20 NLT).
Doing Your Job Well and Effective Evangelism
God planted us where we work to share our faith and bring Jesus to our co-workers. Life isn’t about money, worldly influence, or the “toys” we accumulate. It’s about letting the light of Jesus shine through us. Jesus said, “In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father” (Matthew 5:16 NLT).
It’s got to be a full-time light. If it shines part-time like motion-detecting lights on a house, others will focus on when it’s off and see hypocrisy. When we focus on competence, integrity, and caring, we let Jesus live His life through us at work.
All these characteristics are true of Him. God designed a church of 100 to be the word made flesh in 100 different places simultaneously. Are we doing our part?
We bring Jesus to our co-workers by doing our work well, just as He did! The furniture from His carpenter shop was of the highest quality. I’d love to have an original Jesus stool, wouldn’t you?
He was the same master craftsman, whether working with wood, human needs, or speaking the world into existence. “They were completely amazed and repeatedly said, “Everything he does is wonderful....” (Mark 7:37 NLT).
Laziness leads us to try to reap the most significant rewards (salary, benefits, vacation, sick leave, etc.) with the least possible effort. Some of us are energy-challenged!
The Bible says, “Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise! Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work, they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter.” (Proverbs 6:6-8 NLT).
Albert (not his real name) was a summer helper for the Pennsylvania Fish Commission in the early 1970s. During his stint with the PFC, he was never commended for doing anything well! One day he was with a PFC biologist named Roger (not his real name), electrofishing a small stream.
Albert and Roger had a net in one hand and an electrode in the other. When AC is passed through water, it stuns fish between the electrodes. Both electrodes must be in the stream, or the electrical current won’t flow. With incredible frustration one day, Roger told Albert, “Albert, between us, we have one net and one electrode in the water -- and I’m holding both of them!” If, in the early 1970s, Albert had a faith to talk about, who would listen?
For others to value what we say, they must respect us. That respect is closely connected to how well we do our job. Paul wrote, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward and that the Master you are serving is Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24 NLT).
How do these verses motivate competence? When we do our work well once (to please the Lord), we get paid twice! If we don’t do our job well, we might soon not be paid at all.
Guarding Your Integrity and Effective Evangelism
Competence isn’t enough. Corporate executives at Tyco and Enron had competence but not integrity. They mismanaged corporate funds for their benefit. Integrity is the set of rails that keep us on track in the darkness of “no one will ever know,” far from the daylight of over-the-shoulder supervision.
It’s not only executives that experience integrity failure. Every work situation carries its temptations to cut corners for personal gain.
Those representing Jesus in the workplace can’t afford to take unethical shortcuts. Both God and co-workers are watching. Therefore, may it never be that someone could identify our employer by examining our house's pens or other office supplies.
Do we call in sick when we’re not? Socialize excessively or waste time on the job. Pad expense accounts.
Spend time on social media or the internet unconnected to the performance of our job. Do personal business during work hours. Work fewer hours than we should. Or pull strings to get ahead.
Maybe most of us have a bit of confession to attend to right now! Spend a moment silently reflecting on your integrity. Confess to God any lapses, along with a commitment to represent Him better at work. His promise is, “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness" (1 John 1:9 NLT).
Those with integrity give 100 percent daily at work, no matter what others do. They’re trustworthy. Over the long haul, they outperform those more gifted but with less integrity.
Justice catches up with liars, thieves, and cheats, if not in this life, in the next. Sooner or later, their train goes off the tracks.
Demonstrating Caring and Effective Evangelism
We lead co-workers toward Christ by first attracting them to our way of life. That means playing the music of a life in tune with a loving, caring God. An ounce of demonstrating Christ's love and kindness is worth a ton of explanation. Forgiving those who’ve offended us isn’t a standard operating procedure in the world, and the Amish got headlines for it following the Nickel Mines shootings.
Helping co-workers in a pinch produces in them a lasting sense of gratitude. Speaking encouraging words to one with whom we compete for a promotion raises eyebrows. When our words, attitudes, and actions help meet our co-workers' needs, some will move toward us relationally.
They'll move even closer when we go out of our way to show we care. We help co-workers feel competent, significant, valued, and loved by living out the biblical principle to “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39 NLT).
Impact requires closeness. People might respect our competence and integrity. But our caring opens their hearts' doors to us.
My Aunt Elizabeth never married. She frequently visited us on weekends and often brought us candy. She was a skilled seamstress who worked at an upscale clothing store in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, called Mary Sachs.
My brothers and I never doubted her integrity. Nevertheless, apart from her candy, her effect on us was minimal.
In 1956 when Elizabeth was 64, a year from retirement, my mother died at 37 after complications from an operation, leaving five of us boys behind. Elizabeth quit her job immediately and moved into our home to help care for us (ages 1, 5, 7, 7, and 13).
Over the next 23 years, her influence on us was profound. Closeness impacts far more than candy! What does this say about giving material things compared to giving our time and energy to meet someone’s needs?
Closeness to God impacts our spiritual maturity, how effectively we evangelize, and our effectiveness as church leaders. Ensure you know the basics of spiritual growth, make disciples, and lead as God intended with these resources.
ABC of Christian Growth helps you grow up spiritually and help others do the same.
Church Assimilation Strategy helps move visitors toward membership.
Discipleship Books Free Download equips church members and church leaders.
Spiritual Health Assessment does a CT scan of your spiritual life.
ABC of Evangelism prepares you to build healthy relationships with those you are reaching for Jesus Christ.