You’d think no one ever had to face a question like this on the job:
- An analyst working at a major corporate headquarters says, “If I eat lunch at Chick-fil-A, I don’t dare mention it when I return to work. They view Chick-fil-A as homophobic, and they’ll report me to HR for creating a hostile work environment.”
- All the managers in one corporate department have placed LGBT “Ally” stickers on their office doors. All but one, that is; the one Christian there, who feels caught. By staying silent, not putting a sticker on his own door, he’s making an unpopular statement — one that could even earn him disciplinary action.
- A manager at another corporation sees his company throwing great public support behind the June LGBT “Pride” month. He feels an ethical urgency to talk to his boss about the Christian view being overlooked — if not outright steamrolled — in the process. His boss is homosexual, by the way.
I didn’t make up these stories. These are friends of mine. At first when the one friend mentioned the Chick-fil-A issue I thought he was exaggerating for effect, but he assured me he was deadly serious.
And not one of these people had ever heard a sermon preached on how to respond to anything like this.
That’s why I asked at the Thinking Christian blog, Is the Church Abandoning Its People in Their Toughest Dilemmas?
It was a two-part post. Part one was to challenge pastors to start equipping their people for real-life work challenges. Part two was to start a conversation on what they could say if they preached on this.
I recommend you go there to read Part One. But I’d like to hear from you on this second part of it. I don’t claim to have it figured out. This is just a start. What would you change or add?
The Preaching Challenge: What to SayPart
ince no two job circumstances are the same, the preacher must preach on principles. And he must be prepared to call his people to make hard decisions. He has to be willing to set the pace in that, if circumstances call for it.
There’s plenty to preach on, anyway. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow to the idol. Daniel refused to eat the king’s food or to give up his daily prayers. Joseph refused to sleep with Potiphar’s wife. All of them got in severe trouble for it: the fiery furnace, the lion’s den, the dungeon. God honored all of them. Yet we also see all of them treating their pagan rulers with great respect, obeying and even serving them to the full extent possible without violating God’s commands.
These examples illustrate a principle: Do everything you can to do your job and live in relationships cooperatively and well. Hold firm to your Christian morals. Don’t raise a stink unless the stink’s already there and justifies it. If you do need to speak up, seek good counsel first so you can proceed with wisdom.
Practical Preaching Points for Job-Related Issues
Suppose you do need to speak up. How should you proceed?
I had this conversation not long ago with the person in the third situation I listed above. There I admitted freely, “I haven’t been in this position. I can’t decide for you what’s best. But I do have some ideas to offer.” Here is some of what we discussed there. This case was very job-related, so I could have mentioned to him my Master’s degree in organizational psychology, too — except he already knew about it.
- Know your stuff. Don’t expect to win over your boss without making a clear case for your position. Be prepared to explain your viewpoint clearly and concisely, both from a biblical point of view (which is important to your own spiritual health) and from a secular perspective (which will be a lot more persuasive to most bosses).
- Don’t go in alone. Get prayer support. Get godly counsel along with it. This will also prevent you from rushing into a conversation prematurely.
- Know what you’re willing to give up, and for what. If your company asks you to do something immoral, or to actively support someone else’s immorality, your choice should be clear: You have to stand for what’s right, even if it costs you your job. It cost Joseph years in a dungeon. He came out far ahead in the end, though, by doing what was right. So no, the manager in the second scenario couldn’t (and didn’t) put an “Ally” sticker on his door. He still has his job.
- Try not to paint your boss into a corner. Try to find a way both sides can win instead. For example, “I know this company values diversity and inclusion, but there’s a perspective being overlooked: the Christian view on morality. I’d like to get a conversation started on this. What’s the best way to proceed?” Few bosses would say no to that. If they do, then you’ve got some hard decisions to make. See number 2.
- Remind your boss of his or her own values: tolerance, listening, diversity, inclusion, and so forth, before launching in to your main topic of discussion. Ask, “Can we have a moment of tolerance and listening to each other here?” Then if the necessary you can remind your boss you were expecting to be heard and respected.
- Make sure your boss knows exactly what you want of him or her. This is good business practice anyway; bosses almost always want to know where you’re heading when you come to them. In this case it can also relieve them of concern that you’re coming with hidden agendas. Come with your agenda, but keep it open and transparent.
- Use questions. Lots of them. Jesus did, especially in adversarial situations. “How can we get a good conversation started on this?” for example.
- Verbalize and normalize negative/interfering emotions. For example: “I can see this is hard. It’s getting awkward. That’s bound to happen in conversations like this isn’t it? So it’s just normal if it happens, as far as I’m concerned, but I’m still convinced we can work through it to a good solution that works for us all. How can we best do that?” It’s a matter first of verbalizing what you or your boss are feeling, then normalizing it by articulating the fact that it’s not unexpected in conversations like these. Then moving back to the topic at hand.
- Be prepared to lose anyway. But remember the Lord still wins.
Peter began to say to him, “See, we have left everything and followed you.”Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel,who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. (Mark 10:28-30)
What would you add to these nine points? Have you been through one of these ethical dilemmas? I’d love to hear from you on it. Thanks.
Adapted by permission from ThinkingChristian.net