When I graduated from college in 1986 I immediately went to work with Youth for Christ. I had seven wonderful years of ministry working with troubled youth in detention centers and on the streets of several small cities in Illinois, USA. Ultimately, we learned that I was more equipped in the management of ministry than in the actual street level ministry itself. I ended up leaving the day-to-day person to person ministry to experts like my friends Rod and Jan at Higher Up Ministries. (see my post on their ministry from march 18th – “Don’t Muzzle an Ox when he treads the grain”)
Since I left full-time ministry in 1992 I have worked in 6 companies and 8 office environments. I guess that I have had well over 150 office companions over these last 18 years. I have worked in places that employed tens of thousands of people and places that had only a few hundred. I had jobs were we wore blue jeans and t-shirts every day and others where I wore a suit and tie every day. I have worked in a car manufacturing plant and the executive offices of a multi-national company with billions in revenue. Hopefully, in all those environments I have been the same guy.
Recently, I have been thinking much about who I am when I am at work. This spring I have read the book “The Measure of a Man” by Gene A. Getz twice. The first time I read with the other elders of our church. The second time I am reading it with my newly formed men’s group. It is a fine book for creating discussions on how it is to be a man of God in this world. It helps us ask and answer the question “Do I measure up to God’s standard for how a man should live?”
This week I read chapter six again – Making God’s Truth Attractive. It’s an exposition on one word from the list that Paul gave Timothy for choosing leaders.
1 Timothy 3:1 – 7 (NIV)
1Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer,[a] he desires a noble task. 2Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. 5(If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) 6He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. 7He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.
This particular chapter focuses on the word respectable from the second verse. The word is translated a few different ways in various Bible translations:
- NIV & NASB “respectable”
- KJV “of good behavior”
- NLT “have a good reputation”
- ASV ”orderly”
- Young’s Literal Translation “decent”
The actual Greet word is κόσμιος the same word we get the word cosmetics from. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of the New Testament ascribes the definition “to Adorn”. Strong’s Concordance ascribes the definition “appropriate” or “orderly”
Using all these words and translations we get to the idea that a man of God is: respectable, of good behavior, having a good reputation, orderly, decent and appropriate. They are all good things.
The point of the chapter was to say that sure, “we are all those things at Church or when we are with other men of the church, but how are we seen when we are at work?” This is the challenge that has been peaking my thoughts these last weeks. I have been asking myself “How do my coworkers see me?’ “Do they know I am different?” “Do they know that I am a Christian?” “If they know I am a Christian, am I making a good example or a bad example?”
I am challenged by those questions. Challenged because I am one of the guys at work. I have the same conversations at the coffee machine as the other guys. I talk about the same things. I criticize the same projects, the same people and the same attitudes. I judge others and I share the latest rumor or gossip. I need to do better at the office. I need to make the truth attractive.
Paul has some teachings for me on this subject:
Ephesians 4:1, 17; 5:1 –2, 6 -9, 15 – 17 (NLT)
1Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God.
17 With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused.
1 Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. 2 Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.
6 Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him. 7 Don’t participate in the things these people do. 8 For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! 9 For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.
15 So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. 16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. 17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.
1 Thessalonians 4:11 – 12 (NLT)
11 Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. 12 Then people who are not Christians will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others.
I have come to the decision that I must improve on making the truth attractive at work. I need to be a man of God at work who is respectable, of good behavior, having a good reputation, orderly, decent and appropriate.
How are you doing at making the truth attractive in your environments away from church?