The Workplace as a Mission Base
Spreading God’s word in the secular business world
By Elie Rizk
When I went to university, I wanted to excel – to achieve the best education, the best career, and the best job position. With my university training behind me, I thought I was ready to take on the business world. But I soon discovered that the transition from university to work wasn’t as simple as I had expected it. During college years, I always used to be in my own comfort zone, having the freedom to choose, among many other things, the people I wanted to spend my time with, the activities I want to engage in, the discussions I want to take part of. Living in a household with other Christian men was one of the choices I made that helped reinforce the life I had chosen to live, a life of discipleship and submission to the Lord Jesus. In a way, I was able to build around me a shell that would protect me from the world and many of the things that might compromise my decision to follow Jesus Christ.
After graduating from university in July 2007, I continued on in household and started working with a professional service firm. I suddenly found myself in a very competitive and somewhat hostile environment that seemed to be governed more by the law of the jungle, where survival remained for the fittest, and for the one with utmost dedication to his job and to the firm’s growth. I had heard a lot about the challenges one might face at work and thought I was prepared for it; that was before I started experiencing it! I realized then that it is a whole new system I had to adapt to and I started to experience the many changes that would impact many areas of my life.
Although my job has many advantages, the challenges facing me were all I could see. In a success-driven culture where profit and material wealth matter the most, everything revolves around one’s self, and one's capabilities in contributing to the firm's growth. It is a culture which exalts the creature and forgets about the Creator. During peak season, which usually extends from November till June, known as the “high season”, I was often required to work more than 12 hours a day. Not only was this physically distressing for me, but it also prevented me from attending various community-related meetings and services. I also had to skip many household dinners and common activities. Seeing how this job was affecting my community life, thoughts came to my mind about quitting the job, because I was afraid of gradually being absorbed into the secular society surrounding me most of the day and becoming conformed to it.
in my everyday tasks
An open door
During the past year, the strong relationships I was able to build with many of my coworkers made me aware of their unfulfilled needs and the challenges they were facing. From my experience, I know that only the gospel’s truth can fulfill those areas in their lives. This led me to proclaim the “good news” to them, what it means to me, and how it has changed my life. If it seems appropriate, I invite them to a household dinner or a prayer meeting. One of the colleagues I had invited to dinner with us in the household was touched when he saw the life we were living, the way we related to one another and the love we showed him. After attending a prayer meeting, he started seriously thinking about God’s place in his life and making more room for him. In addition to that, we started having conversations during lunch breaks at work which were personally deep and meaningful for him. Household and community are the “fortress” from which I received the strength and support needed to face all the challenges at work and be a witness to Jesus Christ. It is in the personal relationship I have built with him and my presence in the midst of a community of disciples that the Lord equips me with the spiritual weapons needed to fight the good fight of the faith and accomplish my mission.
Even though my work may sometimes seem to me quite meaningless, as Philip
Yancey depicts it in his book Rumors of another World, I realize
in the end that my career and profession are part of my calling. All the
opportunities God has been giving me to proclaim his kingdom – by deed
and word – so that others might come to know Christ have been clear signs
to me about how I can serve him in my workplace and give him glory in all
that I do.
publishing address: Park Royal Business Centre, 9-17 Park Royal Road, Suite 108, London NW10 7LQ, United Kingdom