Can we make a difference to people at work? Sowing seeds…
Some Christians have the impression that the really important things happen in church meetings and everything else is second rate. But Jesus showed the opposite by the way He lived and ministered. The first sign John records is turning water into wine at a wedding. Much of His teaching was in the context of meals. Jesus often went to where people were working and engaged with them in ordinary contexts. He taught about being salt and light in the world, not hiding away from it.
Of course it is true that we can only “build with silver and gold” (1 Cor 3:10-15) if we are led by the Holy Spirit and what we do is birthed in prayer. But who said that this could only happen in a church meeting? We can be just as spiritual in the workplace – and we need to be, if we are to be obedient to that call to be salt and light.
Last Sunday Ps Steve preached on the Power of a Seed. We sow the seed … and then leave it in God’s hands as we water it in prayer and He calls out a harvest.Each day we have an opportunity to sow seed. Maybe not a clear explanation of the gospel in words, but we can sow seeds of hope and faith, with a little reference here and there to how we live or a mention of what we did over the weekend or dropping into a conversation how people in our church have gven some help to homeless people. The possibilities are endless.
Last week was my last week of ‘ordinary’ or ‘secular’ work. I have known for 35 years that, like all of us, I am called by God to be a really good family member to those close (a husband and father in my case of course) and also called to be a really diligent employee as well as called to be a really supportive member of the church. Like all of us, I am called to be willing to serve in each context. I have always seen it as a spiritual calling, whether at home, at work or with the church. Each day we have an opportunity to sow seed through what we do and what we say (or do not say) but it is often only when leaving a workplace that we have a chance to find out how others see us and whether the seed is growing at all.
This first came home to me may years ago when I moved on from one workplace and was feeling that I had not been able to be much of “a good witness” to Jesus. I was so encouraged when the receptionist told me on my last day “The cleaners will really miss you – you are the only manager who will ever stop to talk with them!” Whatever I had not said, whatever opportunities I had missed, at least people knew that a Christian is someone who will show some interest in, and express gratitude to, anyone regardless of where they are in the hierarchy. That was sowing a little seed.
As I left an ordinary work environment for the last time last week I had the encouragement of seeing how some seed had fallen on good ground. One person spoke of how I seemed calm and peaceful even when things were difficult and made the connection with my faith. Another said they try to “dig up the dirt” when someone leaves but they couldn’t find any! I don’t want to show off but mention these things in the hope they are an encouragement to others: sometimes it is not even what we say but who we are by God’s grace that matters.
Then at the leaving ‘do’ when my own team went for a walk up the Wrekin followed by a curry in Shifnal I had a chance to sow some more seed. We gave one of the Egg The City boxes of eggs for everyone who was there as people started to go. One of my team opened it and read out the gospel message in a way that meant half of the party could hear. Who knows what the long term effects will be? What I do know is that every time we mention, very naturally and openly, something of what is important to us, a seed is sown; and if we water it in prayer God will take care of the rest.