In the never-ending struggle for truth, justice, and Kingdom-thinking, I am constantly on the lookout for God’s heroes in the workplace. These men and women understand that their work matters to God and see themselves as a Kingdom outpost of God’s grace everyday of the week. They are not just serious about their faith on Sunday, but Monday through Saturday as well. My search this time led me to a cab driver.
In a recent weekly email devotion from my friend Patrick Lafferty, he told the story of Mosab Hassan Yousef, who was following in his father’s footsteps. His father, Sheikh Hassan Yousef, is a founder of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. After the son was arrested by the Israelis, however, he agreed to work for the Shin Bet Israeli security service. But something extraordinary happened to Mosab Yousef in the course of an ordinary day in an ordinary place. He met a British cab driver.
Unbeknownst to Yousef, when he stepped into the cab, he stepped onto holy ground. You see, the taxi driver was an agent of the Kingdom of God. He gave Yousef a copy of the New Testament and invited him to a small group Bible study. Reading Jesus’ story for the first time, Yousef was “drawn to the grace, love, and humility that Jesus talked about” and in time, embraced Christ as his savior.
You can read more about Yousef’s amazing story in a Wall Street Journal Online posting. But while this sensational conversion tempts us to focus on the terrorist-turned-follower of Jesus, the real story is about an unnamed taxi driver who took his faith to work and walked through an open door with the gospel. It’s a pretty sure bet he wasn’t pushy or aggressive with the “son of Hamas.” I imagine he started a casual conversation like cab drivers do, and because he was spiritually alert, he saw an opportunity to talk about Jesus and he took it.
Your workplace is holy ground as well. There might be people there who Christ is drawing to himself. And you might just be one link in the chain of people who help them come to Christ. That is, if you are spiritually alert.
For more information about how you can take your faith to work click here.
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Do you know how influential you really are?
Every day, in everything we say and do, we are influencing people spiritually, either helping them move toward or away from a relationship with Christ.
A person’s journey toward Christ is not one giant leap but many small steps of faith influenced by an average of 16 people, individual links in a chain of spiritual influence.
Becoming a spiritually influential person isn’t about convincing people to pray a prayer of faith in Christ. It’s about intentionally joining the Holy Spirit’s work, respectfully helping them take one more step toward Christ, whether they are at the beginning, in the middle, or at the culmination of their spiritual journey.
Every interaction you have with people counts for eternity. You may be the next link in someone’s chain. You don’t have to be the entire chain. Just don’t be the missing link.
Who are you helping move toward Christ? Remember everything counts.
In this blog I’ll address the fourth Big Idea that can change the way we do church.
Big Idea Four: Being a person of spiritual influence is every Christian’s calling, not just the responsibility of a gifted few. The greatest communication success story in human history is how the gospel message spread across the Mediterranean world. Followers of Jesus grew from a few hundred on the day of Pentecost to more than six million people by the end of the second century. That’s an amazing number, considering the only media were word-of-mouth encounters and hand-written letters.
The evangelists of the first century were the nameless thousands of men and women who followed Jesus without fanfare or notoriety. Even the Apostles were quite ordinary men. Before they were biblical heroes, they were someone’s neighbor just trying to make a living. They were street-level men with a noble mission that moved them beyond their fears and beyond themselves. Yet while their efforts were important, more important was the attitude of ordinary Christians, who recognized that sharing the message of Jesus was everyone’s mission. The gospel spread like wildfire from house to house (the workplace of the day) as men and women personally gossiped the gospel to friends, relatives, acquaintances, colleagues, masters, slaves, students, teachers, customers, shop owners, and fellow soldiers in their everyday networks.
Because ordinary men and women lived out and then shared the gospel with their colleagues, customers, and clients in their workplace, the early church grew as it did. If men and women in the workplace today seize the spiritual opportunities they have and work together to have an impact for Jesus, who knows what extraordinary things God will do with the ordinary workplace moments they give to Him.
These four Big Ideas are discussed in detail in Going Public with Your Faith. To order a copy click here.
4 Comments »
- Hi Bill, you recently picked up on a blog post I made about workplace witness. Thank you for connecting. Over the past few years I’ve been trying to develop principles and ideas that make evangelism more achievable for the non-evangelist, much of which connects with the principles in your book.
Here in the UK, the workplace is often undervalued and misunderstood when it comes to reaching and influencing people for the kingdom. Thank you for your insights and the help they are in developing the process of change that needs to happen if we are going to make the most of the larger part of most people’s waking hours.
Comment by Richard — February 11, 2008 @ 3:09 am
- Richard, I didn’t realize you were from the UK. I’m sure you are aware of the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity and Mark Greene. I met with them last year when I was in London. Also, you may want to connect with the Christian Medical Fellowship (http://www.cmf.org.uk/). Kevin Vaughan there teaches a course for medical professionals entitled The Saline Solution which I co-authored and formed the basis of Going Public. Kevin is very “keen” on these ideas and a good friend.Comment by Bill Peel — February 11, 2008 @ 8:28 pm
- BillWonderful piece. I used it to springboard to a piece called “What’s my excuse” found over at
It’s amazing that God used such ordinary people to spread the first century message. I wonder what is holding us back from a similiar success today?
Thanks for your heart and your ministry
Comment by David Rupert — April 2, 2008 @ 12:07 pm
- “ordinary Christians… recognized that sharing the message of Jesus was everyone’s mission.” In my job I study what makes word of mouth campaigns effective. People have to believe in the message. Really believe it. Enough that they can’t help but talk about it.Sometimes I wonder how many of us Christians really believe this stuff in our guts. And I’m including myself in that.Comment by Mark Goodyear — April 3, 2008 @ 9:29 am
My proposition is simple: when we forget the importance of the workplace in God’s plans, the cause of Christ suffers. We believe that this is both biblically and historically true. However, all over the world men and women are beginning to understand how tactically significant the workplace is to God’s Kingdom plans. When the church calls its people to focus inward (on the church organization), it shrinks. On the other hand, when the church launches people into the world and honors their calling to the workplace, the church grows. We think that it’s time for men and women in the workplace to fulfill their destiny as the leaders that God called them to be.
That’s why Walt Larimore and I wrote Going Public with Your Faith. In this ground breaking book, we propose four radical ideas that could change the way people think about work and evangelism.
Big Idea One: The workplace is the most strategic place of Kingdom influence for most Christians.
Big Idea Two: Evangelism is a process, not an event.
Big Idea Three: Our job in evangelism is to discover where God is already at work in people’s lives and join him there.
Big Idea Four: Being a person of spiritual influence is every Christian’s calling, not just the responsibility of a gifted few.
In the next few blogs I’ll speak to each idea breifly.
These four Big Ideas are discussed in detail in Going Public with Your Faith. To order a copy click here.
5 Comments »
- Amen! I look forward to this series, and may have to add this book to my reading list. Thanks!Dan King
Comment by Dan King — January 4, 2008 @ 11:08 am
- Dan, I think you’ll like Going Public unless you are a gifted evangelist–they sometime balk at these concepts. God has gifted some people to get right to the specifics of the message (about 12% of the church according to Barna have the gift of evangelism). That leaves the rest of us to figure out how we are to share our faith. Fortunately the Bible is not silent. John 4:35-38, Matthew 13 and other passages all teach that evangelism is s process. Going Public is not just about being biblical, it’s also about what’s appropriate in a given situation, specifically the workplace. And here is the big principle here: If we want people to pay attention to our faith, we first better pay attention to our work.Comment by Bill Peel — January 4, 2008 @ 12:30 pm
- I agree with Dan. This is a great book, and it will be good to have this promo. I was looking at the video curriculum and I wondered if you had posted any preview clips on YouTube. That might be a good thing for bloggers to embed…Comment by Mark Goodyear — January 8, 2008 @ 3:27 pm
- Great thoughts Bill. Thanks.Comment by Daniel D — January 10, 2008 @ 4:59 pm
- I just wanted to point out again that I appreciate you doing this series! It has been good to follow!I also wanted to let you know that I have selected you to get the Thinking Blogger Award.
Thanks! Keep up the great work!
Comment by Dan King — February 5, 2008 @ 2:45 pm
Appearing as a guest on MSNBC’s Scarborough Country recently, Bill Maher launched the most recent attack on people of faith suggesting that we have a neurosis that stops people from thinking. He said, “I love America. I am just embarrassed that it has been taken over by people like evangelicals, by people who do not believe in science and rationality. It is the 21st century. And I will tell you, my friend. The future does not belong to the evangelicals.”
Although his views about religion aren’t held by most Americans, we’re experiencing an escalation of negative rhetoric. Rather than dwelling on ideas, more and more individuals with platforms like Maher’s resort to a barrage of belittling comments about the intelligence of people of faith. While we shouldn’t retreat from such frontal attacks, most of us don’t engage in daily debates with the men and women with whom we work. Many of them, however, will have heard or read Maher’s comments. Do they agree with him? If they don’t have evidence to the contrary they might.
Do you think the men and women in your workplace who know you have enough evidence to make them think twice about buying Maher’s diatribe? I hope they do, because we can be sure that this line of attack will continue. In fact it’s never stopped since the serpent suggest to Eve that she was misled by her faith in God. The question of whether Maher and his tribe increase has much more to do with your life and character at work than you might imagine. Are you a person of competence and intergrity? Do you show your intelligence by giving thoughtful answers or are you parroting talking points? Do people trust you? Do people know you care about them? This line of evidence has more power than reversing the attack on Maher. That’s why I co-authored Going Public with Your Faith, to help you know how to build spiritual influence in your workplace.
Beyond our competence and character, we do need to be able to give thoughtful, respectful answers to men and women’s honest questions about our faith. Dr. Tim Keller of Manhattan’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church has provided some of the most thoughtful answers to the critics’ challenges to the Christian faith in a serious of messages entitled The Trouble with Christianity. Keller has seen Redeemer grow to several thousand smart, savvy New Yorkers over the last decade. That should be testimony enough to suggest that he knows how to intelligently answer the tough questions we get thrown at us about our faith. You can find this series for download at the Redeemer website. After listening you’ll know how uninteligent Maher’s comments really are.
I just read an email devotional that posed the following dilemma.
“A chaplain for a major league baseball team lost his position and was publicly excoriated for nodding his head affirmatively in answer to a question from a ball player. The question? Do people who don’t accept Jesus Christ end up in Hell?
“The media reported it, the team owner suspended the chaplain and apologized profusely to the public; and major league baseball wrung its hands and pledged to re-visit the idea of chaplaincy in baseball.
“How should the chaplain have answered that question?”
The writer of the devotional proposed that we answer with Jesus’ words not ours. In other words: All I have to go on is what Jesus said himself, “No one comes to to Father but through me.”
Good answer in my book. But an answer is not always the best way to answer a question. As Jesus shows us, often a question is better than an answer, especially in a “politically charged” situation. I’m not suggesting that we evade the issue, but rather make sure we understand what the first questioner is really asking and why is he/she asking it. Another reason is that questions often make people think for themselves. Quick answers often polarize people in their shallow thinking.
How would I have answered that question? I would have first asked, “What do you think?” and then responded from there. Ultimately I would have tried to get back to the issue, but formulated it in a different way. I really like how C.S. Lewis framed this issue. He said that ultimately there are two types of people in the world: those who say to God, “Thy will be done” and those to whom God says, “Thy will be done.” The real question is who is Jesus. If he is God as he says he is, then that’s really the question. If you believe that he is, then you’ve answered your own question, because he did say, “I am the way the truth and the life and no one come to the Father except through me.”
To read more about this kind of “Socratic” evangelism see chapter 11 in Going Public with Your Faith.