Workplace Evangelization: 3 Ways to Shock Your Co-Workers

September 22, 2011 by  
Filed under Conversion, Culture, Work

It’s a tough time to be Catholic in the workplace.

However, with hardship always comes opportunity. Although some are critical of the Church’s consistent teaching on faith and morals, others are discovering the depth and beauty of Catholicism every day. At the same time, workplace regulations and policies designed to treat all people with justice can sometimes have the effect of treating them as commodities.

People are not commodities.

So here’s where we as Catholics can shine: we are all called to evangelize, to sanctify our work, and to follow legitimate authority, including in our workplaces. Is this even possible? I think so – it may shock some of your co-workers, but here are just three ways we can evangelize effectively. All three are consistent with our faith, and can also help us to be more effective in our daily work:

1. Listen more, talk less – by taking the focus off ourselves and putting it on others. Take a sincere interest in co-workers by asking questions. Be gracious to everyone, even if they’re low on the org chart or a pain in the neck. How about stopping to ask how the janitor is doing and saying thank you? Paying a sincere compliment to the boorish co-worker, and asking if everything is going OK? Perhaps the most difficult – how about saying nothing (rather than retaliating) in response to a sarcastic comment?

2. Be grateful – by thanking people up, down and sideways in the organization. There’s no danger of people feeling over-appreciated. We’re called to place our trust in God rather than people, and to express gratitude to him all the time, not just when things are going well. Thanking co-workers is great practice, and can enrich our prayers of gratitude to God. For all kinds of stuff… like even having a job. Many people don’t.

3. Gossip in reverse – speak positively about others when they’re not around. Try this radical move – if you’re married, speak positively about your spouse. Not a common workplace occurrence, unfortunately. Yet as Catholics, we recognize marriage as a sacrament, and a tremendous source of grace. If you’re not married, speak positively about co-workers behind their backs. It’s a powerful tool to build morale and increase trust. If you really want to provoke astonishment, say something nice about the boss!

We don’t need to “proselytize” or beat anyone over the head with a bible to evangelize people at work. It might be shocking to our co-workers, but all we really need to do is act like good Catholics. The “gift of self” the Church speaks of repeatedly is perhaps the most effective tool we have available to both help our co-workers in practical terms, and draw them towards Christ.

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10 Responses to “Workplace Evangelization: 3 Ways to Shock Your Co-Workers”
  1. Brad says:

    May God bless you!

    This is fine, don’t get me wrong. But unless you do all of these things overtly in Christ’s name, when asked, or even prior to being asked, and not hide even one ray of light under a basket, the people around you will merely, in today’s world, assume you are a “nice person”, which is codeword for humanist, gnostic, buddhist, arian, etc. We now live in a world where pablum is the norm: karma, pay it forward, Oprah-isms.

    The One, meaning specifically the Lamb, the Second Person, must be proclaimed as the one who gives us the grace to do any kind act as well as the one for whom that kind act is done: the Word who does the will of the father and does not return void. But this, Christ, is a circular movement that is foreign to most in our country, which is now a “mission nation”.

    • Kevin says:

      Brad, thanks for your comment! I understand where you’re coming from, and agree completely that we shouldn’t “hide even one ray of light.” Well said.

      My point (perhaps not made as well as I would have liked) is that the light rays shine more brightly when we walk the talk first. Our words are so much more effective when spoken to people with whom we have developed a positive relationship. You’re quite right, we need to go far beyond merely being nice – although sometimes even that is a challenge!

      God bless you, thanks so much for visiting.

    • Pete Ascosi says:

      Brad, well said… It so true. Evangelization is more than being nice. With that said, Kevin, great article about pre-evangelization, and beginning with the witness of our lives.

      I think we need to begin to have an evangelical aim in social situations whether at work, taking our kids to the playground, or shopping.

      When I’m with my 2 yr old at the playground I try to meet other kids and parents. Its the first step in conversation evangelism.

      How wonderful it is to see and hear about Catholics emerging as evangelists.

      I remember surprising a Presbyterian girl once on the beach, as I handed out “God is Love” cards to people. We had a nice discussion about having a relationship with Jesus, and me being Catholic.

      God is good!

  2. Kevin says:

    Kevin,

    Thanks for this post. It reminded me of several duties I have as a Catholic and additionally that our actions can and do affect others greatly.

  3. Michele Mulholland France says:

    There was a time in this great country – not so very long ago – when being Roman Catholic meant you wouldn’t get the job. You were last hired/first fired. You were mistrusted as “the other”. Jewish? Muslim? They have their own problems.

    I consider it a gift to go to work and not have to address anyone’s religious beliefs – or lack there of. Yes, I like atheists and secular humanists too.

    I appreciate the intent of this piece, and whole heartedly agree with the good common sense. But for the love of God and all that is holy, keep your well intentioned evangelization out of the workplace. Enough already. Treat each other with respect and let us get our work done without worrying about offending you. If you really, really, really feel the Spirit burn, take your fever and visit a nursing home.

    • Kevin says:

      Michelle, thanks very much for your comment, it appears that we both have strong feelings about the subject matter. I appreciate you taking the time to express your thoughts.

  4. Janet says:

    Kevin,
    Very nice piece of writing.

    Being nice is the very first step to beginning a relationship with a fellow human being. My mom always said you gather more flies with honey than with honey.

    And remember, when people report Mother Mary coming to them, she always leads with a smile.

    However I have a small issue with the wordage, “Be gracious to everyone, even if they’re low on the org chart or a pain in the neck. How about stopping to ask how the janitor is doing and saying thank you?” (Now I’ll admit it is a petty one.)

    The first adjustment that we as Christians need to make is that there is no low on the org chart. Or at least we don’t have the key to it. It seems that you assume you are better than the janitor (or similar positions) when it is phrased like that. That sort of sticks in my craw. The “little” people are important to any organization functioning correctly. And in this economy, that janitor could have a PHD.

    Too often I have seen good Church people leave it at the door after Mass. Too often I have seen members of my parish treat the cashiers at my work like less than humans. That’s sad.

    Plus how do expect anybody to listen to what you have to say about important (but sometimes touchy) issues, when they gleam from you that you have ranked them as lower than you?

    Nice does not equal weak. Always be kind. Jesus was.

    Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. God Bless.

    • Kevin says:

      Janet, thanks for keeping me honest! You have described, very directly, exactly what I meant by the “low on the org chart” comment. We all have equal dignity and value before God, that’s precisely the point I was attempting to make (not as effectively as I would have liked, obviously…)

      I have seen people at all levels of an organization treat others at different levels badly, presume they understand inner motives, etc. As you say, that’s sad. Thanks for visiting, and taking the time to write your thoughtful comment!

      • Janet says:

        Kevin,
        You did an amazing job of writing this. I am probably just a bit oversensitive on this ranking subject. 🙂

        When you work in a place where employees are targets for the bad behavior of the general public, you notice the lows and the highs in the pecking order. When you work with people who are so amazing, but are snubbed, you feel the need to remind people of their worth.

        God Bless

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