Spiritual Maturity in the Workplace: Shine Brightly
You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven. -Matthew 5:14-16, NIV
Dr. Barry Corey, in his book Love Kindness, writes that Christians ought to have a “firm center, and soft edges.” Strong in our convictions, and kind in our interactions with others. Too often, Dr. Corey believes, we get so focused on those convictions that we sacrifice our love for people. Then our pride actually pushes the very people we ought to be shining for into darkness.
During Biola University's Torrey Orientation in 2011, our leaders had a similar theme: Love and truth must be held in tension. Love without truth is enabling enslavement, while truth without love are dangerous words of venom.
Knowing that such a weighty and specific call is upon our shoulders, where and how can this be lived out in our daily lives?
Each of us have a community; people to shine with. I have my family nucleus, and friends given to me throughout my formative years. The number increased exponentially in college and then slowed when I started working.
When I joined the workforce, I began to experience environments where I felt could not shine. Where it was unacceptable to converse openly about convictions and dreams. I was given sarcastic nicknames in exchange for my kindness. For years I fought this, and let the anger fester inside. I nostalgically dreamed about the years I spent in like minded programs and the acceptance I felt there.
Until Dr. Barry Corey’s book smacked me upside the head.
He spends pages talking about how Christians ought to be receivable. How our kindness, or shining brightly, is still kindness even when it is rebuffed. According to Dr. Corey, the only thing that is damaged is our pride when these painful interactions occur. As a prideful person, this was difficult to swallow.
The time I’ve spent at Christian educational institutions taught me that my vocation is the avenue through which I can shine brightly for God’s kingdom. This is 100% true, but my missing piece was, “Kindness is one-way goodness, and sometimes kindness receives no thank-you or acknowledgment or returned favor.” -Love Kindness, Pg. 182.
We can shine with our personal community; our church and family. This is beautiful, but we’re not always going to have people to shine with. We are salt of the Earth, and we are sent out to humbly shine for others.
Every day, we participate in a spiritual battle. For me, the battleground is a cubicle in an office. I have to decide when to share and when to listen. I have to decide what to internalize, and what to let slide off my back. This is not totally unlike the world I came from. But here, the scaffolding of professionalism lacking a strong moral framework buckle under the weight of so many different opinions.
These choices are not compromising to my convictions. As long as the truth of who I am and Who loves me rules my heart, I will be able to be receivable. And I will shine. It will not always feel amazing, and I will still yearn for the safe places where that identity was formed. But this is my purpose. This is our purpose, wherever your battleground is.
“Let it be our hope and prayer that from this place shall radiate streams of influence which will be a great blessing not only to the multitudes around us, but also to the darkest places of the earth.” -Lyman Stewart, Biola University, Co-Founder