While visiting family and friends this past Memorial Day, I enjoyed an interesting conversation with a man whose workplace environment is unfavorably disposed toward a Christian worldview. The majority of his co-workers disagree with him on a wide variety of important topics like same-sex marriage, parenting, government, human origin, and much more.
His typical day-to-day interactions with colleagues would be quite intimidating for many Christians. In fact, some of his stories made me squirm a bit uncomfortably. What impressed me though, was how calmly intentional he was about reshaping the thoughts and ideas of those with whom he worked. To his credit, he is well read and knowledgeable on the most influential ideas in American culture today.
I asked him to share a few practical ideas that have worked best for him. Besides prayer and relying on the Holy Spirit’s help, his answers included the following:
1. Stand firm, but don’t get defensive. Proverbs 26:20 says, “Without wood a fire goes out…a quarrel dies down.” (NIV) The people we work with may belligerently prod us with unjust and unkind criticism because of our Judeo-Christian beliefs. When this happens, it says more about them than you. It can be a challenge to accept this and react without defensiveness, but maintaining a calm and polite manner best reflects Christ’s love and, according to my friend, may end any confrontation immediately.
2. Connect with people through common sense. Culture tends to shape most of the ideas people live by today. My friend has built up a handy stockpile of common sense rebuttals to counter the mistaken ways people most often think about what they see and experience. Then respectfully, he presents them in ways that intrigue and influence people to consider changing their views. My friend also reminded me that smiling—not smirking—while speaking eases tension and promotes more openness in conversation.
3. Share stories. People love stories. Jesus was a master storyteller and attracted a large following. He spoke in simple relatable terms. My friend has several real-life and thought-provoking stories that often prompt interesting questions like, “Did the young woman decide immediately after her sonogram not to abort her baby?” Well-told stories have a way of making the complex clear and get a lot accomplished because they help crystallize ideas and vision.
Author and President of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview John Stonestreet wrote in A Practical Guide to Culture,“Culture tends to shape us most deeply by what it presents as normal. We are creatures of cultural habit. Our loves, our longings, our loyalties, and our labors can become products of the liturgies our culture imposes. We live according to them but rarely think through them. Unintentionally, we become culture shaped rather than intentional about shaping culture.”
My friend, for whom I have enormous respect, has both clarity and confidence on matters of faith and morality at his place of work. Shaping culture is his intention. His story is compelling and extremely valuable for anyone who wants to do the same. May God use it to inspire all of us with hope and confidence to champion biblical values and see a more encouraging day in American culture ahead.
Okay, that’s it. Stay awesome in Christ. Work well. Good things are coming!