David L. Goetsch
Help for Christian Women on the Job Who Don’t Fit In: Being Different is a Blessing(Jeremiah 5:21)
My new book co-authored with Karen Moore, Christian Women on the Job: Excelling at Work without Compromising Your Faith, was released on February 11th by Fidelis Books, an imprint of Post Hill Press. One of the problems we delve into in our book is the challenge Christian women face of feeling out of place around their unbelieving coworkers. Many Christian women feel as if they don’t fit in at work. Being a believer does make you different from some of your coworkers which, in turn, can make you feel out of place. But our message to Christian women is this: be glad you are different—it’s a blessing.
Christians who work outside the home—women and men—are often confronted by their differentness. I have been many times. A fellow college professor once called me “unsophisticated” and “naïve” because of my Christian beliefs. He asked me, “How can an educated person believe in the virgin birth, a man rising from the dead, miracles, or heaven and hell?” This colleague was a brilliant man in worldly terms, but when it came to the things that really matter, he had no eyes to see and no ears to hear (Jeremiah 5:21). In the Gospel of Luke, we are told that God hid his truth from worldly intellectuals but revealed it to those who came to Him like innocent children. In Luke, we read that worldly people view the truth of God as foolishness because they cannot understand it. They do not have eyes to see or ears to hear. They look but do not see, listen but do not hear (Luke 8:10). This makes them different from Christians and vice-versa.
I have always found it ironic that unbelievers don’t reject subject matter they cannot understand that comes from outside of their areas of expertise. They don’t believe their inability to understand the subject matter in other fields invalidates its authenticity or veracity. Take Calculus for example. Although few people understand Calculus, they accept the truth of its principles and theorems nonetheless. They do not reject or even doubt the veracity of Calculus simply because the subject matter is beyond their grasp. But these same people are quick to reject the Word of God when they don’t understand it. This is foolishness of the worst kind, and you are going to see it exhibited over and over in the workplace.
The fact that otherwise intelligent individuals would presume to reject the God who created the universe is mind boggling. Nevertheless, there are plenty of people out there who, because they have no eyes to see or ears to hear, reject God and His word. They are presumptuous enough to think that when what is set forth in Scripture makes no sense to them, it must be wrong. In their minds, the Bible must be wrong because they don’t understand it or they disagree with it. Worse yet are those who know the Bible is true but still reject it because they don’t want to live according to its standards.
This kind of attitude is hubris in the extreme. What is lacking in these misguided individuals is neither knowledge nor intelligence. It is faith. Those who reject God because they don’t understand his Word or they disagree with it are guilty of the sin of self-worship. They are willing to set themselves up as little gods. In so doing, they feel empowered to believe that anything they do not understand or agree with must be wrong. From the perspective of Scripture, these people lack eyes to see and ears to hear. You will probably work with people who have no eyes to see or ears to hear when it comes to faith in God. In my experience, there are plenty of these individuals in the workplace.
Expect to work with the kind of people referred to in Luke. The lives of those who reject God revolve around a self-centered worldview that does not comport with much of what you believe. You will work with people who do not see what you see, know what you know, or believe what you believe. Worse yet, in their ignorance they will often assume an air of superiority and look down their noses at you and your most cherished beliefs with disdain. This has happened to me many times over the course of my career. It will probably happen to you too if it hasn’t already.
BE GLAD YOU ARE DIFFERENT—IT IS A BLESSING
I have made it clear that your faith will make you different than many of your coworkers. The values taught in Scripture and the values of contemporary society are so different you are bound to feel out of place at times. My advice to Christian women who struggle with their differentness on the job is this: Don’t despair over differences relating to your faith. Embrace how being a Christian makes you different and be glad of it. Think of the words in Matthew 10:32 where Christ says that anyone who acknowledges Him before others, He will acknowledge before the angels of God. He goes on to say that anyone who refuses to acknowledge Him will, as a result, not be acknowledged.
In the long run, few things will do more to advance your career than your faith in Christ and your adherence to His example. Think about it. If you haven’t already, you are almost certain at some point in your career to observe coworkers ruining their lives by behaving in ways that are at odds with the teachings of Scripture. Expect to be different at work, and be glad you are. Being different in Christ can protect you from the pitfalls of greed, lust, self-centeredness, envy, jealousy, anger, the thirst for power, status seeking, ego, misguided ambition, and the other moral failings that so often wreak havoc on careers and lives.
Being different from those who reject Christ will help you excel in your career in the long run because it makes you the type of individual employers cry out for in today’s hyper-competitive workplace. Your Christian work ethic, honesty, integrity, dependability, and commitment to excellence—Scriptural principles that make you different from many of your unbelieving coworkers—can also make you an indispensable asset to your employer. This is the good news. The bad news is that these same traits will sometimes put you at odds with unbelieving coworkers, particularly those who are willing to use unethical means to climb the career ladder or who have a slothful work ethic. Because of your faith, you will sometimes feel out of place among your coworkers; count on it.
Further, it is almost certain that coworkers who don’t share your values will occasionally tempt, encourage, or even pressure you to do things that would compromise your faith. They may even become angry or vindictive if you refuse to go along with their sinful schemes. We read about this kind of thing in John 15:18-19 where Christ warns that people are going to hate His followers because they first hated Him. Consequently, when you are tempted or pressured to act inappropriately, rather than trying to fit in, stand firm in your faith knowing it is better to suffer in the short run for doing what is right than to suffer in eternity for doing what is wrong.
If you would like to read a more in-depth treatment of this subject and others that confront women of faith in the workplace, my co-author Karen Moore and I recommend our new book to you: Christian Women on the Job: Excelling at Work without Compromising Your Faith. It is now available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, and most other booksellers.
Dr. Goetsch is the author of Christian Women on the Job: Excelling at Work without Compromising Your Faith, Fidelis Books, an imprint of Post Hill Press and Christians on the Job: Winning at Work Without Compromising Your Faith, Salem Books, an imprint of Regnery Publishing, 2019: www.david-goetsch.com