As many of you know, I work in a deli. I would like to tell you a story about a young high school girl I work with. We will call her Emma.
Emma goes to church (sometimes), attends a youth group, and just recently took off a week of work to go on a missions trip. She is not overly outspoken about her faith and its definition, but does often mention that she is “hanging out with her friends from youth group” or “needs to leave a little early today because we are having a missions trip meeting.” She is a nice person, dresses modestly, and doesn’t swear. So what is the point?
Simply this: Emma is one of our worst sandwich girls. She is incredibly slow and almost always does a sloppy job. She mixes up customer’s orders, burns sandwiches, and runs out of food. She has been reprimanded many times and has a growing number of restrictions being put upon her. The most recent is that she is no longer allowed to answer the phone (because she simply cannot be trusted to accurately take down orders), which is usually supposed to be the sandwich girl’s top priority.
Why am I telling you this? Because this young girl professes to be a Christian. All of the other sandwich girls know Emma and talk to Emma. They know she goes to church and is even committed enough to go on missions trips and hang out regularly at youth group. But they all hate her! None of them like her. She is lazy and causes them extra work. They collectively groan if they hear Emma is working that day and make many jokes about her behind her back.
It has been on my mind a lot lately that Emma, whether she knows it or not, is being a witness to these girls. The problem is that she is being a bad witness!
The Bible commands us to “do our work as heartily unto the Lord” and urges us to do “whatever our hand finds to do, do it with all your might.” We are told that fruits of the spirit include patience and faithfulness. We are commanded to be the ambassadors of Christ.
None of Emma’s co-workers want to be like her. None of them. And all of them know that Emma claims to be a Christian.
Please do not be like Emma. Please do not be the person at work that no one likes to see show up and everyone loves to see go home. Rather, be the person that outworks everyone else. Be the one who is always cheerful, who never talks behind backs, who is always part of the solution and never the problem. Be the employee the boss loves to employ. Be every supervisor’s dream.
I have had many opportunities to witness to people at my work because of these types of things. I do not claim to be God’s gift to the work force, but I do believe in working hard and I do believe in giving all the glory to God. Lately, though, my witness has been tarnished. My co-workers are wondering if maybe I am simply a fluke, that the fact I work hard and stay cheerful is just my personality and has nothing to do with this God I talk about.
For those of you who don’t work, the same principles apply. Don’t be the person at small groups always causing controversy. When there is a get-together at church, be the first to volunteer to stay late and help clean up. When you take the kids out to the restaurant, pleasantly surprise the restaurant employees by keeping your children under control. Speak pleasantly to people in line at the grocery store.
You never know when God will give you an opportunity to publicly praise His name. Don’t ruin your chances before hand because you are having a bad day and don’t think snapping on a few strangers is really going to matter.
Remember, we are called to be the light of the world. And we can not do this when we are offending the people around us. 1st Peter 3:17 “For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.” If the people at work don’t like you, let it be because you work so hard that you make them look bad. If the servers at the restaurant don’t like you, let it be because they are jealous that you have your kids under such great control.
We are always around people, people who are watching to see just what is a Christian, really. And people always remember the bad longer than they remember the good. Don’t let the name of Jesus be tarnished because of us.
Take the example of my mom. I love her and she is a much wiser woman than me. I remember one day, we were driving down the road and the person in front of us was really an idiot. She clearly did not know how do drive, how to read road (including speed) signs, and was swerving around her lane a lot. We did not feel safe. After only a moment of driving behind her, my mom and I noticed that she had one of those fish on the back of her car. My mom sighed and said that this was the reason she would never get one of those fish on her car. She was afraid that one day she wouldn’t be paying attention, that she would cut someone off, or get angry, or run a red light, and that someone would see it and see the fish and associate it with Christianity and ultimately with Jesus. And she decided that the small fun of having a fish on the back of her car was too much of a risk of possibly (inadvertently) defaming the name of her Lord. And so she has no fish.
Let us decide today to put aside our pride and our hurry and instead be mindful of the fact that we are ambassadors of our Lord. And let us boldly and proudly declare His gracious work in our lives.