I work in Community Mental Health. Technically, I am not an employee of the government. But, by proxy, I am employed by a contractor whose major funding source resides at the County level. That County source gets its funding from the State, and the State receives most of its money for this funding from the Federal Government. So you see, essentially, if we want to keep our funding, we submit ourselves to the County’s protocol and policies regarding the manner in which we provide services.
While working for my employer, I am defaulted into a position of being subject to the rule and regulation of Government Policy. This is not all bad. But in many ways, this poses significant obstacles to remaining obedient to the rule which matters most in my life, the rule of Christ.
Fundamentally, as a Social Worker, and an employee, I am hired to provide services to a multitude of individuals with various impediments, illnesses, world-views, and religious affinities. This set of characteristics is also synonymous with my co-workers and peers in the workplace. It is therefore not the environment, the funding source, or the people I serve and work with that raise a concern regarding my faithfulness to Christ and his rule, it is the test to remain obedient to Christ when others would rather you not be.
Principally, my profession requires you to be objective and constructive while employing your skills to assist, educate, and support our clientele and each other. The preferred tool of choice is an education that consists of knowledge from textbooks, clinical experience, world philosophy, and a hodge-podge of psychological/sociological theory.
While I would not throw the baby out with the bath water, as in some nouthetic approaches that staunchly promote the use of “The Bible Only” in counseling, I would err cautiously on the side of using tact. So without staking an empirical claim in either camp, what is then left?
I frequently find myself in the position of asserting the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. More often than not, the prevalence of Christian ideals and philosophy are more pervasive in human services and mental health treatment than one would assume. Even with a professional aversion to religion, specifically Christian religion, it is much easier to talk about the simplicity of what was taught by Jesus Christ.
At the end of the day, the most effective tools one can utilize in helping people who seek assistance from my agency, and by proxy me, is to preach Christ. Even with the adversarial nature of those who would oppose any form of proselytizing in the workplace, I always find myself coming back to the inner struggle with what I was taught professionally versus that which I have been taught by the words of the Lord.
So the safest philosophy to employ whilst preaching Christ and working for the Government is simple. Those who would normally stand against you are often those who scoff and blaspheme the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. At this point, their behavior becomes a qualifier and segue to open, candid, and purposeful discussion about what Jesus actually taught.
My clients, they generally are open and interested in knowing how to become freed from their afflictions, and often initiate discussions of Christ, the Bible, and living as a real disciple.
This leaves one last question to ask then. How closely does the life of the disciple match up with the words of his mouth? Which is more effective in a workplace where you are bound by government policies and hostilities toward your faith? Is it solely your words or is your deeds? Or is it better to ask is my life and doctrine compatible with each other to the extent that it is obvious to all those around me, client and co-worker alike? And ultimately, preaching Christ worth losing my job?
Act 4:19-20 But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, (20) for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”
What do you think? How do you express your faith during the daily grind? Are you able to freely express your faith in the workplace? Do you find it difficult to share Christ with those you interact with? What has been your experience in this realm?