For those of us not in the ministry, work is the place we spend the largest amount of time each week. It therefore presents a great opportunity to display Biblical Christianity. Nowhere in Scripture is the life of a Christian in the world better exemplified than Genesis 39. In this portion of Scripture we find Joseph, who had been sold by his brothers into slavery, serving in Potiphar’s house. If we fast-forward to Genesis 41, we find this very same man is now the second in command in Egypt, wearing the Pharaoh’s ring, married to the Pharaoh’s daughter! His “success story” was no accident; it was not the product of luck. I believe the first six verses of Genesis 39 are a microcosm of Joseph’s life and hold the key to Joseph’s success.
While many books could be written about Joseph’s life, I believe a few important “steps” were the key to his success while working in the world. These steps are something from which every Christian can learn.
Genesis 39:1-2 “And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither. And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.”
Don’t Hide Your Light
I’m going to start, rather than end, with the disclaimer. I am not advocating being a “closet Christian” or hiding your light under a bushel – not even for a day. However, experience has taught me that our Christian witness is often much more effective and powerful when exhibited over a period of time. People can question “religious” words, but they find it much more difficult to discredit true Christian living. Joseph was purchased by Potiphar. For some period of time, Joseph was “in the house of his master.” It was during this time that Joseph continued to live his life for God, just as if he were still at home.
Be an Exemplary Employee
The first step to secular success is to live your Christianity every single day at work. Be the best employee in every way possible. Show up on time. Work hard. Be absolutely honest. If you are wronged by someone, turn the other cheek. Don’t aim to be popular, aim to be profitable. Every boss I have ever had has taken notice of employees that excel. Remember to do your work “to the glory of God.”
Look for opportunities to talk about the Lord and church. Don’t tell people you can’t come to the barbeque on Sunday “because you’re busy.” Tell them you will be at church. Love your fellow employees. When you see or hear they have a heartache, ask them about it, tell them you will pray for them, and actually pray for them. Follow-up telling them that you’ve prayed and asking how the situation turned out. Over time, your co-workers and bosses will not only know something is different, they will know what is different.
Testimony Is Elevated
Genesis 39:3 “And his master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand.”
You Are on the Stand
The secular world calls it “reputation.” Most Christians refer to it as “testimony.” I much prefer the latter. Think about the word. The definition includes: 1) affirmation, declaration; 2) open attestation, profession; 3) witness, evidence, proof of some fact. For a Christian, each day presents an opportunity to help or hurt the cause of Christ – to build the case for Christianity. To put this differently, and in paraphrase of a devotion written by Oswald Chambers, the honor of Jesus Christ is at stake every day of your life. If you profess the name of Christ at your workplace, people will start collecting evidence; they may even interrogate you.
You Are NOT Testifying on Your Own Behalf
We often forget the purpose of our life. What do you see as the end goal of your secular work? It is not to obtain a comfortable life. Though important, it is not ultimately about providing for your family. The purpose for everything you do in life should be to bring glory to God. Imagine that you were on the stand testifying on behalf of a loved one who was accused of a serious felony, who was believed by many to be guilty, who you knew to be innocent. How careful would you be with your words? How careful would you be with your life the days before and after testifying if you knew the “accusers” were watching your every move to discredit your testimony? If we were all this careful when it came to our testimony on behalf of Christ, the world would have a much different view of us and Him.
You ARE in Control of Your Testimony
Nowhere is our Christian testimony more “on trial” than in the workplace. But just like a witness on the stand, you are completely in control of the testimony you put forth, and you must tell the truth. You’ve heard the euphemisms – “A testimony takes a lifetime to build and a moment to destroy.” It’s true! If you live your life every day to please Christ, you might not be the most popular person with your co-workers, but you will gain their respect. They will “see that the Lord is with you.” And, I can tell you from experience, your boss will also be pleased. Your testimony, influence, and opportunities will continue to expand.