It’s a question we all wrestle with, whether we are the customer or the business owner, the teacher or student, the politician or voter. Does faith have a place in the public arena, and how does that look for me and my business? There’s a reason it’s confusing. (And it’s not you!)
As I was thinking about it this week, I remembered a story from years ago, and how it impacted the way I live out my faith in business today.
Many, many moons ago, I went to a clinic for blood tests in the basement lab of a clinic. As I exited the elevator, and turned to head toward the lab, I suddenly felt compelled to talk to a woman who was seated in a nearby waiting area. I didn’t know her and didn’t understand why I would feel the need to talk to her, so proceeded to the lab instead.
After my appointment, as the door closed behind me, I felt strongly compelled to talk with that woman again. I decided that if the seat beside the woman would be vacant, I would sit and talk with her. As I rounded the corner, I noticed all the waiting room seats were full, including the one beside her.
I sighed relief. As I approached the elevator, the man seated beside her got up and left. There it was, and empty seat right beside this woman, just as I had reasoned. I sat down beside her, bewildered about why I was even there. I turned to look at her, and she dropped the bomb.
“I just found out I can’t have any more babies.”
She went on to explain that she had a child, but having another would be impossible. She was deeply sad – grieving! – that she would never have another. It was a deep pain I could understand well. I had also received the news that, two and a half years after my first child, I would not be able to have more. It was devastating news to a mama who thought she was just getting started with her family. I wanted five children. It was heartbreaking, and I had to mourn the loss of a life I would never have. I didn’t know exactly how she felt – we all have different expectations and circumstances – but I could sure understand the pain.
Beyond the pain, she also felt guilty for feeling sad. “I know I should appreciate the one I have…”
“You do.” I reassured her, “Just because you’re grieving doesn’t mean you’re not grateful.”
She became quiet, and let the words sink in. Then she nodded and turned to me with glistening eyes, “Yeah. You’re right. I do!” She seemed relieved – freed to grieve without guilt. To share that common experience and encourage her in her sorrow was clearly the reason I was meant to sit beside her.
On the drive home, I thought about our encounter and realized that living out my faith is quite simple. It doesn’t necessarily require speaking Jesus’ name in every statement or to every person. It’s speaking love and truth and life into people’s life that is relevant. Seeing an unmet need and making an effort to meet that need. It’s that simple.
The beautiful thing about faith though, is that it’s not a formula or set of rules. It’s relationship, so it’s different for each person. A person has a different relationship with their spouse than with their children, and each of those is different from the relationships with friends or their insurance broker. Each relationship will look different, have different expectations and even customized vocabulary or behaviors.
For me, I’ve understood my path in business is to simply meet a need and cultivate relationship– to love and live out the character and principles that come from walking in the Spirit. For others, living faith may be a more obvious or out-loud kind of path. I think the important thing to remember is that we are each responsible for ourselves in front of God, and can’t pass judgment on each other’s paths.
Faith is just that personal, and God is way more brilliant and mysterious than to use all people in the same way.
Do you wonder how living out faith in business should look for you? What’s one way you live out your faith at work?