Tom, Dick and Harry In The Workplace
A Look At The Way We Work Cor Feyter
Tom, Dick and Harry worked for a large organisation, which consisted of several divisions, in turn sub-divided into a number of sections and groups.
Tom was a quiet fellow. He did what was required of him. No more, and no less. He took little interest in his workmates, or in general employee matters. Minded his own business, but apart from that kept in the background. In fact, few people except his immediate colleagues even knew his name. Within the wider organisation he was faceless, anonymous.
One day, Tom's life was tragically cut short by an accident. A couple of days later, his death notice was in the paper. Gone to be with his Lord, it said. Fancy that! Must have been a Christian!
Not many people knew Tom, but everybody knew Dick. Because Dick was a man of strong principles, which he was always ready to share with his work mates. He knew how, as a servant of his Lord, he should live; and his life experiences had shown him the consequences of deviating from that way. Dick was also convinced that his Lord expected him to speak out whenever he noticed anything being done or talked about that was contrary to the Lord's commandments. So whenever Dick picked up anything from his workmates' conversations, whether about social or moral problems, about the way they were living or about their personal or family circumstances, he spoke up to show them what was or had gone wrong, and why and how those problems could be corrected and avoided if people would only turn to the Lord and walk in His ways. Dick applied the same standards to working conditions and environment, and would speak up loudly and clearly, often quoting chapter and verse, if he believed something was not as it should be.
Dick's workmates tended to avoid and ostracize him and often he was ridiculed, but this did not discourage or deter Dick in any way. After all, if the world hated his Lord, wasn't it natural that they would hate him as well ? And Dick remembered the Lord's promise that he would get his reward in heaven (Luke 6 : 23).
Harry was different again. He thought of his place at work in terms of a contract between his employer and him, whereby in return for remuneration, he was expected to perform certain tasks. So Harry made sure to pull his weight at work, if anything, doing more, than what was be expected of him. He was friendly and helpful to others. So, in time, Harry became known as being reliable and considerate, and in that way gained the respect of his colleagues. He did not volunteer his Christian principles and opinions at every possible opportunity, as Dick did, but neither did he try to hide the fact that he was a Christian. He would sometimes, in conversation, drop a line such as : `on our way to church on Sunday---', or : `our minister was talking about that from the pulpit the other day', so everyone knew that he was a church-going man.
Occasionally, Harry became involved in discussions of social or moral issues, and he was then able to state what he believed and as he was respected, so were his convictions. However, those occasions sometimes left Harry disappointed and frustrated, because they often ended in a query such as : `if the Lord is in control of the world and if He is love, why does He allow all the evil and misery and hatred to happen?' Harry himself had long ago learnt to trust His Lord to bring the present world to its conclusion at His time and according to His plan, and believe that everything that happens is part of that plan. But how could he share that trust with his unbelieving work mates? How could he ask them to trust someone they did not know? So, although Harry's earthly boss may not have had much reason to complain about him, Harry often felt that he was a poor ambassador for his heavenly Master.
Many Christians spend their working days in secular occupations. We all know that the Lord rules the world. Everything that happens is part of His plan. That includes everything in the church, on the mission field and in Christian education, but also everything in a secular work place. But we must also acknowledge that Satan is very much at work everywhere; often unchecked in secular environments. So Christians working in such environments can be compared to agents of the Lord, working in enemy-occupied territory. That does not give them a license to simply go underground! Christ told His disciples (including us) that they are the salt, not just of the church or of a Christian community, but of the earth, and to be sure to maintain their flavour, i.e. their influence.
Who Are You At Work?
People who read spy stories will agree that to be an agent in enemy-occupied territory creates special problems. Tom, Dick and Harry each handled those problems in their own way. How do you handle them? You may not fit into any of the Tom, Dick or Harry categories; you may be like a Peter or a Jack, because the way people interact with others is as diverse as their personalities. But you can be sure that your colleagues will not be slow to identify you as Christians (although in Tom's case it was only after his death). Christians, people who carry the name of Christ. When your colleagues see you, do they see Christ in you? Do they see Christ at work in you?