Choosing to be different in the workplace
In my early life, God allowed me to work in corporate America. As a young man, I was responsible for 32 tax offices for the biggest national firm in the country. These offices were both corporate and franchise. I was also 20 years younger than most of my peers.
Our annual gathering of managers took place in Kansas City where the headquarters was located. The day hours were filled with training and the rest of the time was populated with eating, drinking and hooking up. For a fairly young Christian that had come out of the hippie culture, this was insightful, challenging and tempting. These executives simply replaced drugs with alcohol, yet the hole in their hearts would never be filled with either.
At the first gathering around the bar, I was faced with a choice. Would I compromise my convictions in order to be received into the group, or would I be willing to endure the coming abuse for being different? After all, how big of a deal is it really? All I needed to do was order a drink at the bar and I’m in. No problems and no questions asked.
As I pondered that decision, it really was not difficult for me to make. I had come out of drugs, immorality and darkness into the kingdom of Light. I would not return even for executive, adult-level peer pressure. I ordered a Coke.
Drinking is not the issue in these thoughts, for the scripture is clear that drunkenness is forbidden, not simply alcohol consumption. I understand opinions vary and that there will be people that hold strong views on all sides of the topic. For me, I ordered a Coke and here is why I would challenge you to consider doing the same even if you are perfectly convinced it is just fine to socially drink.
The issues we face in the working world are not always right and wrong, but they are always life and death. What brings life and what brings death? Could I have ordered a drink? Certainly, I didn’t even have to take a sip, and all could have been avoided. I ordered a Coke instead.
Around me were multiple men that immediately began to mock and ridicule the kid that wouldn’t drink. Alcohol consumption, especially at their speed and amounts, tends to loose the tongue as well as morals. Soon, the laughter died down and a few of the guys started to inquire why I ordered a Coke.
As the conversations turned to my past addictions and my new life in Christ, you could hear a pin drop. I was able to share my testimony because they asked me to give a reason for not drinking like everyone else.
I wish I could say the Spirit fell and everyone started repenting and revival broke out. Of course, that is not what happened. What did happen is that a line was drawn between my behavior and theirs. What I was willing to compromise and what I would not. Yes, a couple of men mocked and laughed at me.
However, a few did not. One later confided in me that he wished he would have ordered a Coke. He was a believer in Jesus, but wanted to fit in. Another began to share his marriage problems and asked if I would be willing to pray for them. A third asked for my phone number to chat more about this topic later.
We have a choice when we work among the darkness. Will we adopt the darkness or will we shine the light of Christ? Drinking a Coke instead of a beer is not a big deal, but by doing so in that crowd, a non-intrusive statement was made—I was different and some wanted to know why.
Perhaps this is some of what Peter meant when he wrote this:
“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).
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Dr. Jeff Klick serves as the senior pastor of Hope Family Fellowship, an age-integrated church he planted in 1993. In addition, he is an instructor with The Institute of Church Management and is on the board of The Council for Gospel Legacy Churches. He has earned a professional designation, CFP, a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Ministry, a Doctorate in Biblical Studies, and a Ph.D. in Pastoral Ministry. Jeff and his bride Leslie have been married more than 42 years and are blessed with three adult children and 13 grandchildren.
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