The Christian in the Engineering Workplace
This article has been prompted by numerous problems I have had working with other employees who are Christians. In extreme cases,
their faith spills over into the workplace, interfering with the day-to-day execution of their job and the jobs of others around them.
I feel I have a unique perspective on this issue, because I am an Engineer as well as a Christian myself. I have written this article
to Christians and the non-Christians alike. To the Christian, it contains guidelines for acceptable conduct. To the non-Christian
manager, it contains some suggestions that will help you deal with problem situations. If you feel overwhelmed, threatened by, or
offended by the Christians - this article is also for you! Hopefully I can give you some valuable tips that will allow you to
effectively deal with your Christian employee, without getting drawn into issues of faith you would rather avoid.
In dealing with a sensitive topic like this, I feel I must state my qualifications up front, especially to Christian workers who
will question my "spiritual authority" over them.
- As an Engineer ---
- I have over 20 years of experience in the industry, and am a manager of a small team containing both Christians and
non-Christians. I have many successful design projects under my belt, as well as successful products over which I supervised.
- As a Christian (using terminology that Christians will recognize) ---
- I was saved and baptised in the Holy Spirit over 25 years ago. My salvation is based on the blood atonement of Jesus
Christ on the cross as payment for my sin. Since that time, I have been a member of several churches depending on my location and
growth as a believer. I have a regular quiet time and study the Bible daily. I have served the Lord within the church as Sunday
School teacher in the the youth and children's departments. I have served Him outside of the church through radio, through decency
organizations, through pro-life organizations, and have even taken young people into my home to give them an opportunity at a
The Engineering Workplace
The Christian in the United States is presented with a dilemma with which they are not prepared, in many cases, to understand. The
United States is a nation founded by people who put freedom of religion and freedom of speech as two of the founding principles of
the nation. The Christian's faith commands them to "go forth and make disciples" of the entire world, and chides them if they "hide
their light under a basket". They come into the workplace, in many cases, thinking of it as a "mission field", full of "lost souls"
who need the "saving grace of Jesus Christ", or their co-workers will go to hell - a fate that must be avoided at any cost. I fully
believe in all of that myself, yet have the maturity to temper my natural inclination with the realities of the workplace.
The reality of the workplace is that it is an environment focused narrowly on the accomplishment of tasks to produce a profit for
the employer. The Christian must work as a member of a team, which consists of individuals who were carefully chosen for their
ability to contribute to the task - not their spiritual beliefs. In order for the team to function effectively, all members must be
able to communicate and work together in a mutally respectful fashion. The Christian, in many cases, has built a support group around
members of his or her church - the members of which were selected for the spirituality. The only time the Christian may encouter
people of different faiths and beliefs is on the job. Their family is Christian. Friends outside of work are all like-minded
Christians. Their work in the church is Christian, and they are rewarded for the depth of their devotion. They may view with
suspicion people of other faiths on the job - if they get too close, they could "slip back into worldly habits". There may well be a
certain detachment between them and people they perceive to be worldly.
Tips for the non-Christian manager:
Just as you do not desire for the Christian to spread their faith at work, you must be careful not to do things that they
perceive as you spreading yours! Christians will interpret certain things as an attempt to "convert" them to worldliness. The
following things, in particular, must be avoided:
Tips for the Christian Worker:
- Do not involve Christians in social situations involving alcoholic beverages, smoking, and bars. The characteristics in
Christians that you perceive to be negative can come to the forefront very quickly in environments that are alien to them. Be
particulaly careful when you have to take customers or important outsiders to such places. The Christian, in many cases, will be
silently grateful if you omit them from such occasions. If they must come along for compelling business reasons, always default to
non-smoking sections of restaurants, not offering them alcohol, and taking your important guests to establishments that do not
feature questionable entertainment such as nudity.
- Do not solicit the Christian employees for lottery pools, or football pools. They believe that gambling in any form is "sin",
and may eventually become quite vocal about it. A little time editing down a global email list to exclude Christians is time well
- Do not solicit charitable donations from your Christian employees. Christians may even object to the United Way, based on some of
the organizations they support. Offer Christian alternatives, as well as alternatives favorable to other faiths - such as Islam. Any
member of a faith will be glad to consult with you about alternatives acceptable to their faith.
- Do not insist that Christian employees attend "diversity training" to accept alternative lifestyles. They will never accept
alternative lifestyles as "normal" - their faith prohibits this. Instead, focus on finding common ground between the individuals,
such as common interests in scientific disciplines, common membership in professional organizations, common University backgrounds
or sporting team interests. The diversity differences may fade rapidly in importance, as it becomes obvious that that particular
issue is only a small part of the individuals involved.
- Do not attempt to include the Christian in off-color jokes or discussions of female (or male) sexuality. These are of little
interest to the Christian. I have seen attempts made by non-Christian individuals to "evangelize" a Christian with this
conversation that rival anything the Christians do with "The Four Spritual Laws" books. Don't add fuel to their zeal by trying to
- Watch your language. Terms like "god-damn" "christ - this/that" are offensive to the Christian faith. This type of language
can also be interpreted as an attempt to intimidate Christians. I have been in more than one meeting where a Christian believer
actually spoke up vocally about this language. Females, in particular, are likely to react. With legal litigation the way it is
today, it is only a matter of time before a case goes to court and is decided in favor of Christians on this issue. You do not
want to go there. You are an intelligent individual, or you would not be a manager. The English language is full of words and
metaphors that do not have to denigrate someone's faith. I encourage you to utilize alternative language.
- When business luncheons come up, take the initiative in suggesting fine dining establishments close by work. Politely request
non-smoking sections. Politely order water or soft drinks when orders are taken - do not criticize others who order alcohol. There
is a special case, however, when you must speak up. If a co-worker or boss is obviously intoxicated and is the one driving - offer
your services as a "designated driver". Make the offer as forcefully as the level of intoxication requires - friends don't let
friends drive drunk. It is not necessary to preach about it. The need to drink responsibly is well known by non-Christians. If the
individual refuses to drive and you perceive a real danger - you can always call a cab for yourself and other concerned co-workers.
- If you find yourself in a bad establishment, call yourself a cab. Do it quietly and leave without fanfare. Your absence will
send a strong signal to your co-workers that you do not wish to participate in such entertainment in the future.
- If you are solicited for gambling, politely refuse on each occasion. Do not send emails presenting your Christian beliefs about
gambling. I have been guilty of this - it never produces the right result. Consider it just so much more email spam to be deleted
un-read. Do not preach to individuals who come around to your work station soliciting lottery pools and football pools. "Just Say
No"! In offensive cases, you can always voice an opposition to gambling without mentioning faith.
- If you are solicited for charitable donations, simply refuse - unless careful research on your part, combined with the dictates of
your conscience, says it is OK. Remember that there is a mindset that Christians are supposed to be generous with charitable
donations. Turning down United Way is not going to be popular. You can, however, always contribute to a ministry you believe in on
behalf of your employer. They may not be in agreement with this and not recognize the contribution, but you have the freedom to do
so. Make your contributions generously, and when somebody solicits donations for objectionable causes, simply state that you have
contributed to a different organization that more closely matches your conscience.
- If you are subjected to mandatory courses that contain material that violates your beliefs - you can always meditate on things of
God during the seminar. It is always a good idea to hide God's Word in your heart. Seminars of this type are a good opportunity to
see how well you have done. Objectionable material that dishonors Christ is not important. The devil is a liar - do not hear his
words. If interaction is required during the course - go through the motions. Non-listen politely, without preaching to a hostile
instructor and audience - do your time, then leave. Put it on your list as having been completed, and go on with your life. It
cannot be any worse than having to see a little kid's movie that you have no interest in seeing, just ignore it. Life consists
largely of boredom - this is just one of those times to go and be bored with the foolishness.
- If you encounter a bad conversation - involving jokes or sexual comments not appropriate in a professional environment - do not
laugh. Do not join it. Leave the conversation. Your absence is your witness that the conversation should not be happening on work
- If you are subjected to bad language, ignore it. If you can, walk out of meetings that degenerate to that level - no professional
business is being transacted at that point. You can politely ask that such terms not be used, but you may well suffer persecution as
But What About Witnessing?
This chapter is written to the Christian ---
As a Christian employee, you must realize that you have entered a business environment where your freedom of religion and freedom
of speech may be curtailed in the interest of conducting business. By accepting a salary, you accept the authority of your employer
to command you to do certain things, and not do others. Slavery and indentured servanthood has not been in your experience, but I
encourage you to read Ephesians where it talks about such relationships. You are a servant to a master, and must behave according to
scriputural principles regarding this relationship. In other words - you have some homework to do!!!
The following is my opinion on this matter, based on years in the industry, years in the faith, and much prayer:
Almost universally, an employer will regard witnessing as a negative activity. This includes verbal, email, and otherwise. You
must assume that witnessing is not appropriate on the job, unless told otherwise by your employer. Witnessing, from an employer's
perspective, is a time consuming, non-productive activity that creates divisiveness within a team. You must respect that perspective
and refrain from witnessing. Keep it out of your conversations, and out of your emails. This is instruction from the Lord through
me, to you the reader. Ignore it at your own peril!
Questions and Answers
- But what about the leading of the Holy Spirit? He told me to write that email / talk to that person?
- NO, HE DID NOT!!! And I will tell you why. Jesus Christ, through His Holy Spirit, will never ask you to do something that is in
violation of His Word. The authority of your employer, as your master, is an absolute. You must do what your master commands, or be
out of the will of the Lord. Period - end of discussion.
- What about witnessing on lunch hour and breaks?
- If and ONLY IF the other person specifically asks you to share your faith. Then, in the time-constraints of the break or lunch
hour, you may share your faith. But when the break or lunch hour is over, SO ARE YOU!!! Take the conversation off-line - away from
earshot of others. Do not get loud in the hope that others will hear and also get saved. Be aware that some employers do not
consider lunch and breaks to be "your time". If so, be silent during those times as well.
- But - these people are going to hell and don't realize it!
- Yes, they are. But YOU are not the man God is sending. Remember, God does not send people to hell. Satan does not. People
freely choose to go. God gave them that gift - the gift of free will. This was at the suggestion of satan before the throne of God,
who asked the question "Does Job serve you because he wants to, or because he HAS to?" This may be the only honest statement ever
made by satan. God feels so strongly about the issue of free will that he gave His creation the opportunity to say "NO" to His love.
Who are you to force the issue at an inappropriate time? God knows the need of that co-worker. He absolutely WILL SEND the right
person, at the appropriate time, to witness to them. But it is not you. Not on work time. Maybe not even on breaks or lunch.
Respect their right to say "NO" to God. God does. Leave the selection of the right man up to God.
- But what about their rampant sin, it is affecting me!
- Their sin will not affect you. God will never allow you to be tempted beyond your ability to resist. I find that the worst
offenders of inappropriate workplace witnessing are young believers - those who are still weak in their own faith. The ones who are
insecure. If fall into that category, you don't need to be witnessing to anybody on or off the job! Become a mature, strong
believer. Then you are fit to be used. God does not need you out there turning people off to the faith because of your bungling.
Remembers Peter's failure! I am not talking about the cock crowing three times. Peter did not even realize he was supposed to be
sent to the gentiles. He was preaching only to the Jews. Jesus himself had to send him a dream to show him what he was supposed to
be doing. Jesus is just sending you a web page. Heed it. Co-workers are off-limits, find who you SHOULD be talking to and GO DO IT!
Diversity in the work place serves your master's needs. That person who believes very differently from you may well contribute more
to the master than you do. You have much to learn professionally from them. Learn it so you, too, can benefit your master. Ignore
their foolish sin, but learn their professional wisdom. You will earn not only your employer's praise, but theirs as well. If a
friendship develops, you may someday earn the right for your faith to be heard. But that may or may not happen.
- I have won a lot of people through witnessing. It must be right on the job. You can't tell me otherwise, you are satan trying to
- There is the better way to witness - one heart at a time. The steadfast faithfulness of the powerful, God-fearing man produces
fruit that the lost can see. I tell you truthfully, one God-fearing man, who makes sincere friendships that are totally free of
strings, will bear more fruit than a thousand wagging tongues with no love, no depth behind them. There is a simple story of the wind
and the sun - and a boy with a coat. The wind tried to blow the coat off, but the boy clutched the coat tightly. The sun shone
warmly, and the boy took his coat off. So it will be with the defenses of the sinner. Earn the right to be heard - be the most
sincere friend to the sinner and the best of employees - and the defenses will drop. Preach about homosexuality, adultery, drinking,
and sexual sin and the sinner will clutch their defenses tightly. Remember, everybody is deluged with advertising. They are sick of
it. They have defenses erected against it. You are just one more annoying advertisement to them for a product they don't want. Get
away from the instant gratification mentality "I am going to pick-up a burger at the drive through and witness to a dozen people on my
lunch hour". It doesn't work that way. Where is the love? Where is the follow up? People will spot you a mile off and run the other
way. And they will run to their supervisor and complain about you. How does THAT honor the name of Christ?
- What about Christian radio? Can I witness with that?
- Christian radio is a great tool to bless the believer. As a professional broadcaster as well as engineer, I can tell you it is
not reaching the masses of non-believers. It is ineffective, because the programming is targeted at Christians, not
non-believers. Therefore, if radio is allowed at your work, keep the volume low where other people cannot hear it, and be prepared to
receive all the blessings it offers. If it interferes with your work, however, you must not listen. If it prompts you to cross the
boundary and send out emails, talk to people about the Lord on company time, because of something you have heard - do not listen.
People don't want to hear it, and I can guarantee it will not bear the right fruit. Remember you are a servant to a master - one that
wants to make a profit, not one that wants people converted to Christ. You voluntarily entered the relationship, as you can
voluntarily leave. As long as you are under the master's authority - that authority supercedes your freedom to witness. God will
NEVER ask you to turn up a preacher, a song, or recount a sermon note in a company email. He does not violate the principles
of servant and master that He set forth in His word. You should not, either.
- What about Christian art and clothing. Can I witness with that?
- There is appropriate business environment and dress. The company can dictate, within limits, how you dress and decorate your work
area. This works to your advantage, because most companies no longer allow inappropriate calendars which violate sexual
harrassment guidelines. If Christian art is allowed, it should be tasteful and non-threatening. I personally have a framed program
from a Christmas pageant in my work station. It is colorful, tasteful and reasonable in size. I also have other art that is not
related to my faith. If I were to hang several large posters that have large lettering that say - "accept Jesus or go to hell - you
degenerate pagan!", obviously it would be obnxious, insulting, in poor taste, and not bear any fruit. If it is a private reminder of
God's goodness in your life, then it is probably OK. If it is an attempt to intimidate, then your motivation is questionable.
- What about reading the Bible at work?
- If you are reading on free time - your break and lunch hour, then it is OK. If you are reading instead of doing your work, you
are an unfaithful servant who deserves to be terminated.
Suggestions to Supervisors
If you have a "problem Christian", one who wastes time witnessing to co-workers - and other team members are complaining, you need
to deal with it. But the problem is "how", especially with a Christian who is otherwise a good contributer. Without spending a lot
of time in the Bible - how do you know what makes this individual tick, and how can you eliminate the problem behavior? This is the
section for you!
- The Christian should respond favorably to the concept of authority. YOU are authority that they are commanded to obey, or be in
rebellion to their Lord. USE YOUR AUTHORITY fairly and impartially to point out that their behavior is wasting time and creating
- Be sure to emphasize that while you respect their faith, their duty to you and the company is to contribute to the bottom line of
the company, not produce converts on company time. If they insist on producing converts, remind them that they are to persue this
activity in a respectful manner, only to persons receptive to it, and only on their own time. It is laudable for them to want to help
people, but that is not their job. If they persist in wasting time, it can only detract from their job performance.
- You should no more allow offensive Christian dress and art than you allow sexually harassing calendars. Ask them to balance the
work environment and dress to be functional, in good taste, and non-threatening to others that hold different beliefs.
- If the radio is played at excessive volume, suggest headphones. If it interferes with work (Christians are notorious for slipping
in cassettes of preachers - and focusing attention on them) - suggest music instead of talk stations. How well can you concentrate on
your job when Howard Stern is on? The financial advisor? The sports game? It is the same with them and their preaching tapes.
Music is a much better choice for complementing work. In extreme cases, ask them to remove the radio - just as you would any other
- Be aware of any other church related activity that might interfere, such as reading the Bible on work time, performing
volunteer work on work time, etc. Their work time belongs to YOU, not their church. You have a right to insist that they shelve such
activities until they are on their own time.
- If you catch them witnessing their faith on company time, apply whatever principle you use to other conversations - such as sports
conversations. Do not allow it to continue, however, if the other person is squirming uncomfortably - like they want to get away. I
would be polite but firm in suggesting that another time would be more appropriate.
- If things really get out of hand, you can always tell them that their behavior is "a bad witness to you" of their faith. If you
had to judge the validity of their faith by their behavior, you would have to say that it is not real. This is a powerful tool that
should produce the correct reaction on their part. If the "bad witness" button does not work with them, then you are faced with a
real problem person that might not be a sincere member of their faith. That insecurity probably translates to every other area of
their life - tread carefully because they are a ticking bomb. I would get rid of them for the sake of the team.