Australia may be an increasingly secular country according to the recent census, but author Kara Martin believes Christians can still practice their faith in the workplace in creative ways.
In her new book, Workship: How to Use Your Work to Worship God, Ms Martin documents stories of Christians who integrate faith into their daily occupations.
“I think the workplace is an amazing opportunity because I certainly believe that Christian values are aligned with what’s going to be effective in a workplace,” Ms Martin told Crosslight.
“If we look at human resources work, if you treat people with respect and dignity because they are made in the image of God, then people will honour that and work well with it.
“In fact, most values of major organisations align well with Christian values – a lot of it is about integrity, honesty and respect.”
While the number of people identifying themselves as Christians has declined, Australia is more religiously diverse than ever before.
Ms Martin believes the increased awareness and acceptance of different religious beliefs in the workplace presents an opportunity for Christians to share their faith without proselytising.
“In England, there’s more of a push for religious tolerance in the workplace by making more allowance for Muslim believers – creating prayer space for them and making sure they have breaks where they can do regular prayers,” she said.
“Christians can see their work as a calling from God and work well and hard to support fellow workers and see the workplace as an opportunity to give people a taste of the kingdom.”
During Ms Martin’s early career as a television reporter, she found her ethical values challenged by the demands of the newsroom environment.
She recalled one instance where she interviewed a mother whose son was killed in a house fire. In a state of grief, the mother revealed information that was captured on camera without her knowledge.
The news director insisted on including the footage in the news story, a stance Ms Martin was uncomfortable with. She decided to resign rather than sacrifice her moral principles.
Ms Martin believes churches and faith leaders can offer guidance and support for young people who encounter ethical challenges in their professional life.
“Often that initial period can be really challenging and that’s where messages from the Church in support of them entering the workforce and encouraging them can be really helpful,” Ms Martin said.
“I think for a young person entering the workplace, it’s very important to have a couple of people you can pray with and work out where you stand and how to respond to some of the issues you come across.
“Also, being informed what the Bible has to say about work is helpful.”
In her book, Ms Martin challenges the idea that missionary work is the only authentic means to perform ‘Christian’ work.
She offers six spiritual disciplines that Christians can practice to worship God through their work – holy working, gospel working, prayerful working, incarnational working, spirit-empowered working and social justice working.
“I know some people who feel really called to ‘everyday, ordinary work’ because they feel that God has strategically placed them in those workplaces,” Ms Martin said.
“There was one woman who said to me ‘I’m just an administrator in a hospital and I didn’t think God was interested in what I do’.
“She read the book and realised God isn’t just interested in what she’s doing, he’s already there around with her. That’s been an encouragement to her and it’s really changed the way she sees work.”
Workship was shortlisted for the 2017 Australian Christian Book of the Year award, which was won by Our Mob, God’s Story. Click here for our review.