On the 10th of February 2018 I had the privilege of sharing my thoughts on ‘Faith in the Workplace’ with Fenchurch Professionals – a Christian professional network based in London. It is a subject close to my heart because my faith is the basis of all I do. All the hope, all the passion and all the effort are because of what my faith teaches me.
I centred my talk on 10 key words that tell the story of the key drivers of Faith in the Workplace for me.
I believe people of faith must learn to relax. To lose anxieties and stresses of what they have to do next and trust that their progress will be guided by their faith. This does not mean we should sit back and do nothing. Rather it means that we should work hard to deliver results one step at a time and live in the assurance that it will all work out as we are guided by faith. It took me a while to learn this lesson – I have what has been described as ‘a hurry up driver’ – but in time I have learnt that being able to relax about my career is integral to my success.
It is important to remember our foundation. What was your foundation in faith? What brought you to faith? What were the key life changing experiences that built your faith? It is easy to lose track of our faith. Remembering our foundation keeps us going when challenges make us want to lose faith and give up.
My faith created a sense of responsibility in me. Once I understood how the context people are born into affects their outcomes I felt a responsibility to grow into business leadership to make a difference. That responsibility fueled my professional ambition.
Joseph is my all-time human biblical character. I have allowed his life story to mentor me, guide me through an undulating career and drive my work ethic. His biggest mistake was in sharing his vision with the wrong people. But as all things work together for our good, that mistake was what would set him on his leadership development path. If you don’t know his story, please read Genesis 37. I wonder how he dealt with his darkest times. One minute he was a favourite son, next minute he was a slave. One minute he was in charge of one of the richest households in Egypt, next minute he was a prisoner. Repeatedly forgotten. I wonder how he got through the darkness. How did he keep faith alive? Alive enough to become a leader in prison. Alive enough to tell a fellow inmate being released not to forget him. How do you deal with life’s ups and downs? Do you let them teach and mould you or do you just respond in bitterness? Joseph was certainly not bitter because he not only forgave and helped his brothers but reconnected with them.
Like Joseph, we must all capture a vision. Not all of us dream our visions. Sometimes it is through a process of searching deep down inside of you. If you had to draw one picture of what you want the future to look like what would it be? Mine is of an Africa where everyone prospers.
Ambition and vision are not enough. We need structure in our approach. We must equip ourselves with the right skills for the journey ahead. And we must keep upgrading our skills. Every one of us must have something s/he is good at. Even Jesus himself was skilled – He is our ultimate example. I equipped myself with the skills of engineering. That gave me the professional basis to grow from.
What are your non-negotiable values? What won’t you compromise on? What are you willing to defend? My top 3 are integrity (because living by faith includes doing the right thing), excellence (because the creator is excellent, and we must strive to live in His image) and generosity (because it has taken many people’s efforts to get me here). How about you?
Having to defend our integrity is one of the hardest tests we can face. It is one thing to say we have integrity and a completely different thing to defend it. I recall a long stressful 9-month period when I had to defend my integrity at work. The good thing was that I knew I had done everything I professionally could in the lead up to having my integrity questioned. In the aftermath, I did all I could humanly do to defend my integrity and then left the rest up to prayer. Prayer in faith is not a last resort but I know that we are still required to do the right thing even as we pray.
Discernment is our ability to judge and in this context, I am referring to discernment when it comes to surrounding ourselves with the right people, particularly in the work place. It is possible to dissociate yourself from the wrong work colleagues and yet work with them when work demands. Don’t keep people in your life who put you down and put out your flame. Practicing faith also means knowing what not to do.
Wisdom is seeing things from God’s perspective. This means that we have to take the time to study God’s perspective through the word and the lives of others. Learning what they did right and how they got things wrong. Wisdom comes through experience and I don’t think all that experience has to be personal. But learn the lessons of experience because if you don’t they will come back to haunt you.
We are each fearfully and wonderfully made for a purpose. Ultimately as God’s glorious masterpieces to bring Him glory and worship Him.
Our careers must be purposefully crafted for glory and worship. We each need to discover our reason for being. Our reason for being created matters because none of us are here as an accident.
In closing, live your faith in the workplace purposefully focusing on your long-term vision.
Watch a video coverage of the session below:
[Pictures from the event]