If I asked, “Who are you discipling in the workplace?” how would you respond? Are you thinking, “Should I even be discipling in the workplace? Shouldn’t discipleship happen in the church? What if I am a full-time mom?”
I had similar thoughts over the years. I prided myself in being able to compartmentalize my work-life and church-life. I heard of evangelism in the workplace but discipling in the workplace was a foreign concept until I spent three years in Cambodia on medical missions. There I heard our team leader preach that discipleship began with evangelism when Jesus first evangelized his future disciples from the fishing industry in the Gospels. Since then, God has been growing a heart for discipleship not only with women in the church, but even with pharmacy students and coworkers.
Opportunities to Share of Christ
I always felt something was amiss while training future pharmacists to become good clinicians. During my first year as a faculty member, I had three students—a Muslim, a Buddhist, and a Jewish student—assigned to me for six weeks. At the end of the rotation, one student asked, “Dr. Jun, you seem to have a lot of peace. Where does that come from?” Inwardly, I was so happy to be asked this, but outwardly, all I could say was, “uhm, you know…” Regrettably, I failed to give an answer for the hope that was in me.
While my actions may have brought about curiosity, I failed to use my words to communicate the Gospel. I was not prepared and was ashamed to disclose that I was a Christian at work. Feeling horrible, I went to talk with a Christian colleague who told me, if someone asks, then you are free to talk about your faith. Equipped with this new knowledge and confidence, God granted other opportunities to share the good news in the workplace.
My work history is a testimony of God’s handiwork in my life. I often share how I moved to Cambodia for three years which naturally leads students to ask, “Why did you go to Cambodia?” This creates natural opportunities to share about my faith in Christ and what God has been doing through me.
Whether or not you get “paid” for the work you do— at home, school, or church— this is your God given workplace and we all labor to bring glory to the same Lord, Jesus Christ. For stay-at-home mothers this means intentional and unintentional discipling opportunities in the kitchen with your children. For students, school is your workplace. For me, my workplace consists of students in the classroom, and individual students, patients, and coworkers in the clinic. In the book “The Gospel at Work,” Sebastian Traeger and Greg Gilbert reminds us that “Who you work for is more important than what you do. You work for Jesus. No matter what you are doing, you are doing it to glorify Jesus.”1
Working closely alongside Catholics, Baptists, Muslims as well as un- and de-churched people led to deepening of relationships and ever-increasing vulnerability with one another as we shared our personal struggles.
I shared honestly with one coworker about my difficulties with a sister-in-law because my daughter got bitten on the face by her dog and I struggled with unforgiveness. As time went on, the coworker started to share issues she was having with her family. One day, she passed me a note that said, “I’m falling under the weight of my cross today, could you help me get back up? I’m feeling so hopeless today.” I didn’t know exactly what to say, so I talked about the sermon I heard on Sunday about what a dysfunctional and broken family Jacob came from and how God used Leah, the unloved wife, to bring about the line of Jesus. To my surprise, my coworker said she read a blog about Leah that morning. She felt like God was using me to speak into her life.
Then I also shared what I was learning in my struggles with unforgiveness—that when we focus on someone else’s sin, we feel like the victim. However, I reminded her how before God, I am such a miserable sinner, unforgiving, unloving, and judgmental.
She said, “You’re right, I am such a big sinner. I couldn’t see my sin in all this because I was focused on the other person’s sin. Thanks for giving me hope today.”
It takes time for trust to build. I worked with this person for two years. God placed me there to work closely with her as He orchestrated this family crisis in her life. During one of our follow-up conversations, I prayerfully asked, “Would you like to do discipleship with me?” Amazingly, she responded, “I need all the help I can get. I would love to!” We have been going through the “Gospel Centered Life” book together. Other coworkers noticed we were meeting and praying together and have since asked to join as well.
To speak the truth in love and gentleness, for the other person to be willing to listen to you, takes a lot of building up of relational capital in order to use it when it counts. Remember, God put you where you are for a reason. Who is God putting in your life for you to go deep with and walk alongside to disciple one other for Christ?
1 Traeger, Sebastian and Gilbert, Greg. The Gospel at Work: How the Gospel Gives New Purpose and Meaning to Our Jobs. Grand Rapids Michigan: Zondervan, 2018, p122.