Maintaining your Christian identity in the workplace
Guest blog by Winifred Dike
I have had two different phases in my career and I constantly remind myself of who I was from the onset and the values I learnt in my foundation. This building will not fall. There may be storms, but pillars hold me up. These pillars are my people. I surround myself with those whose characters I admire; whose value systems are solid.
‘This building will not fall.’
I think being a Christian should be just that – being a Christian. In every environment I find myself, I should be able to exhibit the values I hold dear, without restraint. Earlier in my career, maintaining my Christian identity was much easier. When I look back, I find that I took so much for granted. I worked in an environment where everyone was Christian. The few who were not, had very high integrity bars. It was simply awesome and easy being yourself – holding people in high esteem, expecting the truth, exuding grace, praying before jobs were carried out and oh – listening to music while working – (no headphones)! Life was sweet. The path to greatness was certain, cast in sheets of paper; to be promoted, do x + x and get 2x.
The latter phase of my career has been somewhat different. This feels like the nurturing phase, the ‘test’ phase. Maintaining my Christian identity has been a daily unravelling fascination, with more unpredictable days. From waking up with a jump – hoping I haven’t over-snoozed the alarm this time, to saying my prayers on the move, reading emails that are outright lies (I then have to search for the truth and re-attach in my response), to listening to judgmental and political conversations and sometimes getting so annoyed I become the biased and judgmental one. I’ve come from a place of not being sensitive to my environment, to learning that we all have differing backgrounds and cultural beliefs, all thrown into a space that is not our own, and forced to function at our best, building relationships that would outlive the workspace, creating limitless impact which cannot be expressed in formulas.
Maintaining my identity has meant going back to the basics often and reminding myself whose I am and who I am. I’ve learnt that it is OK to pray on the go when I can’t go in solitude to my Maker. I’ve learnt that a constant conversation with God is what I need for this phase (and all phases). This means that even when I can’t quote the Bible, I must be conversant with the Word enough to remember to say “Greater is He that is in me than…” when I am faced with what I simply cannot understand. And when I don’t understand why there is envy at any time, I remember, “I am made in His image and likeness” When I get irritated and upset after I have promised God I would not lose my cool or be sarcastic or aim to prove a point for my sake, I say “Father, forgive me and give me peace which only comes from You’’. And when I am treated unfairly because I am a beautiful lady who looks like she is still in secondary school and doesn’t know her left from her right, I say “Thank you Jesus, because I am created in God’s own image and likeness”. Even the simple things have become prayer points. Every minute is an experience for me. On some days, I am with a heart full of thanks. On other days, I am with lips filled with…never mind.
But every day, with every decision, I am able to look back and say God was preparing me for this or that. I had a close-knit network of people I saw every day and could expand it as I wanted, reaching people of similar mindsets and goals. Now I must deal with people I may never meet, with differing value systems. So, I focus on respecting people, treating everyone right and being the best version of myself at all times, even virtually. I try to apologise on the go (and mean it), saving none for later, because there may never be another opportunity. With this, I constantly learn to be gracious. Colossians 4 v 6* therefore becomes a lifestyle and not just a Bible verse.
I’ve learnt that I will not always have the best of management or structures in place, so this teaches me diligence and patience. The principle of “own your job” sinks in even further, extending beyond the work place to a lifestyle. Luke 12 v 48** becomes an attitude which others learn from, simply because the way tasks are handled shows them that I know what it means to be responsible. I ask God for wisdom and energy and remember that ‘promotion does not come from the east or the west, but from you.’
And with living every day in a city people say is “fast”, but I say is “unplanned suffer head”, I remind myself that an efficient woman is one who plans her tomorrow the night before and remembers to write things down. With the craziness of the work life, I remember there is a Proverbs 31 woman in this modern-day life. Be principled, write things down and follow through. Keep your word. And it is possible; everything is achievable with a good plan. I’ve come to learn more discipline by working closely with Muslims who exhibit discipline and fairness in their dealings.
Even before I was formed in my mother’s womb, He had an ultimate plan and as I commit my days to Him, everything works out for my good because I love God. Besides, I am not the first to live this life, my case is not ‘special’; it is distinguished! I am learning to rely on God to fill my joy tank, to laugh more and see the different sides, understanding that a story is never finished if we still can hope, imagine and breathe. So, that person who I think has annoyed me because of the way he said something did not really annoy me, he simply learnt English as a second language, so he translates his first language straight to English and it comes out rather harshly. Not his intention; no shade given, none received. I’m comfortable asking why (without being confrontational) and keeping silent. I’m learning to forgive before an apology is rendered. This is not easy but to maintain my sanity and stay focused on being a Christian, I remember that I am just a part of the puzzle and as one of my wisest friends said to me, “I simply don’t have an exaggerated sense of self-importance.” Who am I to be holding a grudge against someone because of the corporate world – seriously?
So, I live in abundance of positivity and love and I am learning to live this way with intention in my present state, maximising all my strengths and taking advantage of every opportunity God places before me. I maintain my Christian values by focusing more on character building and asking myself hard questions. I surround myself with the people I recognise as sharing the same values of respect, love and a sense of responsibility and commitment regardless of their Religious and political beliefs. In the end, I realise part of my calling is to bring more to God, so I maintain my stand as a Christian by staying focused on Bible-based principles, learning and showing Godly character and love in all things said, written and done.
*Colossians 4 v 6 'Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.'
**Luke 12 v 48 'From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.' (NIV)
Winifred Dike is passionate about God and everything that matters to her. She’s a creative and meticulous individual with an overly analytical mind. She enjoys reading, photography, watching series, listening to music and spending time with loved ones. She particularly enjoys writing, from short love notes and long letters, to articles and reports. To find out more about her, please follow her on Instagram @winniechecx.