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Fran and Jesus on the Job – Witnessing

May 12, 2017

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In response to Bud’s sarcastic apology, Jesus helps Fran to respond. “Actually, Bud, you didn’t hurt my feelings, you hurt my heart,” Fran answers.

Suddenly the whole room gets quiet and everyone is watching Bud and Fran. Nobody is really fond of Bud’s vile language, but since he’s been in the company for years, no one confronts him—not even upper management.

Bud gives a nervous laugh. “Hurt your heart? What do you mean, Fran?”

“Well, when you use the name of Jesus like that, it really hurts me because he’s the most important person in my life. He’s my best friend. How would you like it if I used the name of your best friend—or someone close to you—in a derogatory way? I think it would hurt your heart, Bud, just like you hurt mine,” Fran says. She thinks, Lord, were those words from you? I never planned to say that!

“Oh, Fran, you take things too personally. That’s just the way people talk,” Bud replies, obviously unnerved by Fran’s response. You can feel the electricity in the air.

Jesus nudges Fran, It’s time to get this conversation out of this public arena. Invite him to lunch.

Invite him to lunch, Lord? Bud? I don’t want to have lunch with him! Besides, he would never accept, Fran replies. But Jesus is insistent: Invite him to lunch, Fran.

When Jesus tugs at her like that, she knows she has to obey, so Fran turns to Bud. “You know, Bud, this would make for an interesting conversation over lunch today. How about it—my treat?”

“You’re inviting me to lunch? You think you can endure me that long, Fran?” Bud asks with a big laugh.

“I’m sure of it—if you think you can put up with me for that long,” Fran answers with a laugh.

“Okay, you’ve got a deal. I never turn down a free lunch,” Bud replies.

All through the meeting, Fran communicates to Jesus about this upcoming lunch with Bud. Lord, what am I’m going to say to Bud?

You’re going to become friends with Bud, Fran, and let him see what I’m like, living in you. How can you ever do that if you never get to know him? Jesus explains to Fran.

Well, okay, but it’s probably wasted effort. Bud’s a hopeless case, Fran thinks.

Oh, Fran, many times the people who look the least likely to want to know me are the ones most hungry. You may be surprised, Jesus informs her.

Fran is learning that witnessing begins with loving people, spending time with them, and getting to know them—even the people who seem to be the least likely candidates.

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Fran and Jesus on the Job – Witnessing

May 11, 2017

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The next morning, Fran talks with Jesus early in her day saying, “You know, Lord, I had hoped I could tell Sue about you last night. She really needs you, Lord, but . . . I don’t know, she didn’t seem to want to listen. She just wanted to talk about Ed.”

“Fran, you’re sowing seeds. You did the right thing to listen to Sue. You showed her love and that’s what she needed last night,” Jesus assures Fran.

“Yes, but I don’t want her to think I approve of her relationship with Ed. She was living in sin, and it’s a good thing he left, you know,” Fran says.

“Yes, I know, but listening to someone’s hurts doesn’t mean you approve of their lifestyle. Don’t worry; Sue knows how you feel about her relationship. Last night she needed to know that you cared and loved her unconditionally,” Jesus replies.

“Okay, but I hope someday to be able to lead her to know you, Jesus.”

“Yes, well, you certainly earned your right last night, Fran, so keep praying for her,” Jesus says.

After a few more minutes in prayer, Fran gets her day going—a little weary, but feeling good about her evening with Sue.

As she arrives at the office, Fran remembers there’s a department meeting this morning. “Oops, better get into that meeting before I’m late,” she says, and hurries to the conference room.

It seems the only chair available is right next to Bud, head of operations. Fran is not terribly fond of Bud: he’s crude, to put it mildly, uses profanity a lot, and shares dirty jokes when he has a chance.

“Oh, Fran, don’t tell me you’re going to sit next to me,” Bud says as she sits down. “Be careful, you might catch something.” Bud always tries to get to Fran, and it seems as soon as she gets near, his language gets worse.

She tries to ignore his comment, but he immediately uses the Lord’s name in a blasphemous way. Fran winces at his words. “Oh, ‘scuse me, Fran, I forgot you’re a Jesus freak. Didn’t mean to hurt your feelings,” Bud says, with obvious sarcasm.

Lord, Fran whispers to Jesus, am I supposed to just sit here and let Bud get by with this profane use of your name?

Stay calm, Jesus replies, I’ll tell you what to say.

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Fran and Jesus on the Job – Witnessing

May 10, 2017

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Fran has run into a neighbor who needs a friend. Although Fran had planned a quiet evening for herself, at Jesus’ prodding, she gives Sue a call.

“Hi, Sue, this is Fran. Listen, I don’t have anything I have to do tonight. Why don’t you come on over in a little while. The kids go to bed around 8:30 or 9:00. We’ll have some time then to talk. I’ve got good ears, Sue, and I’m willing to listen,” Fran invites Sue over. “Yeah, I’m sure; see you later.”

As she hangs up the phone, she smiles. “You know, Lord, I didn’t really plan to do that, but when I started thinking about Sue and how I’d feel if I were in her shoes, well. . . .” Fran’s voice trails off.

“Yes, Fran, you just put on compassion. You have prayed that I’ll help you to be a compassionate person, so I just answered that prayer,” Jesus tells her. “When you care about someone, when you feel compassion toward them, it’s not so difficult to be a servant to them, is it?”

“Oh, I didn’t think of it as being a servant; I just wanted to help her. I hope I can,” Fran replies.

“True servanthood,” he says, “is when you are a servant and don’t even realize it. That happened, Fran, as soon as you stopped thinking about how inconvenient it was, how you had a right to a night all your own, and thought instead about Sue.”

“I get the picture, Lord,” Fran replies. “Keep praying for compassion, keep putting myself in others’ shoes, and day by day, you will answer my prayer and make me more like you—compassionate. It really is amazing to see how you can change me,” Fran says.

She helps the kids with their homework and, as they’re getting ready for bed, Sue knocks on the door. It turns out to be a late night for Fran, as Sue talks for several hours and pours out her hurt and pain from her broken relationship.

Fran falls in bed about midnight—exhausted, but praying for Sue as she goes to sleep.

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Fran and Jesus on the Job – Witnessing

May 9, 2017

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Have you ever wondered how you can befriend a non-believer whose lifestyle is sinful, without appearing to approve of the sin? Fran is facing that dilemma. On the way home from work, she runs into a neighbor, Sue, who tells Fran that her live-in boyfriend has just moved out. Sue is obviously upset and wants to talk, and Fran promises to call her soon.

In the check-out line, Jesus says to Fran, “You know, Sue is really needing a friend right now, Fran. Why didn’t you invite her to come over tonight and talk?”

“Tonight? Well, Lord, you know this is the first night in two weeks I’ve had to myself. I just want to be alone and read after the kids go to bed,” Fran replies, sounding a bit defensive.

“Yeah, I understand, Fran, but can you afford to pass up an opportunity like this to reach out to someone who was obviously asking you to help her?” Jesus asks.

“Well, I’ll call her and set up a date next week for pizza or something,” Fran answers, hoping that will satisfy Jesus.

“Next week?” he replies. “Next week is a long time off when you’re hurting like Sue is.”

As she heads for the car, Jesus doesn’t say anything else, but Fran is very uncomfortable. She pulls into her driveway, and says, “Lord, you really think I should give up my one free night and ask Sue over tonight? I mean, don’t I have a right to one night to myself?”

“A right? Well, think about that, Fran,” Jesus says. “I gave up my rights to all that was coming to me when I left heaven to come to earth. The essence of the Christian life is that we give our rights over to God, and allow him to run things for us. You remember, I said, ‘Not my will, but thine be done.’”

Fran remembers in a flash all that she has been learning about giving up her rights and being a servant. But when the rubber hits the road, as it has this evening, she finds it a bit difficult. “Guess I really don’t like being a servant sometimes, Lord,” Fran replies, as she sits in the car a few more minutes. “It’s not always convenient, is it?” Fran asks with a smile.

“No, sometimes it’s terribly inconvenient and requires sacrifice. But the rewards are good, Fran,” Jesus reminds her.

As she makes dinner for the kids, her mind again goes to Sue. She thinks, Sue must be devastated. Ed was her whole life, and now he’s gone. I knew he would never marry her, but she thought for sure if they just lived together for a few months, then he’d want to get married.

Jesus reminds her that Sue is desperate for love, and she doesn’t know his love, so she’s looking for it in a man. That happens a lot, doesn’t it? She and Jesus talk a bit about Sue’s dilemma; before she knows it, Fran has reached for the phone and dialed Sue’s number.

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Fran and Jesus on the Job – Witnessing

May 8, 2017

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Knowing how to witness to others is often a perplexing question for many of us. Our friend, Fran, is facing that issue. This on-going story of Fran and Jesus is told as though Jesus were with her all the day—she talks to him and he to her. Of course, Jesus is with us all the time, but sometimes we forget. Hopefully, these episodes of Fran and Jesus will help us remember to practice the presence of Jesus every day, everywhere.

Today Fran is hurrying home from work. It seems like I always have to stop at the store for something, Fran thinks. “You know, Lord, if I didn’t have to buy groceries, I’d be rich,” she muses. “But with a growing nine-year-old boy, he just seems to never get enough. I’m thankful you told us not to worry about what we eat or wear, because you know we have need of these things,” Fran says to Jesus. She is reassured by the promise that Jesus will never leave or forsake her, and has indeed promised to supply all her needs according to his riches in glory.

She pulls into the grocery parking lot and dashes into the store, practically running through the aisles, finding the things she needs. In the midst of her hurry, she hears a voice, “Hey, Fran!” She turns and sees her neighbor.

“Sue, hi. How are you? Goodness, I haven’t seen you in several weeks. Good to see you,” Fran says in a friendly way.

“Yeah, I’ve been thinking about calling and stopping in to talk but—well, I know how busy you are with the kids and everything,” Sue says.

“How about your job, Sue? Did you get that new job you were hoping for?” Fran asks.

“No, I decided not to even apply for it, Fran,” Sue answers. “I’m sure I didn’t have a chance, and besides. . . .” her voice trails off and Fran can tell something is wrong.

“What’s wrong, Sue? You look a little upset,” Fran encourages her to talk.

Sue looks around, uncomfortable talking in the middle of the store. “Well, Ed moved out a couple of weeks ago and. . .I’ve just been upset, I guess.”

“Oh, I see,” Fran replies. “I’m. . .well I’m. . . .” What can I say, Lord? Fran asks Jesus. I’m not sorry Ed moved out; they shouldn’t have been living together anyway.

Just show her some love, Fran, Jesus responds. You can show love for people even if you don’t approve of what they’re doing.

Fran continues with Sue, “I’m sure this has been very hurtful for you, Sue. I’m so sorry. I didn’t know.”

“Well, maybe I could talk with you sometime when you have time. I know how busy you are. . . .” Sue looks at Fran with hopeful eyes.

“Of course. We’ll get together soon, I promise,” Fran replies, and with that they each head for the check-out stand.

Was that the right response?

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What Is Caesar’s and What Is God’s?

Apr 1, 2017

Jesus said, “Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 22:21) The context and occasion when Jesus made this statement was one of those times when the Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus. The story is found in Matthew 22:15-22. They posed a question which they figured would catch him off guard and cause him to indict himself with his own words.

The passage reads like this:

“Teacher,” they said, “we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?”

“Caesar’s,” they replied.

Then he said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”

When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.

The Pharisees were trying to get Jesus to contradict himself. He had been proclaiming that God does not regard one person higher than another and is not impressed with their hypocritical religiosity. If they could get him to say that Caesar was of no importance and, because he was not a man of God, they owed him no allegiance, then they’d have Jesus in trouble with the law and could get him arrested.

But Jesus was too smart for their scheming. In answering them, he gave to all of us a very important biblical principle: our allegiance to Jesus Christ does not relieve us of our duties to others, even to people who may not be godly. We are to be good citizens and examples of giving to others what is rightfully theirs.

I’d like to apply this principle to your working world, especially if you are employed and have someone in authority over you, someone who hands you a paycheck at regular intervals. This principle applies even more if your employer is not a Christ-follower and does not adhere to Christian principles. If you think of your employer—your boss—as the Caesar in your life, then you can apply this principle to your particular situation; it can give you some very good guidance on your behavior and responsibility as an employee.

Let’s think about the things a Christian employee owes to their employer, the things that are rightfully due an employer or boss, whether they are Christian or not:

  1. You Owe Hard Work

A Christian employee should always give their employer an honest day’s work for the money they receive. If you have agreed to do a certain job for a certain paycheck, then you owe that work to your employer.

Sadly, not everyone works hard for their employer. If you’ve been in the working world very long, you’ve certainly seen many people who maybe work one hour in three. They spend much of their working day talking on the phone, taking care of personal matters, talking to a co-worker, or just dragging their feet instead of working diligently.

At one time, I designed a training program for a client. One of my first tasks was to understand the problem and the people better. So I spent a good bit of time interviewing employees. I heard a constant complaint that they had too much work to do, that the employer was asking too much of them. Finally, I said to one employee, “Do you really think you’re asked to do more than you can accomplish in eight hours of honest work?” She was very candid in answering me, saying, “Mary, we used to have to work four to five hours a day in an eight-hour shift. Now they want us to work seven.”

This situation is very common today. Many people are offended if you ask them to give eight-hours of work for eight-hours of pay. There seems to be an attitude that the employer owes eight-hours of pay for maybe four-hours of work, and to ask more is really outrageous.

To give to your employer what is rightfully theirs, a Christian should always give a full day’s work. You should never take advantage of your employer by cheating them out of time and work that is due to them. Your work habits should be noticeably different from those who try to take advantage of the employer, and your attitude should be one of being desirous to give the employer what is their rightful due—hard work for your pay.

  1. You Owe Protection of Employer’s Assets

What belongs to your employer is yours to use for business purposes, not for your own personal benefit. You need to realize that taking your employer’s assets is simply stealing. I’m well aware that this is a common practice, and people don’t think of it as stealing; here again, Christians have standards higher than those of this world’s. If you render to Caesar what is rightfully theirs, then you will be careful not to steal from your employer and to do everything you can to conserve their money and their assets.

Those pencils and pads, paper clips and file folders which are supplied by your employer should not end up in your desk at home for your own personal use. Expense accounts should be meticulously honest and fair.

  1. You Owe Loyalty

As long as you’re willing to take your paycheck from your employer, you owe them respect and loyalty. It is a very common thing for employees to constantly degrade and talk negatively about their employer. But a Christian should not be found stabbing them in the back or running them down to others.

This should be a point of distinction for a Christian employee. It should be quite noticeable that you do not enter into the office gossip and character assassination of anyone, especially of your boss and employer. If you find you cannot give this respect and loyalty to your employer, then you should move on. It’s wrong to work for someone and, at the same time, disparage them and constantly gripe and complain about them.

Once again, here are three things that I believe you owe to your “Caesar,” your employer: 1) An honest day’s work; 2) protection of their assets by being careful not to use company assets for your own benefit; and 3) loyalty. Ask yourself if you are giving to Caesar what belongs to Caesar. That is what Jesus told us to do, and we must be careful to obey, both in the little and big things. Jesus said he knows we love him if we keep his commandments. This, then, is one way to show Jesus you love him, and it’s a good way to establish a strong testimony on your job.

Now, let’s think about what you do not owe to your employer, for the other half of this principle is to give to God what is God’s.

  1. You Do Not Owe Dishonesty or Deception

God requires of you a life of integrity and honesty; there is no such thing as a white lie. Lying for your employer is giving to them what is due to God. An employer has no right to ask an employee to lie or deceive in any way.

You may be thinking, “But my boss tells me to lie for him. What do I do?” Well, if you can avoid a confrontation by simply not lying, then I recommend that. For instance, instead of saying, “He’s not in,” when he is, say, “I’m sorry, he’s not available.” That’s the truth and you don’t even have to make an issue of it.

However, if your boss explicitly asks you to lie for him or her, this is where you have to take a stand and not render to that employer what is not due them. If they make an issue out of it, you could simply say, “If I lie for you, how would you know that I would not lie to you? I think I could handle the situation acceptably in another way.”

If your employer asks you to falsify reports or alter statistics to make them look better, that is another place where a Christian cannot render to Caesar what belongs to God. When obeying an employer causes you to disobey a Christian principle, then your course of action is clear: you obey God rather than man. That may cost you a job; it may cost you promotions or favor with the bosses. There is a price for true discipleship. But there should be no question as to what is right for you to do.

  1. You Do Not Owe Dishonorable Activity

You do not owe your employer participation in any activity that is dishonorable. Socializing after work or with customers is the American way, but frequently it is not the godly way. There are jobs where this type of after-hours activity is common and expected, and the people who get ahead are those who take part in these questionable activities. If you’re expected to participate in social occasions where lewd conversation or behavior is common, then you have a decision to make: will you render to Caesar what belongs to God?

No employer has a right to require you to be a part of compromising situations in order to keep your job. That is not their rightful due.

  1. You Do Not Owe All of Your Energy and Time

If you must constantly give your employer twelve-hours a day and weekends, you’re probably giving to Caesar what belongs to God. While it’s true you owe them an honest day’s work, if you give far more than that in order to get ahead, such that there’s no time left for your family, friends, church or yourself, then you’re getting into dangerous spiritual territory.

This one is tough to deal with because you may feel guilty that you’re not at work late hours, or you worry about what others will think about you for not being there on Sunday to work. Again, it may be a costly decision, for it’s true that some employers expect every drop of your time and energy in order to keep your job or get promotions. But don’t be fooled by this world’s false standards of excellence. You owe God time and a balanced lifestyle. If you put him first, he’ll honor that commitment.

Remember that someday we will all stand before God and give an account for everything we’ve done. Do you ever think about that? What will you say if you’ve failed to give your employer what is rightfully theirs? What will you say if you have given your employer what really belongs to God and have compromised your standards and principles? When we get an eternal viewpoint and see things the way God sees them, it sure makes a difference.

Ask God to show you today where you need to apply this principle in your life. In 1 Timothy 4, we read that we are to be examples in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. Verse 16 says, “Watch your life and doctrine closely.” It’s not always easy to do, but you’ll be glad when you stand before God that you have given to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and given to God what belongs to God.

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