By Truth Seeker
“It is a mere and miserable solitude to want true friends, without which the world is but a wilderness …” (Francis Bacon)
When I read of the “miserable solitude” of one who wants “true friends” and the contrast between the “world” and ” wilderness” in this quote, I could not help but think of our workplace!
I have worked for many years in the corporate world and found that it is not easy for people in the workplace to develop into good friends! As I tried to observe and reason for a while, it could be the high mobility of people in the workplace, their different languages and expressions, busy and lengthy work life, and different interests. And some people may even deliberately draw a clear boundary between work and other areas of life and do not believe one can develop deep friendships in the workplace. So then, I concluded the most significant obstacles are busyness, cultural differences, language expression, and the uplifting of privacy. As a result, no matter how great the potential for friendship development and the hindrance resulting from lack of authentic communication and understanding, the chances of becoming friends are ever smaller! Although most people spend most of their waking hours in their workplaces, they tend to only focus on work efficiency and results. Thus the content of the communication is only work-related. Even in social chats, the content of conversations may be surrounding topics like weather, traffic, current affairs, or politics. In the marketplace, relationships between people tend to be superficial. Due to pressures of work and human deceitfulness and selfishness, there are many instances of discord, competitiveness, and mutual attacks. Those to whom we are physically closest every day may be the farthest in the distance within our hearts – what a pity!
In the Bible, there are not too many records of workplace friendship. The most desirable one is the friendship between David and Jonathan (1 Samuel 20:42). They came to know each other due to David’s defeat of Goliath and became Saul’s close subordinates. They cherished each other and eventually developed into close friends. There’re also other examples, such as relationships between masters and apprentices who have a common goal or orientation which turned into extraordinary friendships, e.g., Elijah and Elisha (2 Kings Chapter 2), Jesus and His inner circle: Peter, James, John (Mark 9:2), Paul and Timothy (Philippians 2) and so on. It is pretty surprising to realize that, despite the rapid developments in science, technology, media, and countless channels of communication between people, the friendship between people remains short-lived and superficial. There is no doubt that deep and meaningful companies require time, commitment, and close interactions to develop. In fact, from a positive perspective, the workplace has the potential for forming, developing, and nurturing valuable friendships. How can we turn this bustling “wilderness” of poor human relationships into an “oasis” where we can exchange acceptance, appreciation, sympathy, and support that can nourish people’s hungry hearts?
In my experience, such an “oasis” is only possible in Christ, e.g., a weekly lunchtime gospel fellowship. Never underestimate the potential of one-hour lunchtime. If we are persistent, we could transform this 1 – hour into a life-changing opportunity! I encountered and birthed in Jesus Christ in such a window of opportunity. Years ago, when I was working in Hong Kong, I was invited by several Christian colleagues to join their weekly lunchtime bible-study group. Initially, I had no interest in religious activities. Still, because of their sincere invitations, I was too embarrassed to decline, and they turned out to be the first contacts I had with Christians. After attending their group for a while, I began to have a deeper understanding of these Christians I worked with – their life outside work, family, children, outlook on life, values, attitudes when facing difficulties, and how to deal with them. At first, I found it quite amusing that these Christians seemed naive, with a simple trust in each other, sharing things so transparently with one another in prayers. But after seeing how God answered their prayers, I realized their God is truthful. Eventually, a Christian colleague invited me to her church, and gradually I came to faith in Jesus.
Shortly after my conversion, I immigrated to Canada and worked in downtown Toronto. God led me to a lunchtime Christian fellowship hosted by a French-Canadian lawyer couple. Although I was busy with work and sometimes did not feel like going, whenever I dropped everything and went, I felt inspired and recharged and found new strength to return to my work. When I formed the habit of attending every week, I gradually went with anticipation, eager to discover what comfort or encouragement God had in store for me that week. The content of the meeting was simple yet creative, e.g., singing and worship, Bible truth sharing, testimony, prayers, a mime show, and celebrations of special events like Christmas or Easter. Many people from different companies brought non-believing colleagues to attend. Because there was only one hour, every time there would be a simple message, even if it was just a Bible verse or a poem, it could cheer up the tired and discouraged people who came. My most profound impression was that many people who came had never set foot in a church. Some of them went to work with all kinds of burdens in life. In a fast-paced and indifferent “wilderness” called the workplace, this kind of gathering is a beautiful “oasis” where one can find rest and listen to God.
In addition, the lunchtime gospel fellowship in the workplace allows not-yet-Christians to know Jesus Christ and cultivates a sense of mission for Christians. At one meeting, the host addressed Christians, “Your true identity in your workplace is not the title of your job, but you are God’s “secret agents” in your company. He sent you there to witness Him and reach out to those whom even your church pastor could not reach. There are still so many people who have never set foot in a church, but God loves them! ”
Dear friends: Do you find the job you spend most of your time doing tedious and meaningless? Do you feel nobody care and you are very lonely? Do you know that in this bustling “wilderness,” there is an “oasis” waiting for you, God who created you, and Jesus loves you so much? Would you like to know him? If you are willing, please contact the staff of the Toronto Short Term Mission Training Center immediately!
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ: Although you have already believed in Jesus, do you feel like you are fighting alone daily in your workplace, apart from Sundays?
Do you want to see God’s miracles work in the workplace? How to become a godly messenger to introduce Jesus Christ, the Living Water, to those thirsty in this bustling “wilderness”?
Please contact Toronto Short Term Mission Training Center immediately.
May God bless you!