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Relationships: Why are Work Relationships Important?

There are many kinds of relationships in your everyday life. These relationships are formed from a wide variety of places: family, school, work, church, kid activities, community events, sports, and the list goes on. All of these types of relationships are modeled in the Bible and there are many references on each to help us understand the new commandment that Jesus gave us in John 13:34, “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another.”


God has created us for relationship. With Him and with each other. God's original design for mankind was to be in constant communion or relationship with Him. This all changed after the first sin in the garden all those years ago. Our relationships with each other also changed at that moment. Part of the purpose of our relationships with others is to share Christ with people that do not know about Him and the saving power that He brings to all people.

I want to take a deeper dive into one type of relationship that the apostle Paul modeled for us as he was going about his ministry. This one has been on my mind more in the past several months. Paul was a Jew, a Roman citizen, an eventual Christ follower, an apostle, a teacher, a missionary, a shipwreck survivor, a prisoner...but one thing he continued to do all throughout his ministry was be a tentmaker. Yes, he worked in his trade throughout his time in ministry to support himself and others. One might ask, why would he do this? Some of the churches he visited would surely have supported him if he had requested it. And it might have been easier for him if he did it this way, but that was not what Paul chose. He continued to work in his trade and support himself as he was preaching and teaching among the people he was ministering to.


Acts 18:1-4 “After this, he (Paul) left Athens and went to Corinth, where he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul came to them, and since they were of the same occupation, tentmakers by trade, he stayed with them and worked. He reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath and tried to persuade both Jews and Greeks.”


1 Thessalonians 2:9 “For you remember our labor and hardship, brothers and sisters. Working night and day so that we would not burden any of you, we preached God’s gospel to you.”


So, if this is what Paul chose, we must ask ourselves why it was important for him to continue to work in his trade among the people?


I think it’s because this allowed him the opportunity to continue to be in the marketplace, in his place of employment, in and among the people. All the people. This allowed him to get to know the people he worked beside, the people he purchased supplies from, his customers, the neighboring shop stand owners and many others that he would not have had access to if he was just in the synagogue preaching.


So, how does this apply to us? Paul was showing us how to be in the world but not be of the world. Our relationships with our families are very important, but most of our time is spent at work and/or school. So how can these work/school relationships not be vitally important in our lives? How can we learn to navigate them with a Christ lens?


Even for Paul, his workplace relationships were a part of his ministry and mission field. The relationships we have in our workplace are OUR ministry and mission field. This is where we get to show others what the love of Christ looks like day-in and day-out. We need to love them and tell them about Jesus, but it’s harder to do if we don’t know them.

Getting to know the people around you helps you understand how they think, what they believe, how they spend their time, and what is important to them. Someone that you don’t have a relationship with is probably less likely to listen to you. Especially about a sensitive topic like religion. To be able to share Christ with them, it’s easier to do if you are familiar with them and can demonstrate Christ’s desire to redeem them. This is when they may be more receptive to hear what you are trying to tell them.


Some of them will have never heard of Jesus, no one has shared the true redeeming message of Christ, that He’s here for them even in the mess.


Some will have heard of Christ, but no one has explained it, so they don’t KNOW Christ.


Some will have had a bad experience with the church.


And some won’t want to hear anything you have to say about Jesus, no matter if you have a relationship with them or not.


It isn’t our responsibility to get them to respond to Christ, it is our responsibility to tell them.


We are to be like Paul. We are to continue in our trade. We are to be in relationships with our coworkers. We are to preach the gospel.



 


Mamie Kester has lived in Cape Girardeau, Missouri for most of her life. She has been a follower of Christ since early childhood. She has been married to Mitchell since 2007, they have two daughters. She is a small business owner and a project manager/electrical engineer at a consumer products company. Mamie and her husband have led Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University class for the past 6 years.

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