Many people in the business world have been talking a lot lately about the connection between faith and the workplace. Most of the people who are leading the conversation are business owners, managers or leaders. In the process, sometimes it can be easy to focus on more white-collar jobs. But there is a great need to help people in blue-collar jobs realize that what they do matters too.
Any job can be done for the glory of God when we work onto the Lord. It isn’t by accident that both Jesus and the Apostle Paul worked with their hands in their day jobs.
The October cover story for Christianity Today focused on this issue. The article titled, “God of the Second Shift” highlighted that 2/3rds of the workforce is generally missing from the discussion about faith in the workplace. Read the article here.
The author was Jeff Haanen, who directs the Denver Institute for Faith & Work. He wrote, “In an affluent American society we often forget that a good portion of the New Testament was written to suffering believers (James, 1 Peter and Revelation come to mind). The do-what-you-love ethic is unhelpful to such believers in the working class. But “Love whom you do it for” is different entirely.”
It can be hard to get excited about menial work where the job has little to no prestige. Blue-collar workers may have to work two to three jobs to support their family. And they have limited time to focus on lofty things, such as the meaning or value of their work. However, when you keep in mind Colossians 3:23 and work unto the Lord, your focus is less on the job and more on doing something for those you love — namely the Lord and your family.
What is clear is that we can all do the following to help those in the second shift economy realize that they can live on mission too.
- When developing workplace ministries at churches, don’t just invite the top dogs. Seek input from workers and those who are doing the hard work on the line or in connection with the customers. These are the real heros who make the companies go.
- Recognize people in more blue-collar jobs who do great work. Point them out to managers, give them kudos in front of others.
- Do some “real work” yourself by helping others on your team with their jobs. Just doing this a day or two a year, will help you build rapport if you are a manager or business leader.
- Treat people doing more mundane jobs with compassion. Just because they are serving you, don’t treat them like a servant. Thank them for their work and where appropriate tip well.
- Give second-shift workers flexibility to work two jobs and still have time for their family if you can’t afford to pay them enough to make a truly living wage.
- Go out of your way to get in conversations with people in service fields. Get to know their name and find out a bit about their story, especially if you will be in contact with them on a regular basis.
- Treat every person working with you or for you with respect — not matter the person’s job title.
- When you honor other people, you honor their Maker.
- Ultimately, try to create work environments where everyone has a voice, regardless the position.
- Provide career paths and ladders for success that includes training and encouragement.