How can Christian professionals bring their faith to work in a way that shows genuine concern for others, even when others are critical and even cruel?
Syndicated faith-based columnist and chaplain Norris Burkes offered suggestions to about 200 Christian professionals Thursday at East Cooper Baptist Church in Mount Pleasant.
First, bring humor. Burkes, who served as an active-duty Air Force chaplain, has dealt with the aftermath of war and delivered more than 30 death notifications to devastated families.
Yet, along with tears and grieving, he has seen spiritual healing from laughter.
“I think Jesus had a sense of humor,” said Burkes, a tall and wiry former Baptist pastor with a boyish grin. “When going into the workplace, if you are going to show a faith that works, you have to show a smile.”
Second, don’t offer prayer to co-workers assuming what they need.
Ask how people are doing. Then listen.
“Bring a prayerful heart and prayerful concern,” he suggested.
But most of all: Bring forgiveness.
And that might be the toughest challenge of all, he said, especially when workers feel unfairly criticized and unappreciated.
Burkes shared the story of a freshly wounded soldier he met who had just lost a friend in an attack. The private asked not for prayer for himself or his fellow soldiers, but rather for the insurgents who targeted them.
Would Burkes pray that God forgive the enemy and help them understand the Americans were trying to build them a stronger country?
Burkes reminded the crowd that Jesus prayed on the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:24).
“If you don’t bring forgiveness to the workplace, you don’t bring faith. You don’t bring God,” Burkes said.
He began writing his columns after Sept. 11, 2001, and today they run in about 50 newspapers nationwide, including The Post and Courier.
He is a chaplain in the California Air National Guard and author of “No Small Miracles: Heartwarming, Humorous, and Hopefilled Stories From a Pediatric Chaplain.”
He was hosted by LifeWorks of Charleston, which organizes events and assists Christian professionals who want to apply their faith in the marketplace.
Reach Jennifer Hawes at 937-5563, follow her on Twitter at @JenBerryHawes or subscribe to her at facebook.com/jennifer.b.hawes.