It’s been nearly two years since the world turned upside down. So much about our work has changed and will continue to change in the aftermath of this pandemic—especially where we all work physically.
Now more than ever, more of us are working from home or in some sort of hybrid environment. And by and large, we’re loving it. Searches for remote work went up an astonishing 460 percent in the past two years, according to the job search giant Glassdoor.
As someone who has worked from home for the past three years, I get the appeal. Remote work has some wonderful benefits. But it also carries a significant cost—because our workplaces are the primary place where most of us build relationships with unbelievers. This has always been true, which is likely why the apostle Paul commanded his readers to “work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders” (1 Thess. 4:11–12, NIV).
Given this, how should we as Christ-followers be thinking about this trend toward remote work? Let me suggest three responses.
1. Sacrifice your right to work-from-home.
If you have a choice in where you work, the gospel may compel you to sacrifice your freedom to do it where you want. You may choose to return to the office so that you can be more intentional about building relationships with unbelievers in person. Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 10:23–24 (NIV) are instructive here: “‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.”
More of us have “the right” to work from home than ever before. But let us be people who ask whether or not that is “constructive” to our mission to make disciples.
2. Think strategically about how to build relationships virtually.
If you decide remote work is what’s best for you or your team, spend some time thinking about how to build relationships in a virtual environment. That could look like scheduling casual virtual lunches with your coworkers, baking time into your Monday morning meetings to ask about everyone’s weekends, or encouraging small talk before your Zoom meetings by allowing participants to enter before the host arrives.
3. Expand your view of your personal mission field.
Finally, consider whether it’s time to expand your view of your personal mission field to include not just your coworkers, but also your physical neighbors. Maybe God is calling you to be outside with your kids in the afternoons so you can “win the respect” of other parents, or to invite a neighbor who also works from home out to lunch, or to host a block party for your neighbors on Friday night.
Immediately following the “parable of the sower,” Jesus preached the lesser-known “parable of the weeds,” saying that “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field” (Matt. 13:24, NIV). Later on, the disciples asked Jesus to explain what he meant by this metaphor, and he said, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom” (Matt. 13:37–38, NIV).
You and I are the good seeds of the Kingdom, planted in our small corner of creation for the sake of the gospel. For many of us, where we’re physically planted in that soil is changing.
But our call to make disciples is not. Consider spending some time today thinking about how your personal evangelism might need to shift in relation to the shifting position of your workspace.