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Editors’ note: 

This excerpt is adapted from Work Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship to Monday Work by Tom Nelson. Copyright © 2011. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187,

Jesus employs the metaphors of salt and light to communicate the pervasive impact people transformed by the gospel bring to the world. Speaking to his followers, Jesus states,

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (Matt. 5:14–16)

In all aspects of our lives, including our workplaces, we display to those around us the light of the glory of Christ who indwells us. Jesus emphasizes that we shine his light in our good works. Our good works take on many dimensions, and we must see that our daily work is a significant part of the good works that glorify God.

Faithful Presence

One of the ways that we are salt and light and act as redemptive agents in this broken world is to live out a faithful presence in the workplace. Woody Allen once observed that 90 percent of life is simply showing up. These words reveal some instructive wisdom for us. Sociologist James Hunter has thought a great deal about cultural change and the Christian’s faithfulness in the late modern world. Hunter reminds us that, first and foremost, Christ is faithfully present to us. He then makes an important point when he writes, “Faithful presence in the world means that Christians are fully present and committed in their spheres of influence, whatever they may be: their families, neighborhoods, voluntary activities, and places of work.” As followers of Jesus, we are called to a mission of engagement in, not withdrawal from, the broader world. To faithfully engage the world means we must be fully present within it.

A large stewardship of our calling in the workplace is faithfully showing up every day and demonstrating to others around us our good in and through our work. Seeking to live out a faithful presence in our workplaces means that we incarnate the gospel by doing good work and being exemplary workers. It means that we extend common grace to our coworkers and our customers and seek their good. As image-bearers of God, who is a worker, we must remember that our work has intrinsic value in itself and is to be an act of worship. We also must grasp that our work has instrumental value in that it provides for our economic needs, allows us to care for the needs of others, and creates a sphere of influence for the gospel to be lived out and shared.

Bringing Our Faith to Work

For many of us, when we think of bringing our Christian faith to work, our thoughts turn toward a kind of ethical behavior or even bowing our head and saying a silent prayer before we eat lunch. Of course these are good things. Yet when Dave and Demi Kiersznowski embraced the gospel and later began their successful and innovative Kansas City-based gift company DEMDACO, they desired to allow the biblical story of work and the broad redemptive implications of the gospel to shape their entire organizational culture.

Dave and Demi would be the first to say that DEMDACO is not a Christian company; but called by God to be business leaders, they are committed to modeling faithful presence in the workplace. Many of their work colleagues do not profess the Christian faith; some do not profess any religious faith at all. But DEMDACO is highly intentional about nurturing a corporate culture that holds up the high value of each person, the intrinsic value of work itself, the importance of seeking the common good, and bringing a redemptive influence to work, the worker, and the workplace. A relentless commitment to pursue work as it ought to be reflects the biblical storyline of work and makes its way into the purpose of the company.

DEMDACO’s purpose is stated this way: to lift the spirit by providing products that help people connect in a meaningful way and by pursuing business as it ought to be. As business leaders who are also devoted followers of Jesus, Dave and Demi have given me, and many others who have the delightful privilege of knowing them, an ongoing glimpse of the multifaceted influence the gospel is to have on our work and the workplaces we indwell. Observing the rich theology of vocation and work that permeates Dave and Demi’s calling as business leaders, I have been given a hopeful glimpse of what work was originally designed to be, and I find myself savoring an appetizer of what our work and our workplaces will one day be in the future.

Without knowing Christ, you and I will never experience the life for which we were created. Without knowing Christ, your work will never be all that God intended for it to be. Without knowing the One who created work, your work will never be ultimately fulfilling. The good news of work is that we can be transformed—that our work can be transformed.

For helpful advice to pastors from Dave Kiersznowski (and Katherine Alsdorf) about integrating faith and work in local congregations, see “Rethinking Work,” filmed at The Gospel Coalition 2013 National Conference.