TGC’s “Thorns & Thistles” column seeks to apply wisdom with practical advice about faith, work, and economics. If you have a question on how to think about and practice your work in a way that honors God, let us know at [email protected].
I work in a heavily LGBT+ environment. How can I be a light in this situation?
It’s hard being in environments that are so overtly contrary to God’s ways. The meaning of being made in God’s image as male and female (Gen. 1:26–28) is being subverted by narcissism and rebellion. Subjectivity is overtaking objective facts and “my truth” reigns over the pursuit of the truth itself.
Being a loving, uncompromising, and effective witness calls for courage and wisdom. Here are six suggestions to help you navigate these turbulent waters.
1. Begin with a foundation of love.
A follower of Jesus operates from a heart of agape love and humble intercession for those who need the Lord. As you go to work, begin each day with personal gratitude for the cross and your underserved salvation. Such thankfulness positions your heart to pray for your colleagues’ salvation and blessing, even while you grieve over their sin.
2. Work well.
Do your work with a cheerful heart as worship before the Lord. Refuse to engage in gossip. Rejoice when others are promoted (even if you’re overlooked). Be the best leader or team player possible. Such are the “good works” that cause others to honor our Father in heaven (Matt. 5:16).
3. Share your joy.
When it’s natural, share your joys and challenges concerning your family and friends, church and charitable activities, and hobbies and recreation. Let those around you see your hope and humanity, your inner peace while navigating life, and your humility and love. This will help give credence to your witness.
4. Be quick to listen.
When moral and political hot-button issues arise in conversation, be slow to speak and quick to listen—both to the Holy Spirit and to the intent behind others’ affirmations and questions.
Let those around you see your hope and humanity, your inner peace while navigating life, and your humility and love.
As you do, offer thoughtful questions. For example, someone in the circle might complain about all the “religious people who hate nonbinary people.” You might say, “That’s interesting. I see this happening a lot in atheist countries like China or radical Islamist nations like Iran. Where do you see Christianity oppressing people of other religions?”
Or if someone complains that pro-life advocates want a “theocracy that oppresses women,” you might ask about the oppression of women in Islamist Afghanistan. Or you could wonder aloud about the rising rates of mental health problems in young women as our society becomes more affluent and digital and less connected to community and religion.
5. Tell your story.
Having heard from your coworkers and treated them with kindness and dignity, you’ll be in an ideal place to share your own story—a story that necessarily includes what Jesus has done for you.
When your coworkers ask about your weekend, cheerfully tell them about your Sunday morning at church and the blessing it was to you. When you’re discussing childhood, tell them about the parents who prayed with you every night or the teenage friend who invited you to youth group when your home life was a wreck.
Don’t be afraid to say, “I’m completely different than I used to be because I met Jesus.” Your story may draw your coworkers into the greatest story—the story of Jesus and his redeeming love for his enemies.
6. Remember the goal.
The deep need of your LGBT+ colleagues isn’t to become straight but to know Jesus as their Savior. The more you can steer conversations to your mutual deep longings—for things like goodness, true justice, and a hopeful future—the more you can find common ground as people made in the image of God. And that will hopefully ignite in them a longing for something more.
The deep need of your LGBT+ colleagues isn’t to become straight but to know Jesus as their Savior
One warning: Depending on your work environment, it’s probably prudent to have as many of these conversations as possible outside work space and time. It’s also wise to avoid using company texts, emails, or websites for stating your views. Instead, invite curious coworkers out for coffee, dinner, or a walk after work. Not only will those conversations be on your own time, but they’ll be more private and relaxed.
Here’s some hopeful realism: Your inner peace, excellent work habits, and kind interactions can be used by God to awaken hunger for the grace and truth of Christ. Yes, it’s hard, but with every prayer, moment of patient forbearance, and small conversation, you’ll see how God’s Word holds up well.