“Serving the Lord”: Christianity, Work, and Social Engagement in China
“People Will See How You Walk Before They Believe What You Talk”
2. Spirituality and Religion in the Workplace: An Overview
3. Being Christians in the Workplace: Employees of a “Different Kind”
After graduation, I did an internship as a customer service officer at a hotel. My job was to serve patrons, and how I mix my faith with my job is that I make sure that at the very least, my service attitude on the surface must be thoughtful and attentive. Often, there are people who use underhand means behind customers’ backs. For instance, if a customer was being rude, the waiter might be revengeful and add stuff into the customer’s food before serving. When I witnessed all these, I really pitied the customer. The job was pressurizing, because the customers are mostly rich people. However, if a Christian waiter is met with the same situation, he would not do the same, he would not do the same to you just because you have offended him.
In the hospital I was the only Christian. From my actions and the things that I say, they would have guessed that I am different from them. Some were accepting and found nothing wrong with that. But some would hang out less with you, thinking that you are different from them. However, there were still some who felt that I was nice to hang out with as an individual, and sometimes felt a little curious which prompted them to interact with me more, to learn more about my religion. So there are differing attitudes from different groups of people.
When I face difficulties at work, I often consult the Bible. Before, I might not know how to solve the problems. After I started believing in the Jesus, I have become more demanding towards my work, because I feel that I cannot be the same as others.
Some non-Christians like to grumble and complain. For example, they might be dissatisfied when the boss gives the year-end bonus, saying that this year’s bonus doesn’t match last year’s, or they will compare who gets more and less. But for us [Christians], we tend to be more understanding. I may feel that it’s ok to have a bit less bonus, because business this year hasn’t been good, and this is helpful for the boss’s business. Or, when we encounter some minor problems, we will try to be more accommodating, and to touch others with our loving care. Some non-Christians have bad habits, after arriving they will first make coffee, surf the Internet, and start their work in the afternoon. We will focus on doing our job well first thing in the morning.
When you encounter difficult problems, you will be able to share them with sisters-in-Christ, and they will even join you in prayers as well. One will always encounter difficulties in life. Regardless of work or daily life, there are bounds to be trials that one must go through. I have been in this sector for about 10 years, there are many problems which we face every day. It does not mean that we as a Christian school do not encounter any problem. We too have our own problems, and some of them are not small either. But the biggest difference is that we will be able to find someone to share and to pray for you. The difficult thing is life is not about the obstacles we face, it is more about the support and encouragement that the people by your side provide.
It’s very important. First, it’s trust. Because you will realise that in general among business people, many are not trustworthy. There are also many who want to get close to you through the faith. But to me, I might not interact with them often on a daily basis, but in times of real trouble, we are willing to help others, including in business. Workers may judge whether the company’s boss, if he is profit-minded or really cares for the workers. While a company seeks profits, it should also look after the workers … When one interacts with colleagues as a Christian, people will get along better, there is greater efficiency in discussing things.
Your church life is different. But, it doesn’t mean we have to separate them, to the point that your Monday through Saturday is different from your Sunday. Why do you do that? Shouldn’t your faith be a consistent route? … But once more and more brothers and sisters realize that it is important to have faithful life even throughout the week, it would make such a difference in the sense that people began to look at our faith differently. They will not just think that you are the ones only do something special on Sundays, on all the other days you are the same as me. Maybe some of us are not as good as you. But now they see difference, they see these people they do live a different life. They don’t try to please the boss, for example, they don’t bribe others. And they come to work on time. They don’t steal company’s money, and they don’t steal company’s time. People normally may not steal money, but most people steal time. But these people [Christians] are solid. These people we need to respect. I think it would play a very significant role in evangelism, especially in Chinese culture.
4. Transforming the Workplace, Transforming the Society: Work as “Service”
I feel that, compared to when I just graduated, I understand more what I actually want in life, and how to do better in my job. The faith has really been a profound influence on me, and such deep influence also affects my subordinates. Yes … just as how Jesus has influenced me, I influence my subordinates and those around me. (Yaqiong, Shenzhen)
After becoming a Christian, I felt that the Lord’s intention was for us to be kind or perfect, to aspire toward sanctity … Because these are wonderful things, I aspire to achieve these … The Bible tells us, we must love one another. Maybe there is too much lacking and imperfection in my life, I have this wish to cultivate sanctity in my life according to what the Bible proclaims.
We were always sad and dull previously. We brood about having lousy parents, lousy jobs, we felt that there was no meaning in life. However, after becoming a Christian, I feel that life is more fulfilling and become more hopeful (shenghuo geng you yiyi, geng you xiwang). I was able to gain different perspectives (buyiyang de quandian). I feel that your working attitude will change because of your own character, you will also become more proactive.
Before, we thought that we only work for ourselves. However, two weeks ago, we went to a seminar, the teacher mentioned that actually we are working full-time. Because we are working, so we are employees. So if we work well, put in our best effort, to help others along as we work, we also serving the Lord … I used to have the attitude of only doing the best for myself. When I was doing too many things and got irritated, my attitude would be quite negative. But if you believe in the Lord, even though this negativity could still be present to some degree, I feel I am uplifted. In the beginning you can’t handle the pressure from work, but now, this limit of yours can increase a little, and you can endure.
Before, I had to conduct inspection, and felt that there should not be favoritism, and should treat everyone the same (yishi tongren)! It doesn’t matter if you are a superior or a normal worker. This is a small matter, but I felt everyone should receive equal treatment. I strove for fairness, justice, and transparency.
After the reforms, people come to have differing views on many issues. But in general, people acknowledge the economy as the main driving force, and early on people were just focused on making money. But right now, even though people are generally more well-to-do and financially stable, their moral values have declined. From what I understand, young people nowadays also have some bad feelings about the society, and they do not have strong values to guide them. This has resulted in immoral acts happening within their circle, affecting themselves, their family, their career, which is definitely a negative impact on the society. And I am worried about that. Therefore, when people with Christian faith stand up in society, this will have positive impact, and I believe that society will then experience positive development.
“Subtle Infiltration”: Social Media and Workplace Evangelism
I posted my baptism pictures on QQ, and everyone was able to view them, as I did not set any restrictions. Many of my former classmates asked me, what are you doing, because there was a certificate. I told them that I was baptized. Then they asked me why I needed to be baptized? What is baptism? I told them that it’s a procedure to becoming a Christian. They then asked me why I believe in Christianity, you are a Chinese and you still believe in it? Two days after I saw the comment, I told them that this is my choice and they have to respect that. After that one friend told me that she hoped that I could bring her to Christianity as well.
There are also non-believers that are hidden somewhere in the group. One of them is actually a Buddhist. I feel that it is alright and it is actually very good. We can try to influence him with what we are doing. He might be thinking, ‘let’s see how long you all can last with this, it might just be a one-time thing for a short whole.’ But in fact, we are going to do this for 10 over years. I do not know when he will convert and believe in God, but I will pray for him.
When some people share some good things, I will share them in my other networks, or I will “like” and “support” on WeChat. I always do such things. Others may not know I am a Christian, but will ask, do you believe in this? I will then tell them indirectly.
If I do have some thoughts and feelings, I may put them in the private domain, and will not necessarily share them with others. I want to avoid putting pressure on my non-Christian friends, and not let them think that I am evangelizing openly through social media. I don’t quite like to do this, and in any case I want to maintain our friendship. They do know me and actually many friends know that I am a Christian, and I really treasure maintaining our relationship. But at the same time, I also hope that they will get to know about the faith. So, I am still exploring what’s the appropriate way”.
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Lim, F.K.G. “Serving the Lord”: Christianity, Work, and Social Engagement in China. Religions 2019, 10, 196. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030196
Lim FKG. “Serving the Lord”: Christianity, Work, and Social Engagement in China. Religions. 2019; 10(3):196. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030196Chicago/Turabian Style
Lim, Francis K. G. 2019. "“Serving the Lord”: Christianity, Work, and Social Engagement in China" Religions 10, no. 3: 196. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030196