Live your work life well

Okay, so here’s the challenge. You're in your early thirties, having worked hard to establish yourself as a strong, capable, independent woman. Your identity is found in self and your concept of success is closely aligned to job title or pay packet.

And then, by the wonderful grace of God, it all changes. You’re still within the confines of the corporate world, but your perspective, your motivation, your reason for being has completely changed as the blinkers are yanked away and you are exposed to the true meaning of life. That’s right—you’ve met Jesus in all his glory and grace. You've become a Christian!

So what happens next? How does this massive change affect your work life?

Now we know our God is a great God, and his plans for our lives are perfectly authored to mould and shape us into the new creation that we have become in Christ—an instant reality, and at the same time a work in progress.

In my immaturity, I wasn’t sure how I was to behave as a Christian to bring honour to God. In fact, when I first became a Christian, I remember distinctly wondering if I needed to give up my seat on the train to anyone who was standing, simply because I am called to serve others and show them God’s love. Thankfully, a Christian friend led by example and I continue to sit on a train if the opportunity arises to this very day, saving me from that fateful condition known as commuter fatigue!

I was one of those annoyingly enthusiastic loud and proud Christians who couldn’t (and still can’t) hold back when it came to talking about Jesus and the grace of the gospel. So the challenge for me wasn’t balancing my Christian life with my secular work in terms of using my time; it wasn’t even knowing how to just be quietly submissive within the workplace because I am a Christian. No, the challenge for me was knowing how to be different and distinct; knowing how to apply God’s teaching to every aspect of my life and to have a reasoned, well thought out and godly approach to everything I do.

Whilst I slip up often, I thought I would share with you what I’ve learnt so far in terms of women in corporate leadership. I am by no means a senior corporate leader but I have, during my career, been called to lead and direct mixed teams. As one who understands God’s created order of things and who recognises that men and women, whilst equally loved, valued and capable, are called to serve in different ways, I wondered what this should look like in my job.

Now I know that God is clear on leadership within the church, but when it comes to secular work I’m commanded to work as though working for the Lord. I didn’t take this to mean I should only seek out roles that do not involve leadership. I actually took this to mean that in whatever role I do, I should do it for God’s glory, behaving in the way that he calls me to behave.

The realisation that I came to is that my secular leadership style should be a godly, patient, respectful, loving style, not unlike the style I would expect from my male Christian counterparts.

Let me give you an example. I often adopt a coaching style rather than a directive style of leadership. Instead of heading an initiative even though I am responsible for it, I seek to bring people along on the journey. I am always seeking opportunities to encourage and build people up when they work well. When it comes to my male colleagues, I am very conscious of the difficulties that some males have with female authority, even to this day—that terrible sin in the garden is still so alive and active—so I attempt to modify my style so as not to usurp or disrespect my male colleagues.

You see, my first priority is to my God and I want those I lead, and those who watch me lead, to see me as someone who is different and to ask me what makes me that way.

I can’t tell you the number of conversations I’ve had with people—both men and women—who have been under my leadership or who have seen my work ethic and have asked me about my motivation. In fact, I am recognised in my role as someone who has strong and consistent values. This character trait has allowed me to manage very sensitive and difficult matters within my workplace, simply because of my reputation. I am trusted.

Friends, whether you are called to lead men in your job or whether you are called to sit under the leadership of men, in whatever you do, do it for the Lord. He not only tells us how, but he shows us how.

And pray! Pray that in whatever you are called to do in your working day, you would be distinctly different and authentic for Jesus’ sake: different as an employee, different as a colleague, different as a team member, different as a woman in a leadership role. My experience has been that God answers this prayer with a very loud, resounding yes!

People will notice that you are different and will be attracted to you like moths to a light, which will create opportunities for you to share your faith with those in great need. After all, our work is for the Lord and it is a matter of life and death, regardless of what our day-to-day job involves, and those we work with are often ensnared by the satanic lie of career, aggressive independence and material fulfilment.

Live your work life well, my friends.


Vikki Napier works in a secular human resources role four days a week. She spends her ‘spare’ day at Guildford Anglican Church coordinating ESL or involving herself in outreach and other ministries. She really loves the eclectic, multicultural area of Guildford and all the wonderful food and coffee that is associated with it.