Tag Archives: Starbucks

Overcoming the fear of getting out there

Do YOU have something to say? You could be a guest contributor, too. Here is a piece from Howard Pinder struggling with how to make connections when his Christian friends have strict rules of engagement.

I remember the first time I got thrown out of Starbucks for trying to post a “religious” flyer. I was devastated. I thought I was a bold person, but being rejected like that got to me. The employee wasn’t particularly rude but all sorts of feelings rushed to the surface as I awkwardly left, until I was practically in tears on the sidewalk. I was suddenly awash in doubts and thought I might just be too afraid to put myself out there again. I took heart though. My mentor reminded me that evangelism is about looking for people who are looking for Jesus. And they are out there. I had been out there once too.

Lately I have been working on an events team. Hosting events is another way I am trying to put myself “out there.”  Our team has had some good ideas. I loved advertising the “unorthodox art” show we had last Saturday. It’s fun. There are a lot of reasons we’re doing it, but the main reason is because we want people to find out about Circle of Hope and we want them to know Jesus. We’re not screening them at the door for receptivity, but we’re making friends and we’re friends with Jesus. It is a simple connection. At least I think it is obvious. Recently someone questioned my wisdom because I wanted to promote Jesus and Circle of Hope in our own events. They were afraid we’d offend somebody. Their questions offended ME! They’d promote any unorthodox artist in the neighborhood, but don’t let Jesus get in there because promoting him would be offensive.

I explained why I thought we should promote Circle of Hope and Jesus in all of our events in one way or another. My main argument was: “Knowing Jesus and helping others to know Him is the most important thing about life.” My friend told me that my thinking puts me in the minority. (Is that true?) Their main argument was that bringing out Jesus was not being sensitive. They said if I was really conscious of others I would see that dropping Jesus on unsuspecting people was not the best way to express my faith.

Well, I can imagine having a problem between Jesus and people. But why would I predict that? Besides, sometimes when we claim we are being sensitive we are actually being fearful – fearful of being labeled, fearful of rejection, fearful of turning someone away from faith because we are fearful we are just that bad! It’s not like I was suggesting I get on a soapbox and preach condemnation and promise people hell (I’m not even sure where one gets a soapbox, these days!). What’s the problem with being who I am?

I hear a lot of fear when I talk about revealing my faith right out there in public. We have all heard about the stereotypes of Christians causing more harm than good. Maybe we don’t want to be associated with that type of expressing. But I don’t want to live my life as a reaction to misguided Evangelicals, either. I want to live through my relationship with Jesus. My fears run deep, but I want to take heart and overcome them with Jesus, not just get run around by them. I want to act out of a deep assurance that I am safe, and out of my new security in the fact that I will spend eternal life with God. What could make us afraid after knowing that?

Let me be clear here. I’m not saying, “Let’s get out there and see how many people we can  coerce into being a Christian!” I’m talking about speaking freely about the truth of Jesus as it has been revealed to us.  How does your relationship with Jesus make a difference in your life? What, exactly, are you protecting people from by never talking about that? Do you really love the people you claim you are being sensitive to if you aren’t willing to tell them the truth?

Maybe my experiences are a big anomaly; maybe they aren’t indicative of the state of your faith. But what do you think? I think we’re too afraid to get out there. I’m afraid, too. I don’t want to condemn anyone who is digging in their heels, since I suppose there are more reasons than I could imagine for that behavior. But I do feel held back when you hold back. I feel out on the limb when you tell me I shouldn’t get out there. I think we need to confront this compulsive fear in ourselves.

Jesus does not condemn us for messing up his mission. When I came to Jesus after feeling like a failure outside Starbucks, he was tender with me. I felt like He took my hand and said, “All will be well if you keep following me.” That’s the Jesus I want to show people. I feel compelled to get out there and show them. I echo Paul when he says that he must express what he’s received and express it boldly. We are all grappling with this in our own way. When, in our grappling, we tamp down someone else’s enthusiasm, we might be acting out of fear and blocking Jesus’ mission. The only way through our fears is to get out there, with Jesus right beside us.

These older posts might interest you, too:

Getting Out There in the Face of Fear http://rodwhitesblog.wordpress.com/2013/01/14/getting-out-there/

Henry Tanner Lets Jesus into PAFA: http://rodwhitesblog.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/henry-tanner-lets-jesus-into-pafa/

Winning the Right to Be Heard: http://rodwhitesblog.wordpress.com/2012/01/16/winning-the-right-to-be-heard/

Labor Day: You matter. What you do matters.

A few thoughts on Labor Day to answer a common question: Can I do the job I am supposed to do, can I think as I am supposed to think as defined by my employer and still be a Christian?  Can I dare to serve Jesus without reserve and still have a normal job?

Yes. When we do our regular duties, they are made holy because God is with us in the process and we are in God’s world. We don’t do anything that does not matter. No matter what person or institution claims to own us, we know better; we are children of God.

We can go to work and receive whatever comes as full of possibilities. For from [Christ] and through him and to him are all things (Romans 11:36).

On the active side, we can do whatever we are doing at the moment to God’s glory, meaning we do it as an act or service, or obedience, or hope, or whatever. Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

How can I be a Christian at work? Part of it has to do with how you see work. Are you God’s at work? Do you do your work with God in mind? Do you see the workplace like God does? It all makes a huge difference.

In Christ, work is no longer a necessary evil. It is now an opportunity, just like everything else.  “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Colossians 3:17). The work doesn’t make me who I am, I make the work serve my deepest purposes, no matter what it is. I can be who I am in it.

Jesus is who he is in his work! When he was doing his work, he never “went to work.” All the various things he did were about being who he is and doing what gave him opportunity. Christ did everything his Father commanded until he could honestly say, “It is finished” on the cross. “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work(John 4:34-5)…. “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working” (John 5:19-21).

Does Jesus live to work or work to live? He does both. He was born to do his work. And he says he is fed by the work he does. We are called to share that ongoing work of re-creation in every generation. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world (John 17:18 ). When we show up at our jobs, our cells, our PM Team rehearsal, our work day on the community garden we’re there to honor God in what we do and in how we do it — or not.

Three general ideas on how to be a Christian at work

Let your life speak

Go to work tomorrow or next month or next year and do your absolute best. Be the best employee, the best manager, the best counter person you can be. Be known as the most honest, most humble, most ethical, most competent person in your field. And do all that not to merely advance your own career, but to advance God’s fame. It makes every day worth living.

If you desperately want to make a difference in life, but you have a habit of not showing up to work on time, or you don’t return calls or complete assignments, people will not think God looks that great, probably, should you ever reveal you know Jesus. Being a slovenly worker is why some people never mention Jesus at work; they expect to give Jesus a bad name.

At the same time, don’t get crazy, thinking your work is all Jesus has going for him. But even though the Lord is not relying totally on your perfection, you matter — and you have the same job as Jesus! He probably would not have been a pastor or missionary the way we think of them; he probably would have been more like you. He probably would have worked at Target or Starbucks, since he would inevitably meet everyone on the planet there.

Look forward to problems

You might know some way-too-happy Christians who go to work thinking that since they love Jesus, everything is going to work out. It’s not. You might miss your quota. You might lose a client. You might get fired. You might have tensions with your boss or your co-workers. These things don’t mean that Jesus doesn’t love you or that God isn’t on your side or that God is punishing you for that sin you can’t forget. The problems are just the inevitable result of living in a sin-ridden world; thorns infest the ground. Work doesn’t always work the way it should. So have a big idea of how you are a re-creator with God but be realistic about sin, too. Jesus hasn’t come back yet.

Every problem is an opportunity to rely on Jesus to redeem it. Problems are what keep us redeemers in business. So if you work with problem people in a problematic place that might be the best of all possible worlds for the redemption project. If your work is hard, that might be an advantage to your deeper purposes.

Keep the Sabbath

Rest is crucial to work. Rest is the ying to the yang of action. It is part of how we work. I’m not talking about the bifurcated idea of work-life balance, or work and leisure. That’s one of those binary descriptions of things that got popular in the 1800s and we have not shaken off the definitions yet. We have a calling that is 24/7 and we express ourselves in various ways. We might rest from our labor, but that does not mean we are not generally at work. We don’t find ourselves in our leisure and do work to pay for it.

Resting is elemental to working and working is elemental to resting. Without rest we do not work right, without work we don’t rest right. Most of us are so tied up in our music, video, e-mail, social networks, entertainment, texts and general busyness that we tend to forget the art of resting. Maybe the best thing we can do for ourselves, for our employer, for our careers, and for the glory of God is to set apart one day in our week when we unplug — when the cell phone is off, when we don’t check email, when we take a really long nap, when we worship and pray, when we take a walk or watch a sunset.

If your work obligations don’t permit a 24-hour period of rest every week, then consider taking a personal day every month for solitude and silence and rest. Why wouldn’t you? Your co-workers will take personal days when a pet dies or when a girlfriend breaks up with them or when they are hung over from a long weekend. We don’t need to feel guilty for taking one day out of every 30 to refresh our souls through intimate communion with God.

God is with us in the process and we are in God’s world. We don’t do anything that does not matter. No matter what person or institution claims to own us, we know better; we are children of God. So here’s my blessing for you on Labor Day: Therefore, my beloved [family], be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58).