What of the



Sharing the Joy



Excerpt from Chapter 4 of The Power of Everyday Missionaries by Clayton Christensen, Share the Truth at Work in a Proud and Confident Way

Work comprises the venues in which we meet and interact with most of the people in our lives who are not of our faith.* Most of us spend a lot of time "at work." And yet it is. broadly believed that talking about the Church with others at work is awkward and often not appropriate. This chapter has two simple purposes. First, I want to show how critical it is that we learn how to share the gospel at work. Of all the battles in the war that we are fighting against Satan, this is a big one-and in many ways we are retreating from this battle, ceding this venue to the adversary. My second purpose is to review the obvious: The way that Heber C. Kimball did missionary work-standing on a box on the public square and giving a sermon-is one way to do the work. But it is not the only way. There are other ways to be bold and direct in sharing the gospel that work much better at work.

Some will say after reading this chapter that "Clayton Christensen can share the gospel at work because his life is very different from mine. He has become somewhat successful in his profession. Nobody will fire him if he talks about the Church at work. I'm in a very different situation, working my way up from the bottom. If I say some of the things Clay says, I'll get fired or at a minimum they'll label me as someone who is different."

It's hard to know whether indeed Clay is an unusual case. All I can say is that I have had four different careers: seven years as a graduate student, five years as a consultant, five years as an entrepreneur, and now twenty years in academia. In each I was not prominent or successful in the beginning, and in some of them I left those professions in obscurity, too. But in each profession I have tried to share the gospel with as many people as I could, regardless of my position. In every job, I've tried to learn what works and what doesn't in sharing the gospel, so that I might be a better missionary. This is what I offer to you in this chapter.

I say with conviction at the outset that when Christ said, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33), He meant what He said. I have felt literally that my personal abilities have grown beyond what my normal abilities could otherwise have been because I have sought to contribute to building the kingdom of God even while I have been at work.


Because work is where we can most readily meet and engage in conversations about the gospel, Satan is very committed to stop this from happening. To convey how Satan stands in our way, I'll start this chapter by recounting a "conversation" I had with Satan or one of his colleagues. Don't be alarmed every time Satan tempts us, we're having a conversation of sorts, as he speaks to our spirit trying to convince us to do something wrong, and our spirit says in turn that we are not going to do what he suggested. I have, with apologies to the renowned Christian author C. S. Lewis, attempted to replicate the style of his wonderful book The Screwtape Letters. It is a "conversation" in our minds that occurs many times every day between members of the Church and the demon who is trying to convince us not to do what is right. I'll give this particular adversary the name "Sharpfork."

"Wait a minute," I thought to Sharpfork. "What you're telling me is that when I'm at work, I should not talk to anybody about my beliefs. It isn't politically correct, and people will be offended if I do. Religion must be a private affair. Do I have it right?"

"Clay, you have it exactly right," Sharpfork responded.

"But Jesus Christ wants me to share His gospel with everybody including those at work!"

"Of course He wants this," Sharpfork retorted. "Who wouldn't?"

"Well, the problem is this," I complained. "Suppose that I follow your advice, and don't talk to anyone about the gospel at work. For sixty hours each 'week (five days times twelve hours, including commuting), you are putting missionary work out of bounds. Right? The problem then is that on Saturday I'm supposed to spend that time with my family, and they are all Mormons. And on Sunday I spend my time with my family and at church, where everybody is a Mormon. So what you're saying to me is that except for those seven days every week, I can share the gospel with others. Do I have it right?"

"Exactly," Sharpfork answered. "That is the beauty of it!" Although most of us have not framed it as such, almost all of us have had this conversation and this, in turn, causes us to feel that we face a paradox, knowing that sharing the gospel with others would please the Lord, and yet not seeing a way to do it.

If the prohibition against talking about religion at work were a preference of executives, then different companies would have different views on it. And if the injunction against religious discussions were based in a worry that they would hurt employees' productivity, then discussions about other beliefs like politics, ethnic differences, sports, and so on would also be viewed as detracting from productivity in the workplace. The fact that the prohibition applies only to religion, and that the ban on religious discussion seems to be in force at nearly every workplace, leads me to believe that this particular cultural belief is the work of Satan. I see no other plausible explanation.

Why does it matter to Satan what we talk about when we're at work or school? It is a continued attack in the war that Satan initiated in heaven against God's plan of free agency. Having lost the first round in the premortal existence, Satan has a different strategy for foiling free agency on the earth. For God's plan to be fulfilled, each of us needs to be confronted with the chance to choose between good and evil; otherwise we could not act for ourselves. As Lehi noted: "Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other" (2 Nephi 2:16; emphasis added).

Knowing that God's plan required that Satan be allowed to tempt us, how can Satan use this to his advantage in his continued war against free agency? He simply needs to convince the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that it is awkward and politically incorrect to talk about God's plan with others at work. If Satan achieves this objective, then many, many of God's children will be enticed by one (Satan) and not the other (members), and it will be harder for people to choose the right.

Satan often appears to be winning this round of his war against free agency. Gary Lawrence and I independently have observed that far less than 10 percent of the Saints of God are inviting their neighbors, classmates, and work colleagues to learn of the gospel of Jesus Christ. People can't act for themselves if the Latter-day Saints close their mouths, and this is exactly what Satan is accomplishing. This is a big deal.


Recognizing that the fear of talking about our beliefs is a construct of Satan has given me courage. I acknowledge Satan's threats about discussing beliefs at work and you should too. But do not be deterred. What I have learned in this process is that there are two fundamentally different ways to be a missionary: through word and through deed. The first is to explain what the gospel is and how it has been restored to the earth. The second is to explain the gospel by overtly using it to solve important problems at work. Both ways give you chances to testify.


By Word

When we use the words share the gospel, our instincts often are actually to share things homemade cookies, pass-along cards, copies of the Book of Mormon, and so on. This mode of sharing has been hard for me to initiate at work because it disrupts rather than fits into the flow of my work. This way of sharing at work brings attention to the actions themselves and can actually even detract from the content of the gospel.


*For brevity, I designate our professional pursuits, our study at school or college, and all of our work in community organizations as "at work."