The constant barrage of cursing crashes on your ears each day with such regularity that you become so familiar with this kind of language that it no longer seems just familiar, but sits as a silent addition to your vocabulary. It only takes the right set of circumstances, on the right day, in the right season of life, to all of a sudden jump out of the silent, but familiar, and into the active and practiced. You have given into course talk, a sharp tongue, and you have lost your witness.
The company you work for has hired someone who is not capable of doing their job well. It isn’t their fault, they should not have been hired in the first place. It becomes hard to see that they are doing their best through such glaring incompetence. The lack is stacking up, and its affecting everyone. Most specifically, it is affecting you. This new addition has upset the harmony you worked so hard to achieve and you’re not the only one that notices. Soon the hush talk at work has developed into a full-blown narrative that wages a loyalty war against bosses, company policy, and this poor bloke. Unfortunately, it is a blind and worthless talk that is only adding to the problem. The problem is, you engaged in gossip with others and rather than coming alongside of this person, and seeking solutions to actual problems in the office, you became one of the complainers, and you have lost your witness. Now what do you do? People knew you were a Christian believer. People knew you once spoke for Godly truth. They are trying to figure out what happened to you, yet they are happy to count you among themselves in complaint and course talk. You know this, too, and because you know this you are likely to experience a lot of condemnation and workplace confusion of identity.
Three Things to Remember
There is therefore now no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). The most important thing to remember when you feel that you have done something to lose your witness is to remember where you stand with God. A.W. Tozer said, “The most important thing we can think is what we think about God." Where the Christian stands with God is forgiven, not condemned. Because our right-standing (righteousness) before God is based upon Christ’s complete obedience, we are not condemned in our disobedience. You must taste this freedom, love, and forgiveness first and foremost. No other reality clarifies our identity in the gospel as effectively as this one.
Decided if you want to make a change. Because of Christ’s amazing grace to us, the fact that He calls us brother and friend, and that He does not condemn us in our sin, our hearts should be motivated to not live like this anymore. When we see the preciousness of His forgiveness, that should cast a dark contrasting shadow on this sin. Pray and repent, telling God that you do not want to do this anymore, and you need His power to help. This is the act of repentance, and it is precisely how you turn away from negative emotions and behaviors and experience the unmerited favor of God that we call grace
Walk in newness of life (Romans 6). There are three forms of battles we face at work. Sometimes we face all three at once. We face battles of circumstance, battles of our own flesh, and spiritual battles against Satan and his crew. The Apostle Paul reminds us that because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ we are free, and we can experience freedom even in these battles. In Chapter 6 of Romans Paul says, “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” He goes on to say, “Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.” The way to repair your witness at work is not through white-knuckled determination (although God loves determined obedience). The way to find purpose at work, and the way to walk away from the behaviors and emotions that have caused you to lose your witness, is to join God on His mission at your work. He has placed you there as his man or woman. While you are simultaneously a sinner and righteous before God, you are his ambassador and the benefactor of His grace and power. In this passage, the Christian life (even at work) is identified with the death of Christ (we die with Him) and the resurrected life of Christ (we have been raised with him). When you fail, repeat these three things. Decide each day to walk with God, in His power, and to present yourself as an ambassador of His kingdom.
You may have to have some conversations with co-workers to help them understand that even as a person of faith, you stumble. You may have to have an uncomfortable conversation with a boss and apologize about not taking appropriate action. You may have to live with the fact that others won’t forgive you, and won’t look past this––even still, God's grace is sufficient. Accountability and brotherhood will help you immensely as you fight this battle. One of the most helpful resources you can get and go through with a group of friends is Tim Chester’s book You Can Change. I encourage group participation for this resource.
This world is hard and it is broken. Our reaction to how the brokenness of the word impacts us shows the gap between our confessional faith and our functional faith. God will use this as a means to grow us.
What are your experiences with losing your witness and what helped you experience renewal?