Can You Pray at the Boardroom Table? (Mar-Apr 2003)

By Matt Dabbs

by Mark Hodges
March – April, 2003

The moment was a bit surreal, but extremely powerful. On Monday March 3rd at 3:33pm, I sat in a conference room with ten other people in prayer lifting up to God our concerns regarding Iraq, asking for safety for our soldiers, and praying for God’s blessing on our president. The entire moment was surreal in that we had two other locations conferenced-in by phone and each person whether in the conference room or over the phone prayed and shared scripture. The moment was powerful in that we were simply a group of believers making our requests known to God. It was also powerful in that is was a national day of prayer designed to ask for God’s guidance in this present crisis.

This scene is happening more and more in organizations across the country. The organization for which I work delivers marketing and data services to Fortune 100 companies across the globe. It is an organization that generates annual revenues to the tune of $1 billion each year. And it is also an organization where God is working in the life of the people who work there.

Five years ago, had you told me that I would be sharing prayer time at work with work associates, I would have called you crazy. However, this group of people, all from different backgrounds, is a group within my workplace that has committed to a weekly bible study. We have also committed that we will let our Christianity permeate the way we deal with people and situations at work. Oh, there are those who are completely unabashedly non-Christian. But in much the same way God revealed believers to Jonah, he has revealed believers within the organization where I work.

This is a shock to a system engrained in my head for many years growing up. For years, I was taught:
• The professional workplace is full of money-hungry God-hating rats
• Talking about Christ at work = persecution
• Even if there are believers at work, unless they believe like you they are not “real” believers

My experience has been that all of the above do not hold true in all cases. While there are isolated instances where these occur, I have found people in general to be seeking to fill the spot in their lives that only God can fill. People care about their families, their children, and want to have a “happy” life. In many cases, the last part of that equation is where they are misled. Higher salaries, better cars, more leisure time and stability are just temporary fills for the part of our souls that is only satisfied by a relationship with the creator.

How do we make an impact? How do we become a magnet that attracts others to the power of the living God? Let me offer two suggestions to consider when you take your relationship to God into the workplace.

• Realize that attracting people to the living God does not necessarily mean that they must be converted to your way of thinking

This was a fundamental roadblock that took me years to get beyond. My background taught me that religion was exclusive rather than inclusive. Conversion meant conversion to my way of thinking rather than conversion to Christ. However, as I have continued to work and be around people who are searching for God, I have realized that Jesus truly did come to call all to repentance. In other words, I had to learn that many of my “non-negotiables” were not found in scripture. This was evident to me in the prayer time I shared at work the other day. Over 20 people from different backgrounds but all with faith in the same God can make for powerful prayer.

• Understand that discipleship is a key component to the marketing aspect of the church

I spend most of my days helping large companies develop strategic marketing to drive bottom-line profit. In doing so, I have seen that society has an expectation of how to be addressed when being sold. For example, we expect flashy commercials that give us the meat of the issue in 20 seconds or less. We expect print ads to catch our eye. We critique Super Bowl commercials (almost more than the game itself). When solicitations hit our mailbox, they had better be compelling or we simply will not open them. And let’s face it… few people like phone solicitations.

As we carry out the Great commission, we are in essence performing a marketing function, albeit the most important one with which we will ever be involved. Face it – when someone tells you about a product, they better know the product well and believe in it (Michael Jordan can talk all day about Nike, but the fact that he wears the shoes makes people believe in the product). In the same way, there are too many Christians who have taken on Christ without counting the cost and therefore they really are not completely bought-in to the “product.” Ours is a “product” with a great reward, but a substantial cost. Jesus described the price tag in Matthew 16:24 – Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

Discipleship is truly a cost we must pay if we are to perpetuate Christ in the workplace. Every time I read Matthew 16:24, I am reminded of a line from a DC Talk song – “Taking up my daily cross has brought its share of splinters.” Discipleship of Jesus is costly. Jesus taught over and over that choosing him would mean disappointments in life, challenges and, well, cost.

Discipleship, however, is the component of us that will unlock more doors in the workplace than debating religious issues or guessing as to someone’s allegiance. It opens up dialogue. It provides us courage to speak about our savior. It drives us to study and pray in quiet on our own time so that we can provide answers for those at work who have homes falling apart, children in trouble, and those who are still trying to fill their heart with things that only God can satisfy.

The fact of the matter is that our society is one that expects marketing in many forms. Many churches “market” ministries, services and teaching without ever touching on the fact that discipleship of Christ is the first most important step in carrying out the Great Commission. Of course, it does not make for good headlines to advertise that one must pick up a cross daily. However, it is in that daily cross carrying that Christians know we truly find freedom, release and salvation.

Contact Mark Hodges: [markhodges@comcast.net]New Wineskins

Mark Hodges is the Strategic Marketing Manager for Acxiom’s InfoBase data products. A veteran of the broadcast and cable industry, Mark has designed and implemented marketing strategies for mass markets as well as direct marketing. Mark’s current responsibilities include strategic market and product development for Acxiom’s InfoBase Data Products. Mark has been a featured speaker at trade shows and symposiums around the country, and has been published in various industry magazines including DM Review and CatalogAge. Mark holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri, and completed his undergraduate studies from Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas.

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Profile photo of Matt DabbsThis author published 1583 posts in this site.
Matt is the preaching minister at the Auburn Church of Christ in Auburn, Alabama. He and Missy have been married 12 years and are raising two wonderful boys, Jonah and Elijah. Matt is passionate about reaching and discipling young adults, small groups, and teaching. Matt is currently the editor and co-owner of Wineskins.org.

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