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Monday, April 3, 2017

Timing is … Everything

One of the best parts of my job is the privilege of sharing my faith. On my talk show. This fits well with the mission of our radio station. Several of my coworkers and I can readily discuss the Christian faith off air as well.

Not everyone who works for our corporate organization has the same belief system as I do. Discretion must be used when having spiritual conversations with individuals who are not interested in this. Boundaries must be set and appreciated.

At the same time, respect is necessary for all views. A difficult example of this happened to me several years back. 

Our Christian-formatted radio station retained a company to help refine our programming and promotions. The lead person on this team was a fellow believer. But one of his main associates was not. In discussing how we might best promote the station, this other team member and I engaged in a discussion about the uniqueness of our format. The Christian programmed station has a defined rallying point. Listeners tune in to have their faith encouraged and advanced. Jesus is their rallying point. Promotions that don’t respect that can become crass and turn our audience off.

Let me give an extreme example. We know where to find our listeners each week. Most of them attend church. Most churches have communion. Maybe we could get our station logo imprinted on communion wafers! This, of course, is so totally out of bounds that no clear thinking soul would ever suggest it. But you can see the point. Know the boundaries.

On a ride to the airport with this unbelieving corporate consultant, I was explaining to him that this spiritual love affair with Jesus is core to our listeners. My comments included some background of the faith. As we were approaching the airport, this gentleman looked at me and firmly said, “STOP! I don’t want to hear any more.”

I had hit a nerve. So I paused and then responded that we were only having conversation about what our listeners believed and why we must approach them differently. Mere words, of sorts. But not to him. The conversation ended there.

What reminded me of this story was a column written by Sarah Baird, a National Recruiter at Oxford Digital. It’s titled, “Separation of God and…Business?” Sarah claims that a topic she sees most often on Linked In is to keep your personal life off this web connecting service. She goes on to share her beliefs as a follower of Jesus and why this is an integral part of who she is. No doubt that is true.

Sarah even quotes a Bible passage about the “Great Commission” and how this message of Jesus was to send followers as missionaries throughout the world. Including the workplace. Her passion is to be respected.

BUT…stories abound of individuals complaining of zealots trying to “force religion down their throat.” Instead of a winsome appeal, the intended audience is turned off. And the word could go out in the company to stay away from this “Christian.”

I understand that. Regardless of your belief or unbelief, I am willing and interested to hear your story. Even better, let’s discuss the fine points of our beliefs! If you’re willing. But not all are ready for these conversations.

To be clear, the Bible does tell people of faith, “Preach the Good News. Be ready at all times, and tell people what they need to do. Tell them when they are wrong. Encourage them with great patience and careful teaching,” (2 Timothy 4:2, NCV)

But be gracious in your approach. As any good storyteller knows, “Timing is everything.”

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays from 4-6 PM Central. To listen outside the Chicago area, tune to for live streaming or podcasts, or download the AM1160 app.

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