Bridging the work faith divide

A Case Study

Jo Wilton, Senior Pastor
C3 Church Miranda

Jo Wilton’s journey towards the integration of her faith and work began in an interview room at the Sydney Police Centre when she was 20. Back then she kept her faith private and there was a clear demarcation between her beliefs and her working life.

As a young constable with the Federal Police, she was interviewing a man who’d committed fraud and had spent much of the money overseas. He’d become a Christian and turned himself in so he could pay back the money and ‘face the music’. Every time Jo’s sergeant left the room, the man pummelled her with questions. Finally, she relented and admitted she was a Christian. ‘He got me thinking.’

Jo left the police force and began studying law part-time. She’d always wanted to be a corporate lawyer and, as a mature-aged law student, the path to her goal seemed clear.

However, the Christianity she’d embraced came with a social conscience, and the road branched

‘It was really a dual pathway of developing my Christian faith and also figuring out, “What did work look like for me?”’ As an investigator with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission, Jo worked with Christians who’d formed a weekly fellowship group in the workplace, and joined them in their outreach.

‘I then started to look for this integration wherever I went, so I didn’t see faith and work as separate parts of my life.’

Until two years ago, Jo was a practising solicitor working for Anti-Slavery Australia and the NSW Bar Association. She has also run a voiceover business for more than 20 years. ‘I don’t see these roles as separate from who I am as a Christian but rather as part of my life in which I use my skills within the church and our society as a whole.’

Jo has been the pastor of a small C3 church in the Sutherland Shire in New South Wales for the last eight-and-a-half years but doesn’t believe the ultimate goal for a Christian is to be in Christian ministry. In the second half of 2019, she will offer church members the opportunity to share their thoughts about ‘God in my week’ – a title she chose over ‘Faith and work’ and ‘God in my workplace’ to ensure people’s discussion of ‘work’ is not limited to paid employment. The series aims to draw out a variety of ways of working and their worth – to help her congregation appreciate the value of everybody’s contribution.

To see each day as a new chance to pursue the plans God has and to make changes in their world and work

‘I think the healthiest churches are full of people with diverse backgrounds, multi-generational, multi-skilled, and flourishing in their different giftings.’ Jo says it’s also important for Christians to be in the ‘real world’ in workplaces emulating Christ’s love and responding to challenges with the fruits of the spirit. She encourages people, including people who feel stuck in their roles, to see each day as a new chance to pursue the plans God has for them and to make changes in their world and work.

‘If we’re spirit-led people, if we’re listening and following the voice of God, we can get direction for our work and for our businesses and for every aspect of our life that’s going to help us walk into a flourishing life.’

She says it is critical to support people in their work because the faith-work divide can be crippling. ‘If people are feeling as though they come to church on a Sunday and they hear about the Word and, on Monday morning, they head in to work and they feel lost, or they feel alone – I think that’s the worst possible thing really.’

The church’s Connect Groups are helping to bridge the divide, she explains, drawing smaller groups of people together to pray and talk through challenges – many of them work-related. ‘It’s important to know that at lunchtime you can pick up the phone to someone in your Connect Group or someone else in the church and say, “Oh my gosh, I’ve just had the worst morning,” or send a text to someone and say, “Hey, can you pray for me because this day’s gone pear-shaped?”’ She’s committed to showing ordinary people how their seemingly small actions, like prayerfulness and kindness in the workplace, can contribute to God’s purposes.

I don’t segment Sunday from the rest of the week, I feel I’m living a life of purpose no matter what I’m doing

‘This person’s contribution to the body of Christ, and to society as a whole, is just as important as somebody who is working for a Christian NGO and travelling the world.’ Jo says people often think God is asking them to change their life, leave their job, or to go overseas, when God is really whispering that they should call someone, have coffee with them or pray for them. ‘Because I don’t segment Sunday from the rest of the week, I feel I’m living a life of purpose no matter what I’m doing because, at any given time, I have the sense there could be a divine appointment.’

She says we’re all searching for purpose in our lives and most people in the prime of their working life are going to spend 40-plus hours a week involved in their work. ‘If people can sense the calling of God in their work, just as much as in their prayer life, or their spiritual development, then holistically, and I know this personally, I have more hope in my life that I am living for God.

If we can have that revelation about our work, it really gives us a sense of living on purpose, for God, every day

‘If we’re really living our lives in God’s will, He’s got you in your job to bless someone or to pray for someone and to plant a seed in their life that we might never find out about this side of Heaven. If we can have that revelation about our work, it really gives us a sense of living on purpose, for God, every day. And that helps on the really dreary days when you’re asking, “What am I doing?”’

 

‘If we’re really living our lives in God’s will, He’s got you in your job to bless someone or to pray for someone and to plant a seed in their life that we might never find out about this side of Heaven. If we can have that revelation about our work, it really gives us a sense of living on purpose, for God, every day. And that helps on the really dreary days when you’re asking, “What am I doing?”’

Marjorie Lewis-Jones, on behalf of NCLS Research

Marjorie Lewis-Jones, conducted this case study interview, as part of the Faith and Work Integration Study by NCLS Research.

Learn more about

C3 Church Miranda

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