A professional is an individual with a certain skill or talent, who uses their natural or acquired skills to make a living or to earn an income.
Deuteronomy 8:18 reminds the Christian professional that it is indeed, God, who has given us the ‘power’ – i.e. the talents, health, knowledge, strength and wisdom to ‘make wealth’ – or to become a professional.
How can a Christian make use of their talents to become a successful and fulfilled ‘professional’? First, we need to diligently examine both our character and talents – including our strengths and weaknesses – to identify the profession we are seeking to work in, so as to make a living. Once identified, the next step is to ask oneself “what qualifications do I need to acquire to become the professional I desire to be”.
Once qualified, the ongoing question a Christian professional should ask is “how can I align my faith in Christ with my professional life, and maintain my integrity at all times? Titus 2: 7 states “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works and – in your teaching – show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned”.
From the above, in the workplace, and everywhere, a Christian professional is required to be good, i.e. to not compromise on our integrity, to not become embroiled in scandal, gossip, lies or to act in a way we know is against the Word of God – and 2 Timothy 3:16 evidences that we truly do ‘know’ when we’re doing something outside the Word of God as a Christian professional.
Globally, the Christian professional is required to work with people of other faiths, beliefs, and orientations – how do we again ensure we don’t let our personal choice to devote our lives to Christ produce an unconsciously biased mind and attitude towards our professional colleagues in the workplace who don’t share the same faith, or orientation as us? The answer to working with other professionals is in 1 Corinthians 13:4, i.e. love is patient, kind, not envious, boastful or proud; i.e. the Christian professional is mandated to be tolerant of and kind towards all work colleagues – despite any differences; the Christian professional is mandated to not be envious of peer colleagues and to compete against no one other than ‘self’; and the Christian professional is required to be humble – whatever one’s title, position or qualifications – always remembering again that it is only the Lord who gives one the power to attain these things.
Alas, the higher up the professional ladder one goes, the higher the likelihood you will be tested frequently and asked to compromise on your Christian faith and values. What is your true stance on bearing false witness against a colleague, or even not promoting someone to a role they deserve because they are ‘different’ to you in some way? Is your answer ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘it depends’? I used to work with colleagues who would sometimes answer my phone and say ‘she’s not in at the moment’ to Salesmen until I insisted they had to say ‘please send her an email and she’ll get back with you if she needs your products’ – again, if you expect your peer professionals to lie for you then they will lie to you.
Anyone remember the ‘distinguished’ Daniel, and the spirit of excellence he demonstrated? Now whilst Daniel wasn’t seeking to be promoted, because he distinguished himself and strove to use his talents positively, he was ultimately singled out for promotion and recognized by the king for his character – Daniel 6:3. Have you adopted a spirit of diligence and excellence in your profession? If not, it’s not too late to start and, in the right workplace – working with the right people – your professionalism and integrity will soon be recognized.