What pieces of advice would you give to a christian working in a corrupt environment especially in the public sector?

Hi Max, I am glad to have you engaging with this week and to know that you have interest in politics.

What pieces of advice would you give to a christian working in a corrupt environment especially in the public sector? I will be glad to hear them.

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My pleasure Charles. Thanks for tuning in.

My first piece of advice relates to perspective. All working environments (from politics, to the civil service to the private sector), are corrupted, because they are made up of people, and it is from the human heart that all corruption flows. As Solzenitsyn famously wrote, (paraphrasing) the line that divides good and evil cuts through the heart of every man and woman. Accordingly, the first thing to remember is that all people in all areas of work in all sectors of the economy, are sinners (including you and me). This is a reality that I found often ignored during my years in law and in professional politics. Understanding our brokenness and the brokenness of those around us (Matthew 7:5) will help give us perspective in dealing with many of the moral challenges we face at work. I found it very helpful to start by remembering my own failings and to acknowledge my disqualification from passing moral judgments on those around me (John 8:7).

That being said, as followers of Christ, we are commanded to live out the moral and ethical blueprint that the Lord set down for us (Philippians 2, Galatians 5:22 and Matthew 5-7 amongst countless other references), as best we can. This will necessarily require a balance. We will need - on occasion - to put up with moral imperfections in our governments, our companies and our colleagues, but the reality of a broken world does not give us permission to abdicate our duty to stand up for biblical truth. There does exist a moral line that we should refuse to cross, no matter the cost.

I remember my early years as a political adviser. There were a couple of policies that my party held that I didn’t agree with. I considered resigning but after some prayer and thought, I realised that these issues were not sufficiently significant. I also realised that all political parties - in some sense and to some extent and on some issues - violate the Biblical vision for society and government. Accordingly, taking a morally literalistic approach would mean that I would not be able to work on any side of politics (nor would any Christian for that matter), and that is clearly not a biblical position. We are called to submit to civil authority (Romans 13) and to God’s authority (Romans 1:5). I decided to remain in my job and as time passed the Lord blessed with me professional advancement through which I was able to influence much more of the policy agenda, including effecting change on aspects of the policies on which I had previously taken issue.

Of course, there is also the personal angle. The more we live out the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5), the more Godly the impact we can have on those around us (John 13:35). Even amidst the most hopeless corruption, all there is are people who need Jesus. Our job is to be walking talking examples of Christ’s love, compassion, forgiveness and integrity.

The world is messy and we are messed up. Accordingly, moral obedience and Christlikeness in the workplace can not be simplified to rules that we are called to follow. This was never the Lord’s intention. Rather than trying to develop a set of rules for Christian behaviour in the workplace, the Biblical model of discipleship calls us to become Christlike. That is to say, rather than derive rules to follow, we are called to become - ontologically - the kind of people for whom Christlike behaviour is the natural outworking. Then, when we are faced with the inevitability of moral ambiguity in our work, we will naturally be better equipped to make thoughtful, prayerful and Godly decisions, and the way we live will we a perpetual pointer to the countercultural beauty of the person of Jesus Christ.

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