A toxic or hostile workplace is any workplace which becomes antagonistic or is offensive in nature. In today's world, with the increasing negative attitude towards Christians many believers can find themselves working in a hostile or toxic workplace.
Here are just some of the reasons a workplace can become a toxic environment for Christians.
- Trying to witness to coworkers who don't want to be witnessed to can quickly create a toxic workplace.
- Being the only light in a dark workplace can create a toxic workplace.
- Standing up for what you believe in can create a toxic workplace.
- Foul language and crude stories of coworkers which are offensive to the ears
- Constant taunting about religious/social issues
Walking away from a toxic workplace is not always easy. There are only so many "Christian" workplaces out there and they can't hire everybody. If leaving a job is not the answer then what is left is learning to cope while still working within a hostile environment which is a three fold process of why, how and when.
Stop reacting to the workplace and start relying on God. Daniel a devout follower of God, ended up being ripped from his homeland and forced into slavery. While in slavery in Babylon he was thrown in a lion's den for not giving into King Nebuchadnezzar's laws and decrees.
Daniel didn't react to the hostile environment around him by lashing out or getting down, Instead he stayed firm in his faith to God. Every Christian who works in a hostile environment needs to focus on God and God alone and seek to learn why God has put you there in the first place. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 16:13, "Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong." which leads to the second part of the process, drop the I.
Drop the word I and ask God why. Moses was a man who said to himself, "I need to save my people." In the end he had to run away from a toxic workplace and seek safety in another land doing an entirely different job. While for some it may be better to leave a toxic workplace, but it doesn't have to be the only answer to the problem.
Forty years later God came to call Moses back. He started out by saying I can't, I can't. There is no way he wanted to go back to the toxic workplace he had left behind.
In the end Moses heard God and listened. He dropped the I and listened to God who gave Him the guidance to free his fellow countrymen from slavery. In a toxic workplace it is not only is it important to ask God why, it is even more important ask Him how He would go about getting the job done. James 1:5 says,"But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him."
Roll with the changes. Paul was a future leader in the Jerusalem church. He was sure he knew what the future held for him, a lofty position with prestige and power. Then one day on a road he met Jesus and his life changed forever. He went from being a persecutor of Jesus followers to being one of the persecuted as a follower of Jesus.
Paul, in his ministry, had the unique perspective of seeing things from both sides. He knew what it was like to want to persecute the followers of Jesus. Then when the scales fell off he got a good view of the world through God's eyes. He now knew why he was here and how he had to live the rest of his life.
When God has opened your eyes as to why you're working where you are, and He will. Then He'll lead you by showing you how to let your faith shine through your actions more then words. In the end God's prodding will help you roll with the changes and grow in your faith. James 1:2:4 ESV reminds all Christians no matter the situation to, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."
Working in a toxic workplace is not going to be easy but Jesus never promised us an easy life. In fact in John 15:19 Jesus issued this warning to all believers about how they would be perceived in the world, of which the workplace is an integral part. He says, "If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you."
As Andre Freed states in an article on Personal Growth for Christians.com, "Nobody wants to work in a hostile environment, but when we look at it from a Godly perspective, it becomes not only understandable, but a doable environment of growth."