Christian Leadership in the Secular Workplace

What to Know


At church you’re in the company of people like you who share your same beliefs. When you walk into the office on Monday, though, being a Christian isn’t always celebrated. You might feel labeled or misunderstood. Listen as Tony Bridwell names a common perception about Christians in the workplace and suggest ways leaders can correct misunderstanding.  

Tony is Partner and Practice Leader for Partners In Leadership, an accountability training and culture changing company, with nearly three decades of executive leadership experience. He is the author of The Difference Maker: A Simple Fable About making a Difference in the Life of Others and The Kingmaker: A Leadership Story of Integrity and Purpose.  



Tony says for a Christian business leader to live out his or her faith on a daily basis in the workplace, you need to know a few things going into it:

  1. Lead with love.
  2. You have baggage.
  3. Be deliberate to change the story.
  4. Set your priorities.
  5. Have fixed principles.

1 John 3:18 (ESV)

18Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


1 John 4:7 (ESV)

God Is Love

7Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Tony said that we’ve been called to love. Scripture certainly supports that! How are you applying the directive from 1 John to lead in love where you work? What does that look like?
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Leading with love is tough. There are people in every circle who seem unlovable. Who comes to your mind as someone who’s unlovable and why? What can you do this week to demonstrate love to him or her?
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Even on our best days we fall short in loving people well. In what ways do you struggle to make love your #1 tool in leading?
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Leading with love is not something you can do on your own. What makes it possible is the power of the Holy Spirit alive in us. Describe a time when God’s Holy Spirit empowered you to love someone in a life-giving way.
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Tony said it’s important to realize that as a Christian leader, you have baggage. When people know you’re a Christian, they have a certain perceptions (or misperceptions) about you, and they typically think you are judgmental. 

Why do you think people often jump to “judgment” when they encounter a Christian? Do you think they have any grounds for doing so? Why or why not?
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Have you ever known that to be true? Share a time when you felt mislabeled “judgmental” as a Christian.
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When has that label been true? What are some areas of your life where non-believers might be accurate in thinking you're judging them?
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Tony said research suggests that when people have a certain belief about something, they are looking to validate that belief, whether it’s true or not. Because of this, he said the Christian response to others’ beliefs about us is to deliberately change the story. He shared an example of a co-worker who was always late. Instead of jumping on the “judgmental bandwagon,” a Christian leader could instead offer grace and a new start. This kind of response comes from interpreting the situation and leading from a place of love.  

Brainstorm some other examples of scenarios like this one you’ve actually encountered in your work place. What has been the impact from this kind of response?
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What are some other possible ways to respond that may not be as helpful?
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Tony said that Christian leaders also need to set their priorities, which is easier said than done. He said Christians often say God is their priority, but in reality, their actions show their devotion is to their work or some other area of their lives. 

How would you define your priorities fairly quickly? Would you say your life actually exhibits that order? Why or why not?
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What are some changes you might need to make in order to make your priorities align with your values?
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How are your actions in the workplace a powerful witness for people who want to otherwise validate their false beliefs about you as a Christian? What do people see in you?
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Tony’s final suggestion is to have a set of fixed principles, which is the opposite of situational integrity. It’s important for people to know where you stand and why you stand there. 

Do you currently have any fixed principles? If so, what are they?
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How would you describe situational integrity?
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Tony said that fixed principles are non-negotiable, established like a north star. Why do you think it’s important that these principles are unmoving?
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Non-Christians might look at Christians and say that having fixed principles affirms that they are judgmental. How would you respond to someone who argued that?
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What are some fixed principles that are seeped in love and God’s grace, which people would have a hard time arguing against? How might this kind of fixed principle help and bless your company and its people?
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People look to leaders for strength, guidance, and conviction. When you establish principles and priorities by which you live and work and stand firm, you provide a sense of stability for your company. Likewise, when you lead in love, you can’t help but challenge the misunderstandings associated with our faith. Over time, people will begin to see a difference in the way you lead and hopefully have reason to believe in the same God of love who inspires your leadership.