published Saturday, April 21st, 2012

Cooper: How to practice your faith at work

There's no need to plant a cross in front of your business or hand out tracts to your employees to demonstrate the fruits of Christianity in your workplace, according to businessman John Beckett.

"There is wisdom in allowing in the natural course of what we believe to speak for ourselves in our contacts and in our communication," said the Ohio man, who will be the speaker for the 34th Chattanooga Area Leadership Prayer Breakfast on May 1. "It doesn't have to be a frontal attack."

(The 7 a.m. breakfast is at the Chattanooga Convention Center. For information, call 698-0100.)

Beckett, chairman of the R.W. Beckett Corp., a manufacturing company in North Ridgeville, Ohio, is the author of the books "Loving Monday: Succeeding in Business Without Selling Your Soul" and "Mastering Monday: A Practical Guide To Integrating Faith and Work."

He said he realized some years ago in his faith journey that he needed to find "alignment to what I was learning as a believer and in issues that would come up day by day and even hour by hour in the workplace."

The result, Beckett said, was a conscious effort to conduct himself in a way that was attractive to other people.

"The proof was there in the pudding, which is frankly the way it should be," Beckett said. "[People would be] influenced

more by what I do than by what I say, [of] the message of the Gospel impact on my life."

Beckett said he also began to implement policies in his business that relied on biblical truths. For instance, long before the national Family and Medical Leave Act, his business permitted mothers to stay home with their newborn children for up to three years before coming back.

"There's a special bond [formed] in those first three years," he said. "Over time, some 30 to 40 parents have elected that option. It's neat to see the fruit of that. We read [in the Bible] of the care we should have for the most dependent. This is an extension of that line of thinking."

Although Beckett said the company's approaches to integrate faith and work have been "well accepted," there was some initial skepticism and an uncertainty by people of how they would be impacted.

However, he said the consistency of the approach and the care and compassion shown are attractive to people regardless of belief. It's even become the seed bed for "some, not a few, in embracing Christianity. They've seen from a practical standpoint that it really can make a difference in a person's life."

Beckett said while a commonly held belief is that to be successful in the dog-eat-dog business world you have to claw and scratch your way to the top. You can't do that, he said the belief goes, and have a Christian approach.

"That's a false notion," he said. "I'm sure many people have fallen in that trap. For those people, there is good news. The concepts you see in the life of Christians really [equate with] good business."

The book of Proverbs, for instance, is filled with good business practices, Beckett said.

"If you bring that mentality into business," he said, "I think, frankly, it translates into a person's character, who they are. They resonate good values. And that's going to percolate to the top."

Anyone can integrate their faith and work, Beckett said, but they initially have to be serious about their faith. If their faith is an inch deep and a mile wide, he said, they're not going to have the equipment they need.

Even then, he said, there is the legitimate concern of employees or customers pushing back.

But, Beckett said, "you don't have to wear [your Christian faith] on your shirtsleeves. You can walk in a humble and becoming way.

"Our lives are to be unified," he said, referring to living on Monday as you lived on Sunday and vice versa, "not to be bifurcated into different days of the week or aspects of what we do. The Lord is calling us to be one person, regardless of the situation we're in."

about Clint Cooper...

Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...

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