Ask a Pastor Ep. 53 - Christianity and Business, Satanists, Financial Struggles
Welcome to Ask a Pastor, a podcast from Orchard Hill Church! Have you ever had a question about the Bible, Faith, or Christianity as a whole? Submit your question and one of our pastors will answer on the program. New episodes every Wednesday.
This episode our Senior Pastor, Dr. Kurt Bjorklund, talks with Co-Director of Women's Ministry, JoAnn Adams, about Christianity and business, satanists, and dealing with financial struggles.
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Kurt Bjorklund: Hey, welcome. Today on Ask a Pastor, I'm joined by JoAnn Adams. JoAnn is one of our co-directors of Women's Ministry on our Wexford campus. Welcome JoAnn. JoAnn brings a wealth of experience in industry to us. She worked in HR for decades, I believe.
JoAnn Adams: Oh, [inaudible 00:00:24]
Kurt Bjorklund: Or, at least a years. We'll just say years. This is some content that we put out every week. We're so glad just to be able to have these conversations together, and so many of you have sent questions. Please continue to do that to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you're watching or listening on social media, a podcast, any of those means, if you would take the time to like it, to share it, to subscribe to it, that helps other people find the content as well. Always, you can find the backlog of these Ask a Pastor episodes in the church app that's tied to Orchard Hill Church as well.
Kurt Bjorklund: JoAnn, the first question is this, and we thought this would be especially good for you having a background in human resources. It says, "I'm a small business owner and I'd like my employees to all be Christians. I try to encourage everyone to attend church and I'm not shy about sharing Bible verses in conversations with coworkers. Recently a family member of a coworker brought up that what I'm doing is against the law. What law? I don't think I'm doing anything wrong, and certainly not in God's eyes. Why would someone bring this up to me?"
JoAnn Adams: They're not doing anything that is against the law.
Kurt Bjorklund: Okay.
JoAnn Adams: However, it depends on what context they are having these discussions. For example, if someone is continuously telling someone about the scripture, sharing the gospel with them, and not allowing them to get their work done, I don't know that that's appropriate. If the person doesn't want to hear it, if someone says like, "Hey, I really don't want to hear what you have to say," then you need to acknowledge that they don't want to hear it, because then you are liable to someone making a claim of harassment, working in a hostile work environment. That is the challenge there with someone who is, if there is a continuous pattern of, and someone doesn't want you to have those discussions with them.
Kurt Bjorklund: Okay.
JoAnn Adams: Now, if it's a Christian organization and you hire Christians and ...
Kurt Bjorklund: That's a different story.
JoAnn Adams: That's a different story.
Kurt Bjorklund: So, assuming it's not explicitly Christian, it's a company that just makes some kind of product, sells it, how would you encourage somebody than to be active in talking about their faith, pointing people to Jesus without opening themselves up for, or in reality, being somebody who's harassing people?
JoAnn Adams: I think that creating relationships with people and just sort of reading the person. For example, when I worked in corporate America, there would be times when I'd just start to have conversations with people, and they would say something to me like, "Oh, I attend church," and then we could have those conversations. Or, there were times when people were in crises and I would simply say to them, in a private meeting, "Do you mind if I pray for you?" Then, that's okay. Because, the thing is, you don't want to create an environment where people are uncomfortable.
Kurt Bjorklund: Yeah, yeah.
JoAnn Adams: The challenge is, sometimes people won't tell you they're uncomfortable.
Kurt Bjorklund: That's right, until the lawsuit.
JoAnn Adams: Exactly, until there's a claim that's made about it.
Kurt Bjorklund: Right.
JoAnn Adams: "You know, I'm being discriminated against, they're creating this hostile environment."That's the challenge.
Kurt Bjorklund: Yeah. Well, and it's probably a little different too as an owner of a business, because now it isn't just peer-to-peer, but you actually have power over somebody's compensation and direction in the company, and so, no one wants to not listen to their boss.
JoAnn Adams: Correct.
Kurt Bjorklund: That adds probably a layer of complexity over somebody who says, "Hey, I work and I just offered to pray with my coworker or say something." One of the things that I would like to say about this, is that it's good to be zealous to want to share your faith, but we never need to take on the role of the Holy Spirit. What I mean by that is, sometimes a zeal to say, "I want to talk about my faith," becomes, "and I need to convince everybody that what I'm saying is true." That's the role of the Holy Spirit.
Kurt Bjorklund: Your role is to point to Jesus in some way. That doesn't mean that you have to explain everything and convince everybody. It just means you point to Jesus. A really easy way is when somebody says, "Hey, how was your weekend?" You start to recount your weekend, part of what you can do is if you did just say, "Well, you know, we did this on Friday and then this, and then we went to church. It was really great." That's just talking about your weekend.
Kurt Bjorklund: You're not trying to convince them of anything, but what you're doing is you're planting a seed that says, "Oh they go to church. That's different. Huh, I wonder about their life." Then, live a life that's so clearly compassionate and full of hope that people say there's something different about you, and sooner or later they may even ask. Now you have a wide open door, rather than than saying, "I have to convince everybody at every turn." I think it's Colossians 4:2 that says, "Pray for an open door for the conversation."
Kurt Bjorklund: Another opportunity or another way to look at that is to say, if it's God's role, the Holy Spirit's role, I don't need to create an open door. I don't need to punch a door open. I can pray for an open door, and then when the conversation comes, like you said, when I'm in a conversation, somebody's in a crisis and I say, can I pray for you or would you mind if I give you some advice that I've learned from the Bible about how to handle this, or something like that, that's now an open door. Instead of saying I'm bringing the message to you, you're letting it evolve more naturally.
JoAnn Adams: I think that is so true, but one thing that you said reminded me about, there is actually a law. That is, if this person is actually a business owner, there is title seven of the 1964 Civil Rights Act that you really prohibits discrimination based upon race, age, and a couple of other categories. If someone in the organization views that a Christian is getting preferential treatment over someone else, then again.
Kurt Bjorklund: Right.
JoAnn Adams: You just have to, especially as a leader in an organization, you have to be very careful.
Kurt Bjorklund: Well, and you probably need to make sure you're documenting-
JoAnn Adams: Yes.
Kurt Bjorklund: Things in terms of employee reviews, so that if you promote somebody that you have some rationale for it versus, or if somebody gets a pay raise and somebody else doesn't-
JoAnn Adams: Right, what's the criteria.
Kurt Bjorklund: That you had some rationale for it, rather than simply, "Hey, I just did this," and then somebody can say, "Well you did it, but clearly you discriminated against me because of my faith."
JoAnn Adams: Right, exactly.
Kurt Bjorklund: I think that's probably wise, and that's just good business practice in general-
JoAnn Adams: Exactly, in general.
Kurt Bjorklund: To say I have some basis for this in why we made these decisions the way we did. Here's a question. "Satanists seem to be gaining legal standing around the nation." This is the person's question. "I know our nation isn't supposed to endorse any religion over any other, but what is a Christian supposed to do when a religion that diametrically opposes God seems to be gaining ground today?" JoAnn, how, how would you respond to that?
JoAnn Adams: I don't know, because I'm not sure that I completely understand. You know, if I look at what's going on in the world today, certainly, we live in a diverse population here in the US and there are people with different faiths. You can't separate this question from the whole area of politics. We live in a country where people elect people based upon their beliefs. We live in a fallen world. Satan is in control. As Christians, we just need to stand on who we are as Christians. But, we have to understand that this is a fallen world.
Kurt Bjorklund: Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah. I may not say Satan's in control. Satan's the prince of this world.
JoAnn Adams: Yes.
Kurt Bjorklund: Meaning, he has a certain sway over it. I would still say ultimately God's in control.
JoAnn Adams: Right.
Kurt Bjorklund: But, I think your big point is right, and that is, to expect our nation to reflect Christian values in a political way may not be a realistic expectation, or even a God-honoring expectation. What I mean by that is, I don't think the Bible prescribes a theocracy as a way for the nation to function. If anything, it would seem to me it would prescribe more of a plurality, of saying a nation in which people of every different kind of ilk can live together. I'm also not sure I'd completely grant that satanism seems to be gaining legal standing around the nation, other than it's gaining in the idea of plurality. In other words, saying any idea is valid.
JoAnn Adams: Right.
Kurt Bjorklund: What I think is probably behind this question, and I'm not sure because I couldn't possibly, presume to be in the mind of the questioner, the idea here. But, what I presume is behind the question is the idea that Christianity seems to be, to some people, the increasingly minority view that loses legal standing, while everything else, no matter how out there, seems to be gaining credibility in our culture. What would you say to a Christian who feels that that's the trajectory of the nation about how they live and proceed in our country?
JoAnn Adams: That's again, I'm not sure. I really need to think about that, because if you are feeling that that's going on, that means that you just have to take a stronger stand as to who you are.
Kurt Bjorklund: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
JoAnn Adams: I mean, it's interesting because when I took a look at what are the top countries where Christianity is, and the United States is the number one, has more Christians than any other country behind, I think it's Mexico and Brazil. I'm not sure what you can do other than stand on your own, "I am a Christian," and then live your life that way.
Kurt Bjorklund: Well and often, again, what's I think behind that is a desire to say we want laws to enforce Christian morality. Again, I'm not sure that that's ... That's a tricky question, because there are times where Christian morality is the right thing. The dignity of people comes from Christian understanding of who God is, the image of God. Things like don't murder, don't steal, the dignity of property, working are all Christian values that we have turned into civil norms and laws that are good for the thriving of humanity.
Kurt Bjorklund: At the same time, there are some laws that perhaps by trying to insist that everyone lives in a Christian way who isn't Christian, you actually create something that is more like the Puritan America, where you start to say, "Is this really helpful to try to force people into living lives that they don't believe they need to live?" I think what has to happen is you have to differentiate between what's truly the common good, in other words, laws that you can say are based on a Christian understanding of scripture that are truly for the common good, versus laws that help individual morality but aren't necessarily common good laws. Maybe a way to think about this is a adultery as a law. There used to be laws that were anti adultery. You can't do this, this is against the law.
JoAnn Adams: Right.
Kurt Bjorklund: I would say as a Christian pastor, I think adultery is sinful. I think it's not right before God. But, I'm not sure that I want to live in a culture that makes it against the law and puts people in prison or fines them if they commit adultery.
JoAnn Adams: Right.
Kurt Bjorklund: In that sense, I don't want a theocracy. I don't want every Christian morality to be dictated on our society. At the same time, I think a value of all people, the sense of not taking lives, not stealing people's property, are Christian ideals that makes sense-
JoAnn Adams: Need to be law.
Kurt Bjorklund: In the whole property. Now, some people would say, "Well, wouldn't it be a better world if no one ever committed adultery because it was against the law?" Well, maybe, but it also forces a certain ethic on a society that says I may not want that ethic. Somewhere in there there's a balance and it's not easy to always say, "Well, which things are in which side of the line?"
JoAnn Adams: Well, and that's it.
Kurt Bjorklund: But, I think that's a good example, because I don't know very many people who would say we should outlaw adultery and force everyone into some kind of a penalty if they don't comply.
JoAnn Adams: Right. The polygamist.
Kurt Bjorklund: Yeah, yeah. Well, yeah. All right, here's another question. "My extended family is struggling financially. I have the money to help them. They know I do, but it seems they have been largely irresponsible in this place to take care of themselves. How should I see this biblically? If I can help them, how can I tell them? If I can't help them or choose not to, how can I tell them I don't intend to help?"
JoAnn Adams: This is interesting because I think there's a difference between helping and enabling. One, if you have a family member who needs help, and you really need to pray about it and ask questions. I think it's really asking the person questions about, what's going on? How'd you find yourself in this situation? Because, I think sometimes if we help people that always need help, they haven't made wise choices, then we really aren't helping them.
JoAnn Adams: One of the scriptures that I love it's in Thessalonians, I think it is. Where it's, if a man doesn't work, he doesn't eat. I say that a lot to people because it's, you must take care of, you have to take care of yourself. If you make bad choices, then there's a consequences to that. I think you have to be discerning. You really have to pray. Sometimes, the answer to people is no. The answer might be no, I'm not going to help you out financially, but let's take a look at what's going on in your situation and maybe I can help you.
Kurt Bjorklund: Yeah, it's a great question, because a lot of times you do have the impulse to say, "I would like to help and I can help, but is it the best thing for you if I do help?"
JoAnn Adams: Right.
Kurt Bjorklund: That's an important last question. Is it the best thing for you if I do help? Because, sometimes the best thing is to let people feel the weight of their own choices, even if they were years and years ago. Because, otherwise you, by enabling, and I love that distinction, enabling and helping, by enabling what you end up doing is you end up having somebody who learns that if I don't take care of my stuff, somebody else will take care of it for me. To give that message, even if you can help, is actually hurting. There's a great book. It's around the issue of missions for the church. It's called When Helping Hurts.
JoAnn Adams: Ah, mm-hmm (affirmative).
Kurt Bjorklund: That title is so good, because so often what the church has done in missions, even in cities and things has been like, "Oh, here we go. We feel good." You know, you walk around a homeless area and you handed out sandwiches and you feel good. "We did good today." Well, have you done good by handing out sandwiches? Maybe, maybe not. But, if you feel good, sometimes you're actually hurting, and to ask that same question with something like this. If I help, am I really helping? One of the ways maybe to think about this as well is to say maybe I can help without giving money.
JoAnn Adams: Right.
Kurt Bjorklund: Maybe I can coach. Maybe I can encourage. Maybe I can make some connections and some resources. Helping doesn't mean that I have to give money.
JoAnn Adams: Right.
Kurt Bjorklund: It might mean that the best thing for me to do is to say I'm going to give you some opportunities and coach you so that you can fix your own problem.
JoAnn Adams: Absolutely.
Kurt Bjorklund: Now I've preserved your dignity. Now I've enabled you to learn how you can manage this. I've given you a resource, but I haven't just solved your need.
JoAnn Adams: Yeah, right.
Kurt Bjorklund: I've found that to be a helpful distinction, so very good. Well, JoAnn, thank you for spending some time here today. Thank you. If you have questions, please feel free to send them to email@example.com.