My jobs have all been secular. I’ve never been employed, in any capacity, by a religious institution. I’ve worked with fellow church-members twice. At one company the coworker had ongoing issues with management. After working there a few years I was promoted to a floor supervisor position. This made me one of his immediate supervisors. The manager didn’t discuss things with the leads unless they were involved in whatever situation was at hand. So I wasn’t present for most of whatever conversations he was having in the office, and he and I didn’t discuss much of it. At some point he started talking with the pastor and a few of the men at the church. Not long after that I was at a party at church and one of the deacons asked me what I did for the company I worked for. Then he asked me if I knew the employee. Then he started telling me about a conversation that supposedly happened between my manager and the employee. I said, “I can’t talk about business matters.” When I said that, his reply was, “…well you can talk about here,” as though church was some sort of ‘safe-place’ where I was free to discuss my employer’s business.
I was part of the management team at a, not-affiliated-with-the-church … had-absolutely-nothing-to-do-with-church-or-religion, secular business. Sharing what was discussed in the office, in the way these guys at church were implying I should, was a good way to lose my job. Risking that was just not on the table. These discussions were intrusive, and honestly the presumption of it all really pissed me off. As I drove home after that I said out loud, “I need separation of church and work!”
The church doesn’t have agency in outside affairs. Many Christians think it does, and dominionists want it to have absolute agency. They’re wrong. Or maybe the institution has the agency that people give it. I was never one of those people. Work was a separate part of my life from ‘church stuff.’
This coworker/employee/fellow church member and I had never been close. We weren’t friends. At best it was kind of a long-term acquaintance. He was someone I worked with, and for a while, someone I attended church with. I was angry, but I never confronted him or discussed the conversation I had had with the two deacons.
Later on my cell started ringing again, this time with the pastor asking about more things to do with the office. I became resentful, or more resentful of the employee after this, and began to distance myself further from him at work, except in my capacity as his supervisor. Some might say that I was disloyal to my ‘brother in Christ’ by not supporting him in whatever problems he was having with his managers.
Eventually I left that church. There were a number of reasons why, and while this wasn’t the primary one, it was definitely on the list.
When you’re part of Christianity, and perhaps in other religions, there’s a rule of sorts…maybe a commandment, that you’re to put the church and your fellow believers ahead of everything. It may be implied by the ‘greatest commandment’ from Matthew 22:36-40 that we’re to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and that we’re to love our neighbor as ourselves. There were many times, some might say most of the time, when I didn’t do this. I looked back…often. I didn’t put the church and my fellow believers first when it came to many things during my time as a Christian. I’ve never viewed my employment as part of ‘ministry.’ I wasn’t there for that. I wasn’t there to wear people down or catch them at a low point and sell them fire insurance. I wasn’t there for bible study. I was there to do a job and collect a paycheck so that I could pay my bills. You may say that I was never sincere. You wouldn’t be the first.
We judge each other based on the idea of constants. Life is about ebb and flow.