How to navigate an election season at work

Perhaps you haven’t noticed, but we are in a divisive election season, perhaps one of the strangest and nastiest in recent memory. Politics is dividing people in churches, families and even in workplaces. But it doesn’t have to. As God’s people, we should model for the world what it looks like to love and get along with those who think differently than we do, to be both courageous and open-handed, convictional and humble at the same time in neighborly love.

So here are three warnings for employees as we head down the home stretch of this election.

1. Don’t lose your job

You are passionate about your political opinions and want to speak on behalf of the issues important to you. I get it. I think it’s important for Christians to speak up and speak out in times like this, to bring the truth of the gospel to bear on the world around us. And yet we need to be wise in the ways that we speak out. Peter tells us in 1 Peter 3:15 urges us to “Have an answer for every person for the hope that lies within us, but do it with gentleness and kindness.” It matters not just what we say, but how we say it and especially so on social media platforms.

There are a lot of ways to easily get in trouble on social media and even jeopardize your job by posting something in a fit of adrenalin and rage. It’s important to understand that your personal social media profile represents your company in some way. It’s important to understand your organization’s social media policy. Even if it is fairly permissive, remember that if you post something intentionally provocative or insensitive, you put your company in a difficult position. This doesn’t mean we should be silenced or not speak up, but we need to be wise about how we do it. Courage doesn’t mean being obnoxious or embarrassing our coworkers.

2. Don’t lose your witness

It’s inevitable that politics will come up at work among your colleagues. And it’s likely that your organization or company will have various political perspectives around the office (or around the Zoom call). I think it’s good to engage in discussions, to chat about what’s going on in the world, but it’s important to represent Christ well and prioritize your important working relationship more than your political opinion. Ask yourself, is winning this short-term argument over an arcane detail in this presidential election worth sacrificing my working relationship and an opportunity to show love to my coworker? Am I promoting unity or am I promoting division?

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t participate in lively political conversations in the office or shouldn’t speak up for what we believe, but we should be careful and choose our words well. We should also choose the hills we are willing to die on and the things we will let go for the sake of a friendship and the sake of our Christian witness. And we should be open-handed with our opinions. God’s Word is infallible, but our opinions are not. What we think is funny or might “own” the other political side and get a cheap laugh might end up offending someone who shares the same office space. Loving your neighbor at work might mean holding back some snark or even biting our tongues when we want to combat what we might think is crazy.

3. Don’t lose your perspective

Politics matter — policy affects real human beings with real lives — but it is not ultimate. And if we give off the impression to those around us that this is all we think about, that it consumes our lives, we might be unintentionally evangelizing folks toward a party and not a person, Christ. The next election, this election, matters, but regardless of how it turns out, God’s kingdom will endure. Christ is reigning and is not shaken by what shakes us in 2020. So do we live and work in fear or do we live and work with the confidence that God is gathering history to himself?

God has put you in your workplace to glorify him with your gifts and talents, to represent Christ to those around you, and to provide for your family and promote the common good. Don’t jeopardize that by letting politics get in the way of your performance and pettiness get in the way of your purpose. Instead, you have an opportunity to demonstrate what love looks like every day, by caring, praying for, and working alongside people who think, live, and perhaps vote differently.

Topics: Current Events, Discernment, Issues Facing Workers, Shalom

About the Author

Daniel Darling is Senior VP at NRB. He is the author of several books, including The Dignity Revolution, The Characters of Christmas, and his latest, A Way With Words: Using Our Online Communication for Good.