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August 5, 1996

Cultivating a Public Life

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I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people … in your midst, O Jerusalem. PSALM 116:18-19
Some aspects of our spiritual lives are private, but the greater portion is to be lived out in the presence of other people. A public life does two things: It protects us, and it allows others to witness God’s activity in our lives.
We live life in many layers of personal existence: public, private, blind, and subconscious. Others know our public lives. Often we have blind spots that others see and point out to us. This requires close, courageous friendships. Our private lives are known to us—and possibly no one else. Here are the secrets, often laden with guilt and shame, that hold us hostage. Again, we need trusted friends whom we allow to poke around in the dark closets and turn on the lights. Finally, the subconscious is a mysterious place that bubbles up in our dreams and through longings and urges that are difficult to categorize.
A healthy life, however, is lived primarily in the public arena. This keeps us free from blind spots and secret sins that can entangle us. When we publicly live out our faith—filled as it is with hopes, fears, successes, and failures—others will witness our actions. If they witness a man or woman truly following Christ, they witness something more powerful than words can convey.
Our lives at work are filled with opportunities to walk a different path— graciously and lovingly. Many jobs are filled with deadlines, tensions, and conflicts. How do we navigate these? We have bosses, peers, and subordinates. How do we treat them? What about vendors, partners, and suppliers? If we are witnessing with words alone and no one witnesses Christ in our lives, we are nothing more than an annoying racket. Allowing Christ to live through us is the best way to be salt and light at work.
Is your life at work a flavor enhancer, or is it simply leaving a bad taste in the mouths of your coworkers?

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