Nov 22, 2012

Book Review: Fruit at Work

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Gal. 5:22-23)

What is it about Geoff?

Years ago when I first started working a new job, I couldn’t help noticing that one of my co-workers had a certain popularity. This man was rarely alone during breaks and often engaged in what seemed to be intimate discussions with various people around his desk. It wasn’t until I got to know Geoff a little better that I understood. Here is a person who is a joy to be around—someone who always has a kind word, who listens well, has a contagious smile, and genuinely cares for others. Spending time with Geoff makes me want to be a better person. When I discovered that my new friend was a Christian, it opened up new ways for me to let my faith inform my work too. The way Geoff carries out his work and interacts with co-workers is marked by the fruit of the Spirit.  

What does it mean to be a Christian in the workplace? This is the question Chris Evans starts with in his book Fruit at Work: Mixing Christian Virtues with Business. When I hear this question, my friend Geoff comes to mind. This would not surprise Chris Evans, who asserts that not only does our faith have the potential to help us grow leadership and relational skills that most companies desire, but exercising faith in the workplace is critical to your growth as a follower of Jesus Christ.

Evans likens the fruit of the Spirit to a “Christian utility belt”—giving us powerful tools to solve problems at work. However, he cautions, the point of this book is not to indicate we can develop these virtues through the force of our own will.

Fruit is something a tree naturally produces. It doesn’t have to work to produce fruit. In fact, even if a tree tried hard not to, it would still produce fruit. In the same way, fruit should be a natural product of your walk with Christ. Given that Paul’s passage about fruit occurs in the context of pleading with the Galatians not to be slaves to the law, it would be a contradiction for him to load “bearing fruit” on your shoulders as one more chore you’ve taken on as a Christian… If you make Christ the center of your life, fruit happens.

The closer we are to God, then, the more likely we are to bear the fruit of the Spirit and naturally carry it into our workplaces with us. With this in mind, Evans takes us through a thorough study of the nine facets of the fruit of the Spirit.

Through a close look at the original Greek words used for each facet of the fruit, Evans shows us how these virtues are all interconnected, how they relate specifically to trust in the workplace, and how we can practically apply some of the concepts discussed. For example, in the discussion on love Evans says:

…all of the other fruit have some connection to the fruit of love. Joy and peace are derived from security in God’s love for us. Gentleness and goodness are other natural expressions of love. Faithfulness and self-control can also be found in a love that puts others first. The better you get at expressing love, the more naturally all of these other fruit will also appear.

He goes on to advise that one of the easiest ways to express love in the workplace is to listen to others—something my friend Geoff understands very well.

Evans does a good job of exploring what each quality of the fruit of the Spirit looks like. He shares touching stories from his own experiences to illustrate how growing in his relationship with God through the years has spilled over into a work life abundantly filled with the fruit of the Spirit.

How about you? Have you ever been consciously aware of the fruit of the Spirit working in you to impact the work you do? 

Image by Patricia Hunter. Used with permission. Sourced via Flickr. Post by Laura Boggess.

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