Millennials beginning their careers encounter a wide variety of cultures, perspectives and identities every day. Christian millennials, in particular, are faced with the added challenge of balancing religious convictions and respect for the rights and dignities of their superiors and co-workers. For alumnus Braden VanDyk, this was an ever-present reality during his co-op terms with Hamilton-based manufacturing company Felton Brushes, where he is still employed.
“Being in a small organization, there were more conversations (around faith) than I expected. Especially now, I’ve started encountering that more with coworkers,” he says. “One of the things that really surprised me was the level of respect in the workplace with regard to religions. That has grown even more as individuals with more diverse backgrounds have joined our team, encouraging more conversations around religion and faith.”
Despite the many positive benefits of openness and dialogue, increased tolerance can cause Christians to push aside their own convictions. Instead of a principled pluralism, which emphasizes making room for the dignities and freedoms of multiple religious and ethnic identities, tolerance can usher in moral relativism that holds all viewpoints as equally true, even when they clearly contradict one another.
“Talking about my faith to someone of a different faith…I would say that we can talk to each other with respect for each other’s religion and acknowledge each other’s differences while maintaining that commitment to our own faith. But it’s definitely a tough situation to navigate.”
VanDyk emphasizes that the key to practising both conviction and compassion is overcoming the fear of sharing one’s faith, an issue that he believes is all too prevalent for millennial Christians.
“We can talk to each other with respect for each other’s religion and acknowledge each other’s differences while maintaining that commitment to our own faith.”
“They’re afraid of speaking up and being judged, but if you’re respectful to others, they will feel that. It’s showing love without giving the feeling of judgment,” he says.
The key to showing Christ’s face in the workplace, then, does not lie in the right phrases or answers, but in the timeless commandment of doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with our God.