https://environmentagency.blog.gov.uk/2018/05/03/what-does-it-take-to-feel-comfortable-talking-about-faith-and-belief-at-work/

What does it take to feel comfortable talking about faith and belief at work?

Charlie standing on a beach
With support from my managers, our Women's Network and improvements in our working culture, I'm bringing 'my whole self to work'

I’ve been working at the Environment Agency for 15 years in Area, Operations and Head Office roles. I currently work as a Research Officer in Research, Analysis and Evaluation. Somewhere along my journey, I started to lose confidence in myself. I couldn’t be me. I didn’t quite fit.

However, with encouragement and support of line managers, the Women’s Network and improvements in our working culture, I’m experiencing the benefits of bringing “my whole self to work”.

I’ve never lacked self-motivation, but given the encouragement to be myself, I’ve opened up and freely share ideas. I have more courage to speak up. Something that brought it all home was Clare Moriarty’s blog.

Clare talked about championing faith and belief in the civil service and she posed a really good question ‘what does it take to feel comfortable talking about faith and belief at work’? This resonates with me as I’m aware how uncomfortable I have been in opening up about my Christian faith, not only to work colleagues but even with friends and family.

I remember a few summers ago I was with a group of parents at a ‘party in the park’ and there was a stand set up by one of the local churches. As we were passing a few people I was with said “Oh crikey, there’s the God squad!”. It made me feel so sad. Sad that they judged so quickly and assumed that Christians have a sort of persona one should avoid! I do wonder where this feeling, fear or belief that Christians are ‘weird’ comes from. A part of me wanted to speak up, but I just couldn’t find the words at the time - I didn’t know where to start.

So yes, I’ve held back sharing my beliefs, in case of being judged, misunderstood or to avoid assumptions being made about me. But something changed, and the more I read, opened up, received encouragement and support from my husband (who is agnostic), family, close friends, members of my local church and then gently speaking about it with trusted colleagues, I’m more comfortable, relaxed and content with how I feel. I believe in God and life makes sense to me this way. My faith is a huge part of who I am, my values and my way of being in the world. I don’t judge those who have a different belief or understanding as I care and respect other people’s world views.

But to be able to be open about matters of the heart, especially at work, there needs to be trust, respect and compassion. When we do this naturally, we bring out the best in each other. I’m encouraged that our organisation is creating an environment where people feel they can be themselves and our differences are celebrated. I believe the more we can all do this, the easier it will be for us to learn from each other, to understand one another and work better together.

 

 

Charlie Hutton is a research officer in research, analysis and evaluation for the Environment Agency.

5 comments

  1. Comment by Bev Waller posted on

    Good blog Charlie. As a line manager and colleague, I have always tried to get to know people and be open about myself. It makes it so much easier to engage if you understand what makes each other tick. Not only that, life is simply more interesting for knowing such a diverse bunch of people.

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  2. Comment by Liz Cairns posted on

    Thank you for sharing this Charlie you have summed up so much of how I feel as well about sharing my faith and beliefs at work. I also some of my inhibitions come from my own pre-conceived ideas of what people will say or think - rather than actually having had any bad experiences with any of my colleagues. I am encouraged by your post - thank you.

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  3. Comment by Sandra posted on

    This is a very up-lifting story and one we can all learn from.
    So often Christians are portrayed in a negative light in the media which leads to people to use comments such as 'God Squad'.
    It would be good if, very gently, we could all do our bit to give Christians a better reputation.
    Thanks Charlie.

    Reply
  4. Comment by Suzannah Atkey posted on

    I enjoyed your blog Charlie, thanks very much for sharing this. It's things like this that encourage us to walk in the light of God and share his love freely and fearlessly. To find our voices and sing out the prayers in our heart! One of the wonderful things about Christianity is, Christians or not, in the eyes of God we are all special, all equal, and all loved more by him than we will ever understand. Each and every one of us, and every part of us, whatever our beliefs! The Christian faith welcomes everyone and just wants us all to love and be kind to each other. It wants us to spread happiness, peace, forgiveness, patience, kindness, gentleness and faith and enjoy an abundance of those gifts in our own lives. This sounds to me like a lovely thing for us all to have in our home, work and play.

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  5. Comment by Chris H posted on

    An interesting piece Charlie, thank you. It does bring home the point, in what many (including famously David Cameron) consider a "Christian country", if moderate Christians feel society may unfairly judge or misunderstand, just how much more difficult life is for Muslims, atheists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Laveyan Satanists and so on.

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