He had just graduated from college and started his first job with a small engineering company. Living hundreds of miles away from friends and family and feeling the strain of working with a new group of people in a challenging field, Todd’s gut told him he already had enough on his plate.
But something else was on his heart. Jesus had become the center of his life, and Todd wanted to be a witness for Christ in his workplace. He had seen other believers who pressed so hard to proselytize that they actually drove people away from God through their obnoxious behavior. So while that approach was not an option, Todd also didn’t want to give in to the urge to fit in and keep his faith to himself. He prayed for guidance.
During a lunch break, the head of engineering passed by and saw Todd reading his Bible. As someone who liked to joke around and razz people, his boss couldn’t pass up an opportunity.
“Hey, you design circuits with that?”
“No,” Todd shot back, “but you can find the best designs in the whole world in here!”
With that opening, Todd’s boss told him that although he wasn’t against religion, he didn’t have much use for it, either. While he didn’t try to change his boss’ opinion, Todd didn’t back down from telling him how important Jesus was in his life. After his manager had walked away, Todd placed a blank card on the front of his Bible and wrote, “Master Design Book.” Later, you could see his boss chuckling as he passed Todd’s desk.
There were four other engineers in Todd’s work area. Every Monday, the two younger guys would talk about going to the bars or who they slept with that weekend. As hard as he tried to figure out how to talk to these guys, the only thing he seemed to have in common with them was work, and as they were responsible for different projects, common opportunities were hard to find.
On the other hand, the older engineer who sat across the aisle from Todd’s desk had a more serious side, and perhaps a bit of sadness about him, too. One day he asked Todd about God. The conversation was interrupted at a point when the senior engineer had become quiet and thoughtful. That was the end of it, and Todd later regretted not probing a bit further. He wasn’t yet comfortable encouraging other people to ask themselves questions about life. He just told his own story.
Todd often ate lunch in the employee break room. He used it as an opportunity to meet people. One day, Todd noticed one of the workers from the manufacturing area eating by himself, so sitting across from him, Todd struck up a conversation.
Glenn was working at the plant during the summer and would be going back to Bible college in the fall. Todd was glad to have another believer to talk to, but once Glenn realized Todd was Catholic, he began to treat Todd differently. Glenn seemed to look for opportunities to “one-up” Todd, setting traps for him by asking questions about topics for which Glenn had predetermined answers. The first time it happened caught Todd off guard, for he thought he had found a brother in Christ, rather than an opponent. Although tempted to debate, Todd saw that it would only serve to create conflict. Rather, he sought to focus on what they had in common instead of their differences.
A few months later, Todd was working on a circuit board design in the drafting department. The drafting staff, consisting of three men and one woman, enjoyed coarse talk and raunchy jokes. While Todd never commented on the conversation, he didn’t find much humor in it, either. The group picked up on his indifference and one day decided to go on the offensive. Openly dishing out barbs about his “purity” and how stupid he was for believing in God, the group enjoyed humiliating Todd. While Todd made a point never to preach to anyone or judge their actions, it didn’t keep others from taking shots at him. Although he tried to ignore the insults, they still stung, and he was quiet for the rest of the afternoon and felt moody that evening. But then he realized God had honored him with a chance to experience humiliation on His account, and the next day he was back to his old self. The drafters didn’t bother him again after that, and a few days later he returned to his usual work area.
Todd gave his very best effort to his work. He took Colossians 3:17 seriously: “And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (NABRE)
Work was more than just a job and a paycheck—it was how he lived for Jesus.
Working for the Master Designer is one of a series on spiritual heroism—stories about real, ordinary people who live life in an extraordinary way as they overcome obstacles to follow Christ.