I grew up in a multi-denominational house. My father was raised Baptist and my mother was raised Catholic. I was baptized as an infant in the Catholic Church, but my father had a hard time accepting some of the Catholic teachings and rules, so we attended his Baptist church regularly. We would occasionally visit the Catholic church for baptisms, weddings and funerals, but were otherwise active in the Baptist church.
We lived in a small town and didn’t have our own high school, so we instead had the option of choosing which local school we would like to attend. The majority were either public or vocational, but I opted for the Catholic school, Coyle & Cassidy High, in Taunton. Learning more about the Catholics’ emphasis on the social calling of the Church prompted me to begin thinking about what the Church actually was, and how what we believe in our heads and our hearts impacts the work of our hands.
After graduating from Coyle & Cassidy, I continued on to Gordon College to study theology and philosophy. As I studied the Scriptures, I became increasingly curious as to how I could best communicate the biblical truths I was learning to other believers and to the world around me. Surely, merely instructing others about the Bible and Jesus would be incomplete. I continued to consider this question (though admittedly without progress) through the remainder of college and my first year of seminary.
After completing my first year of graduate work at Gordon-Conwell, my wife, Ashleigh, and I agreed to pause my studies. My father had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma 10 years earlier, a cancer that could be treated but not cured at the time of his diagnosis. Now his cancer was back and his doctors at Dana-Farber recommended he undergo a stem cell transplant.
Ashleigh and I decided to move closer to my parents to be able to help my mom with practical things, like mowing the lawn and taking out the trash, and to be closer to my father. (Thanks be to God his transplant was successful!) But now this meant I needed to get a job. I called a friend and began a career in sales.
Needless to say, the environment of this new career was quite different from the years I spent in the midst of a body of Christian believers all day, every day. And the academic question of how I could share my knowledge suddenly became more practical: How can I be like Jesus in the workplace?
I think this is one of the most challenging questions of our time. The demands of the workplace are intense and real for many of us. There are quotas to meet, high internal and external expectations, and an ever-increasing amount of information that we are expected to know and process. Meanwhile, Jesus says, “Peace. Be still.” And Paul says, “Be in the world and not of it.”
How does this all come together?
For me, the answer has been surprisingly simple: Love your neighbor as yourself. As the Holy Spirit has been at work in my life, my heart has softened, empowering me to truly love others not for who I think they are, but for who they are in God’s sight. I’ve found Tim Keller’s definition of love helpful: “Fully knowing someone and fully accepting them.” For me this has meant taking time to ask questions and learn who the people around me are—what their fears are, what their dreams are—and withholding judgment.
Since Ashleigh and I have had Jackson, I’ve become increasingly aware that more behavior is caught than taught, and I’m wondering if that is not just confined to parenting, but is true of our Christian witness, as well. Others don’t view us in light of what we say we believe, but what our actions say we believe.
May God help us love more like Jesus.
Josh is a member of the vestry and, alongside Ashleigh, co-leads a weekly group in their home in Attleboro. They attend the 11am service, where Josh often serves as a greeter.