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Former mortgage banker urges workplace ministry

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (BP)–Bill Nix’s 1993 commute from home to work was only 15 minutes, “but the distance between my office and my home was worlds apart.”

An active Christian who also was chief operating officer of a mortgage company, Nix acknowledged he was “experiencing God at home and at work. But every Monday I’d get in my car to go back into bondage. I was living in Canaan, but working in Egypt.”

A trip to a Boulder, Colo., Promise Keepers gathering of 50,000 men changed the direction of Nix’s life.

He heard Christian author and radio personality James Dobson tell the men, “When you come to the end of your life, the only thing that will matter will be who you loved, who loved you and what you did in service for your Creator.”

A hard-driving, successful mortgage banker who had modeled his career after icons such as Ivan Boesky and Charles Keating — icons whose business practices landed them in prison — Nix knew he had to make some big changes in the life he was leading in his workplace.

“When I got in touch with God about my work, he supernaturally removed the desire for me to do business the world’s way,” he said.

Nix, now president of Faith at Work based in Montgomery, Ala., details his journey to becoming an activist for bringing Christ to the workplace in his first book, “Transforming Your Workplace for Christ,” released April 1 by the Baptist Sunday School Board’s Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Too many Christians segregate God from a large part of their lives, Nix believes.

“Many Christians have bought into the myth that to succeed in the real world you have to do business the way the world does it,” he said. “They are active in church as leaders, but on Monday they become monsters in the workplace.”

Nix sought to make a difference by developing an employee training program (seminar and workbook) on character, based on the life of Christ. During an intensive study of the four gospels of the New Testament, he “wrote down every trait I could find of Christ.” He consolidated the list to these top 10:

— love

— encouragement

— forgiveness

— balance

— accountability

— excellence

— communication

— promise keeping

— stewardship

— integrity.

Through his training program, Nix sought to teach the life of Christ “in a provocative but appropriate way.”

“If you go into the typical workplace, pull your Bible out and start preaching, people’s eyes are going to glaze over,” Nix said. Instead, he wrote his training program as a “sharing from my heart,” based in Scripture but actually quoting few verses.

“What I wanted to do was plant a seed and let God work,” he said.

He quickly saw evidence that God was touching lives through the material.

“All of a sudden a stream of people started coming to my office wanting to talk with me,” Nix said. They wanted to know more about the program.

As he opened his Bible and showed them the traits of Jesus, he had many opportunities to witness. He also saw changes in people’s lives.

“Their progress became like test-driving Christianity. The more they learned, the deeper they wanted to go. It was very affirming to see that happen. I had prayed it would,” Nix said.

“I began to see my co-workers and my workplace differently when I accepted God’s call to be a workplace prophet,” Nix writes in his book.

As they worked through the character program, he saw people grapple with common but difficult workplace issues such as how to get along with a difficult boss. Through the study, Nix said, attitudes change from “How am I going to put up with this guy?” to “How am I going to minister to him?”

The question for which Nix personally sought an answer was “why would God put me in the secular workplace only to give me a heart for ministry?”

As word of the training program spread, Nix began to teach his course in other companies and also to lead seminars in churches. After completing his book manuscript in late 1995 and with his wife Terri’s encouragement, he left the secular workplace to start Faith at Work Ministries.

“She told me, ‘You know what God wants you to do. Go do it.’ The decision was scary, but it was real easy to make,” said Nix, who, at 37, has embarked on a faith journey. It is one he feels compelled to make.

“You have seen the self-centeredness of our workplace worlds,” he writes in his book’s final chapter. “Many of us work today to create the cash for self-indulgence, the wherewithal for self-reliance, and the position for self-image. Our world emphasizes self, but such self-centeredness is hostile to the cause of Christ.”

“Transforming Your Workplace for Christ” is available at Baptist Book Stores and Christian bookstores.

    About the Author

  • Linda Lawson