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How to not compromise your witness at the company Christmas party

By: becca garvin

‘Tis the season for holiday parties.

Depending on who you work with, your office party is either an event to look forward to or one to dread. Tons of food and drinks. Friends (or not) and terrible dancing. Endless epiphanies and internal monologue as you meet your colleagues’ spouses. There’s the manager whose liquid courage has him belting out Journey songs and the sales rep who breaks it down to Lil’ Wayne in front of everyone.

I’m not sure what your office dynamic looks like, but I have seen the extremes. There are people who party hard, and people who look upon such activities with disdain while avoiding anyone associated.

As Christians, our place is neither of those options. We are commanded not to get drunk, and we are commanded not to judge. We have to find a balance of being in the world but not being of the world, just like Jesus tells us to.

Have Fun Without Regrets

I know what it’s like to be physically present and mentally absent with a head full of wine and Fireball shots instead of a brain. I’ve been the star of a few after-party stories. The kind you don’t ever want your grandchildren to uncover. Or your kids. Or your mom.

There is nothing wrong raising a glass with your coworkers. Alcohol is fine in moderation, but there is also nothing less festive about choosing water instead.

At the end of a long section on Christian responsibility, Romans 13:13-14 says, “Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.”

Not only does the Bible caution us against drunkenness and debauchery, in the same sentence we’re also told to avoid dissension and jealousy.

A “holier than thou” attitude never saved anyone, and it won’t start to now. That judgment cocktail is just as much of a hindrance to people knowing Jesus as having  a sixth vodka and soda. We can be different without being difficult. It is our job as followers of Jesus to mirror His willingness to meet people where they are and love unconditionally.

No matter how long we’ve been following Jesus, we are all susceptible to temptation when we’re partying with mixed company. The key to overcoming temptation comes down three Ms for me:

  1. Mindfulness. Recognizing my weaknesses helps me to prepare for the temptations that might come my way. Maybe it’s not drinking too much that you struggle with. Maybe it’s the way you seek attention from that married colleague. Ask Jesus for help, set boundaries, and put loving accountability in place — whether it’s a date who will look out for you or a friend who will check in before and after.
  2. Moderation. Know your limits and stick to them. Go ahead and dismiss the idea that “one more won’t hurt.”
  3. Motivation. Examine what is behind the choices you are making. My struggle was never with craving alcohol itself. I was more of an escape addict. Substance abuse began as a way to numb pain. The only way to break the cycle was to let Jesus heal my pain.

Why What You Do Matters

Our decisions do not affect just us. People are watching, and what we do can either draw people closer to Jesus or push them away.

We aren’t the first people to struggle with this. The first Christians had a similar battle when it came to sharing meals or going to parties with nonbelievers. The apostle Paul’s advice for them is still helpful for us:

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved” (1 Corinthians 10:23-33).

The way we represent Jesus can either help or hurt others, so the real question becomes: Do I care more about myself or about how I’m representing Jesus? Because if I care more about how I’m representing Jesus, I’m going to consider others before myself. For example, can I help my coworkers see Jesus better by going to the party or staying home from the party? (Either one might be true!) And if I do go, what am I’m gaining or giving up by having a glass of wine? Is it worth it?

We’re not going to be great ambassadors for Jesus if we’re too inebriated to hear the Holy Spirit speak to us.

A wasted witness isn’t the best representation of Jesus. Neither is someone who looks down on others. We can’t fulfill our mission to share the Gospel if we avoid people who aren’t like us. And we’re not going to be great ambassadors for Jesus if we’re too inebriated to hear the Holy Spirit speak to us. There is a balance.

And it’s our opportunity this Christmas to find it.

If you do not feel capable of curbing your desire to drink too much, please reach out for help. You can break free from addiction, and we want to help.

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