Touching Lives in the Workplace
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Is it easier to have an effect on people outside of work or on those in the workplace? Most people would argue we’re at work to meet our employer’s needs, not those of other people.
Yet supervisors can make an unusual impact on people who report to them. Rather than fostering a pressure cooker, they can help create a positive work setting that nurtures employees, vendors and customers alike.
If you report to someone in leadership, you too have more influence than you may realize. Your attitude and actions can help transform a toxic work environment into a place where everyone feels welcome and alive.
Transforming a workplace may sound easy, but it isn’t. For starters, the pressure to perform and the monotony of the routine loom large. Combining them makes strife inevitable.
Now add some imperfect people jousting with life. We all bring collateral to our work that makes everyone’s job more difficult, including our own. Character flaws, skill deficiencies and issues outside of work will adversely affect performance. We’re all human, and life can be tough.
To complicate matters further, where there’s money, there’s greed! And that temptation can motivate anyone to exploit other people. Rather than hard work, achievement and loyalty, the rungs on the corporate ladder are often clad with victims. They’re everywhere: shortchanged vendors, disgruntled customers and burned-out employees.
Businesses will always try to maximize profits to ensure their survival. Medical providers, schools and other public sector employers want to do more with less. Meanwhile, workers are competing for higher wages. Their families want a roof over their head, clothes on their back and food in their stomach – and perhaps more. Feel the pressure?
People bring their warts and foibles to every nook and cranny in a workplace. What happens after they arrive will shape them when they leave. They’ll carry the rewards, challenges and wounds with them everywhere.
Furthermore, workers come from a potpourri of circumstances, backgrounds and beliefs. Many of them are struggling to understand who they are, why they exist and what they should be doing with their lives. Some of them have little knowledge of history and the world around them. Others are so overwhelmed with problems that they are simply trying to survive. Every one of them is a work-in-progress at a different stage of development, just like you and me.
One at a time
Most of us want to help those in charge, but we don’t appreciate our impact on other people around us. We may influence these other colleagues more because we offer them our love and kindness while expecting nothing in return.
Consider these scenarios: Unbeknownst to you, a vendor whom you call every day has terminal cancer. And a coworker had a bad experience at home the night before.
Just as children influence one another, so too adults in the workplace. Treating others with dignity and respect helps alleviate their burden. A smile and courtesy also pay dividends.
Jesus gave a masterful, all-encompassing axiom for relationships: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you” (MEV). In the workplace, that means to treat others fairly and consistently, respect them and extend the grace they need.
Naturally, we wouldn’t want someone to lie to us, steal from us or cheat us. The Golden Rule teaches us to do right, obey orders and apply understanding to those we lead. Harshness is an unwelcome intruder.
Anyone who has peace with God brings salt and light to a world in need. The aroma of Christ wafts wherever they go. According to, people who know Christ are His ambassadors. The Holy Spirit uses them for important work in those who see a difference in the character – and work ethic – of these believers.
“For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life” (a NKJV).
Others are watching. And stakes are high. While doing right may contradict the seductive shortcuts, honoring God is easier with the following in mind: “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (NIV).
Work is more than getting things done and collecting a paycheck. We’re serving the One who put us there. We have the privilege of building a more virtuous workplace one brick at a time.
Is God using you where you work? Are you receiving – and giving – what is due?
Copyright © Tim Bishop 2017, used with permission.
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