What would you say if I asked you how your faith connects to your work?
You might say your faith compels you to work with excellence, or to work with integrity, or even to look for opportunities to share your faith with others at work. You might talk about how you work hard to free up time and money to give or serve at church. And all of those would be terrific responses.
(In previous posts we have talked about some of these: here and here.)
But have you ever thought about how you can apply the truth of the gospel and biblical principles to influence the culture of your workplace?
If you spend 50 hours a week at work, that’s more than 40 percent of your waking hours. For many of us, work is the primary place where discipleship and transformation can intersect. It is the primary means God gives us of loving our neighbors, serving our communities, and developing others – and being developed ourselves. And yet, we are prone to believe that “discipleship” happens only over a cup of coffee with an open Bible and a friend, or in our small groups.
Here are 3 key principles to influence your workplace culture today:
A healthy workplace starts with a healthy you.
Christians who consistently live out their faith at work look very different from other leaders. If your influence does not begin with self-leadership, rooted in an abiding relationship with Jesus and anchored in the truth of His word, you will not be able to influence your workplace for the glory of God in any positive, lasting way (John 15:4-8). So any change you want to see in your workplace must start with you.
You can’t give what you don’t have. So, start by asking, How’s my walk with the Lord? Am I in His word, meditating, praying and living it out? Are there equipping opportunities that I should take advantage of to understand more what living out my faith in the workplace should look like?
Effective conflict resolution creates a healthier workplace.
If I’m totally honest, I’ve spent the majority of my life avoiding conflict - not resolving it. However, unresolved conflict and the bitterness it produces build barriers to relationship and prevent trust. (Eph. 4:31) Without healthy relationships and trust, our workplaces will never reflect what God intends.
For biblical conflict resolution to be a value, it must start with a belief that the people you work with are more important than the product you’re working on. Of course, productivity is important, but if you are not committed to working on the relationships around you and pursuing peace, then WHAT you do has eclipsed WHO you are.
One of our cultural values here at Watermark is that we fight hard to avoid gossip. If a colleague shares an issue he or she has with the someone else, we pause and go find that teammate and include them in the conversation. Or alternatively, if that’s not possible, the person with the issue must go and discuss it with the other person within twenty-four hours. This effectively guards against distrust and “office politics” and allows us to believe the best about each other.
Why don’t you try this principle this week? When you hear a co-worker complaining about someone else, a leadership decision, or the company, ask whether they have addressed that with the other person. If not, challenge them to do that, and encourage them to believe the best about that person.
Relationships are the currency of the workplace.
Relationships do not happen by accident. They take time and work. But the investment in others is not only biblical, but beneficial - as deepened trust creates healthier teams, co-workers who care about each others’ success, and more engagement in the overall mission.
An African proverb states: If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together. When we care enough to move beyond the small talk and surface questions, and we really begin to learn about those we work with, God can work in new ways to sharpen and refine us, and give us a ministry to our co-workers - comforting, encouraging, and speaking truth and grace to those around us.
Our team spends some time every Monday morning catching up on each other’s weekend - what’s going on in the lives of each other and praying for one another. This deepens our bonds and allows us to be more productive, more attuned to each other, and engaged the rest of the week. Are there ways that you can incorporate a few intentional minutes each week to deepen a relationship with a co-worker? Are there some ways to have fun and deepen relationships with your co-workers outside of the office?
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