Day 4 of Testimony in the Workplace Study
“…Which commandment is the most important of all? Jesus answered, “The most important is, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these (Mark 12:28-31, ESV).”
Have you ever found yourself walking toward someone in a hallway, and they suddenly have an intense interest in the floor? Or, out of the blue, something on the wall is something they can’t live without seeing? Basically, they’re trying to look anywhere but at you. I can think of several folks I worked with over the years that had that reaction consistently. One in particular almost made me laugh. If I would then say hello to her, it was as if it was the shock of all shocks! As if she had no clue I was walking toward her. Being the kind of person I am, I would occasionally walk backward with her after she passed, matching stride for stride, bend over slightly and wave. And, again, the great faux shock—“Oh, hi there!” as if I materialized out of thin air. I was never convinced she was shy (because, man, could she talk when she wanted to), and I wasn’t the only person she interacted with in this manner. I was often left wondering if she just didn’t care about other people.
Even if we aren’t the most outgoing people in the world, it’s hard to display the Christ-like characteristic of loving our neighbor (co-worker) as ourselves if we never interact with them. As Christians, we should look at these interactions as yet another way to be an example of Christ. Whether our peers are believers or unbelievers actually doesn’t even matter here—our interpersonal relationship with them should be summed up in the manner of which Christ spoke. We should display Christ-like love and care to them.
First, we should be kind. People remember when we are kind to them, but they probably remember even more when we are not. This becomes particularly true the higher up you may rise within your organization (or if you are a business owner). I fondly remember a gentleman, who has since retired, and was a rather high-level executive. To him, it never mattered if he was interacting with another executive or an entry-level, day 1 employee. He was always kind. At our annual Christmas luncheon, I vividly remember him sitting down at seemingly random tables to eat year after year. He wasn’t one to sit with the other executives, and interacted with all levels of employees with remarkable kindness. And there is the other side of the coin—the condescending, arrogant, self-absorbed executives that I’m sure we can all remember. Sadly, those individuals often stay in our memory banks much longer. If we want to leave the type of impression that is consistent with loving our neighbor, we must be kind to all of our co-workers. There is no place for a Christian (inside or outside of the office) to be arrogant, condescending, or belittling to others. Not only will it damage our testimony, but it only leads to the double-barreled blast of dissension and bitterness aimed toward us. I’m often perplexed when leaders in the workplace don’t understand that! Be kind to others, and show them that you care about others!
Of course, this is just scratching the surface. Not only should we be kind, but we should display joy in our relationships and interact in such a way that proves we value them. Our fellow workers aren’t disposable, and so we shouldn’t treat them that way. We spend a significant portion of our time with them, and so we must understand that they are our “neighbors.” Let’s make certain we treat them that way, then. When we start viewing ourselves as superior, we’ll quickly treat others as inferior. When we do that, people will notice and it is the type of thing that will stick to you like glue! When folks start associating us with that type of behavior, our testimony before them is going to be gravely damaged. I’ve often had conversations with co-workers and other managers that have centered on this very topic. Trust me—people despise being treated as inferiors or with condescension! This should be a no-brainer, but people actually want to be respected. I know—shocking! If we treat them accordingly, they’ll notice. How do we want to be viewed and what behavior do we want to be associated with? If our peers at work were asked to list the first 3-4 words that came to their minds when they thought about us, what would that list look like? What sort of a reputation do we have? These are all important questions to say the least! If I characterize my relationships, interactions, and behavior after the pattern of “loving my neighbor,” some of those answers might change for the better. And I would be fine with that!