(Day 2 of Testimony in the Workplace Study)
“But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor. For each will have to bear his own load (Galatians 6:4-5, ESV).”
Before caller-ID was as common as it is today, I remember picking the phone up at work oblivious as to who was on the other end of the line. Unfortunately, it was a customer who was not in the best of moods, as he went on to berate me at full volume, unchecked and uncensored. As a young employee, it wasn’t the most fun I’d ever had in a day! The one-side conversation ended with him saying, “Why didn’t you speak with [name withheld] before you made that decision?” I told him the truth—[name withheld] was a senior member of our staff, and he had guided me to make that decision. He swiftly hung up and called [name withheld] who sat a few seats away from me. And so I was able to listen as [name withheld] deflected all blame, and told the customer in relation to me, “Hey, these young guys—what can you do?” To say it was disappointing was an understatement, and it was definitely a lesson learned.
One of the fastest ways to lose respect and destroy your integrity (and testimony) in the workplace is to refuse to accept responsibility for your negative actions. Taking the blame when we deserve to take it isn’t enjoyable. But, as Paul wrote, “…each will have to bear his own load.” If you’ve made a mistake, own up to it. It’s far better to be up front about it and bear the consequences. Imagine being found out later— then you have to bear the consequences of what you did and for being found out as a liar! I’m reminded of a note my wife currently has up in our home: “Do what is right, not what is easy.” Living like a Christian in the workplace involves upholding integrity, doing what is right, and accepting blame—even when it isn’t easy. It could be that your employer or your boss will respect you for having integrity, and the consequences might not be as dire as you fear. But, regardless, our testimony and integrity need to be guarded before our employment.
On the other side of the card, another destructive action we can take is refusing to deflect praise for a co-worker or subordinate’s positive actions. Unfortunately, I have experienced this as well. Maybe you send an email to your boss with a wise, well-written recommendation. Your boss copies that email, sends it to senior management, and takes the credit as is if he or she wrote it. It has happened to me, and it is quite frustrating. I have even seen a person then send the praise from their superiors which they received back to the original sender and say, “Hey, they liked your idea!” But nobody but their boss knew the source! Talk about slimy! Be willing not only to bear the blame, but to share the fame. Don’t take credit for someone else’s work—that’s the essence of Galatians 6:4. If you have been placed into a management or supervisory role, be sure to give your workers credit when they do well or produce good work. There is no good reason to steal the spotlight! First of all, as a Christian, it’s a poor example of pride rotting us from within. Second of all, your management chain should be happy to hear about fresh talent in the pipeline. And, finally, it leads to discontent with your direct reports. I’ve never heard anyone thank their boss for stealing their ideas. Sure, you get a little pat on the back, but it’s really a bafflingly bad idea all around!
These issues really only scratch the surface of our integrity in the workplace. They display the fact that we affirm these truths—we stand for what is morally right, and oppose what is morally wrong. As Christians, these are actions we should naturally take. But, of course, the right path doesn’t always come naturally. We fight the battle against negative outward and inward influences every day, and that battle will certainly spill into the workplace environment. We must take that daily stand, and let our light shine for our Lord!