It would be hard to imagine any worker who has not been confronted with the issue of a difficult boss or a challenging co-worker. ?No wonder the authors?of?The Gospel at Work?(TGaW) devote a chapter to this pervasive workplace issue.
I once had a boss (in a parachurch organisation) who would regularly say, “It’s the people things that kill.”??We can write reports, hammer nails, iron shirts, analyse spreadsheets, design solutions all day. ?But often the greatest stressor in the workplace is the people we work with or for – they just don’t seem to see the world the way we do!
So it is just a little jarring when two paragraphs into Chapter 7, Traeger and GIlbert ?observe that,?‘The difficulty we?perceive?with our?co-workers?or bosses or employees?often?doesn’t have as much to do with them as it does with us.”
Consistent with their framework, they go on to say that, “If you make work an idol, you will perceive your boss as an obstacle and your co-workers as competitors … And if you become idle in your job, you’ll treat your boss with contempt and your co-workers will become sounding boards for your complaints.” ?
Conversely,?the gospel frees us from the fruits of idolatry and idleness and allows us to see our work colleagues as people – made in God’;s image and loved by him. ?
The idea of faith-fuelled service?as the antidote to idolatry and idleness is proposed. Referring again to the key passage, Colossians 3:22-4:1, the authors emphasise the principle of serving those in authority whether or not one is being watched. ?Ultimately, it is not the boss we serve; it is Jesus!
Four?marks of a faith-fuelled servant in the workplace are outlined:
- Determination not to complain:?”… when someone comes along who doesn’t speak Complaint as their native language, the effect can be astonishing.” (Philippians 2:14-16)
- Happy submission to authority: “It’s easy to submit when your boss is a paragon of kindness, respect, and goodwill. ?But when your boss is a flat-out jerk …, how you respond reveals your heart – whether you really are working for Jesus.” (Colossians 3:22)
- Unfeigned humility: “When once you find your worth in Christ’s work and your identity in him, you realise you are free to serve in whatever role and capacity he may have for you.“ (Philippians 2:5-8)
- Godly Competitiveness: “Our goal as Christians is to compete with and love our co-workers at the same time … We compete by working at whatever we do with all our heart, not by undercutting and sabotaging the efforts of our co-workers … [we] help them see where they can improve their work, and congratulate them when they advance.”?
So take a moment and ask yourself a few tough questions:
- When was the last time you saw a colleague or a supervisor as an obstacle to your career ambitions? How did you respond?
- When was the last time you complained bitterly about a decision that impacted your work context??
- When was the last time you were involved in a clash or a power struggle with a colleague? How important was it to win? What was your motivation?
- When was the last time you were given a task to complete that you thought was beneath you? Did you do it well or half-heartedly or perhaps delegate it to someone else?
Remember, the workplace is one of the main arenas of God’s sanctification process – the place where God wants to mould and shape you to be more like the Master! It’s the place where you serve Jesus and learn, ‘… to love and serve others – whether they deserve it or not.”?
Murray Wright (20/1/2015?
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