Humbleness in the workplace

As Christians whether we are the “boss”, in any kind of prominent position ya like a pastor, or just known as a Christian where you work, or part of group, in the community, there is a kind of attitude and humility that is generally part of being a Christian. I like C.S. Lewis’ quote: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” To be sure, we are more Christlike when we are more concerned with the interests of others then our own concerns, our own agenda. Believe me it is a struggle for me.

What’s that fine line between who is in charge and how that looks and thinking of others. To be sure Father Frederick Nkwasibwe’s observation that: “Humility occasions commitment to conquer all conditioning’s and biases within oneself. In addition, it occasions combat of individual, institutional and structural discrimination and prejudice.” (Business Courage p 397) Too be sure we need to be aware of our prejudices in many areas of our makeup. Jesus certainly modeled that. Certainly 1st century Israel was a very provincial and prideful people. They were God’s chosen and everyone else wasn’t. There was particular acrimony between them and Samaritans, in Jesus’ interactions with Samaritans He showed as much charity to them and other non-Israelites as He did to anyone. He also dealt with those who were prideful in no uncertain terms. In terms of humility, it is being focused on what is important, are we truly acting in a way that brings glory to God. Sometimes you have to hold people accountable and Jesus did that with His own followers and with those in the Jewish leadership. But He did not let another’s ethnicity or as it were “paganism” be a barrier. Jesus treated the Roman centurion with respect, the Syro-Phoenician woman, and the Samaritans. He served them all even though they were very far from knowing who Jesus was and what He was all about.

“Demonstrating humility in leading, interpersonal communication, developing human skills, learning, implementing corrective action and giving feedback among others constitute a big advantage of practicing and living healthy mature-faith-focus workplace spirituality. This highly impacts productivity. For example, a humble and contrite heart of the boss does not accept to live luxuriously at the expense of the staff and endeavors to bridge the disparity in top-up allowances of benefits that exists between himself and the staff. The courage of leadership typified by the virtue of temperance is, for example, required by the highly paid CEOs or MDs at an S&P 500 company or other organizations making over 100 times more than a typical worker receives. Similarly, a humble and contrite heart of the follower is always cautious and prudent yet tight-lipped when it lacks evidence to speak… Humility makes leaders unashamed to behave in a manner that is not a popular workplace fashion yet a righteous one….Humility makes it easy for leadership to establish credible and altruistic workplace structures that can effectively and ethically moderate tempers and mediate between competing workplace discords.” (pp 397-398)

This is a genuine concern of mine, in my own experience I’ve seen too many “leaders” make decisions that were based on pride and/or popularity. It is certainly instructive to me. As a still, relatively, new pastor, I’ve had to learn the hard way about leadership decisions, that might have been more about perception, then an actual act of pridefulness. How to assert authority, but still do it in a way that isn’t prideful, abrasive, or at least even perceived that way? Jesus could certainly do it and impact even His enemies. We watched Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ again last night. Doing this blog and the movie being fresh in my mind, at least in the movie, even in defeat/crucifixion, Jesus left a discernible mark on those who witnessed His “defeat”. Certainly the Roman centurion’s witness at the crucifixion: “Truly this man was the Son of God”. (Mark 15:39) Even in the degradation and torture of crucifixion, Jesus was still perceived having strength and dignity. Was it Jesus’ true concern for those who were there, for all humanity, that showed through and influenced their perception? As a Christian leader we balance the good of the organization, our authority and need to do our job with genuine concern for those stakeholders we serve. We know stakeholders are management, shareholders, peers, employees. Yea, it’s a lot, we trust in Christ to guide us through these situations too.

We meet at the coffeehouse at the corner of W King and Beaver Sts, no cost (yea, I’ll even buy your first cup of coffee), no obligation, come on down, break up the day and join in some good discussion about being Christian in the workplace. Wednesdays 10am, parking is open right behind the church 140 W King.

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