Weaving the message of Jesus into our words and work:

Christians at the Office



III. Living the Light -- lifestyle issues


A. Work for the success of others:


"Hey, how's the big project coming?...YYY...is there anything I could contribute to helping it be successful for you?"


"Hey, how's the big project coming?...YYY...what's the biggest issue you face right now on it?...Hmm, is there any way I could be of assistance with that, friend?..."


"Bob, I just ran across this magazine article in your field, and I thought about you. I don't know if it would be of value to you, but I clipped it for you just in case...I hope it is of value" (works by interoffice mail, as well as face-to-face).



New hire from outside the area: Try to find out family structure, where they live, interests, special needs. Then create an 'info packet' for them, with suggested sites to see (with maps) and resources available...be SURE to include a map to PBC with hours and classes, matched to kids ages [write it up if you have to].





B. Genuine praise for their work and choices:


To them:


"Joan, I believe that quality should be recognized--and I think you did a quality piece of work on that project/report/meeting"


"Joan, I really respect the way you stood up for Bob in the meeting the other day. I think that was the right thing to do. I think your fairness to him was admirable."


"Joan, I know I am an outsider to this deal, but I just wanted to comment on the sensitivity you showed the other day to Martha, on her family situation. It showed great sensitivity on your part, and good values too. I just wanted you to know that."


About them:


"Joan, you might get a call from Carl--we were in a meeting last Wednesday, and I was bragging on the quality of your work on the Forbin project. So, he might be calling you up for some advice on his upcoming Colossus project.


A simple Kudos email/memo to their boss, with copies to them.



C. The issue of balance/moderation and excellence


Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. (1 Thess 4.11)


Moderation/Balance: A beautiful garden (a mix of blended beauties and qualities)


"I MUST keep this specific project in perspective. I have learned more times than once over the years--from my Ultimate Manager (pointing a finger upwards, and looking upward quickly)--that success is often a function of balance between competing demands on my resources. I HAVE TO keep that in mind in moving this project along. So, how do you think we could approach this particular challenge, Brenda?"



Excellence: The brightest rose (an event of exceptional quality and beauty)


"I really have an opportunity (and resources and commitment from management) to create something of exceptional quality here. Often, I have to settle for more 'regular' types of output, but here I might get a chance to do the Little Drummer Boy thing--"I have no gifts to bring, I'll play my drum for Him"--hey, its a religious thing to me, okay?" (with a smile and a shrug)


These two values ARE in conflict sometimes, but only at very high 'excellence' levels (e.g., Olympic, world-class)--NOT at 'best practice' levels!



D. The issue of Christian trinkets (be careful--think through the message of each)


         Will often stereotype you into the 'wrong/weird group'!


         May look 'pushy' to some


         Almost never "leads with love" (unless a subtle bible verse, e.g. Mt 11.28f)


         Often too close to 'buzzwords'


         Affords opportunity to focus on the real issues later:


"Ed, are you a religious person or something? You've mentioned God a couple of times recently, but I had no idea you were religious."


"Yeah, now that you ask, Ed, I am a Christian, I asked Jesus to take an active role in my life and future about seven years ago, during a difficult time in our family. Best thing I ever did, Ed--I wish I had done it sooner-- and someday, over lunch, maybe I can give you the pocket-sized version of what happened. But I don't do the Christian trinket thing on my desk--even though there's nothing wrong with it--basically because I believe that caring for others when they need help is a better message than "Jesus Saves" stickers, if you know what I mean. I am not against those sweet people putting them on their desks, of course (I have some at home myself), its just that I would rather people know that I am a follower of Jesus by how I try to live as He did. For what that's worth, friend (smile)...



E. Dealing with demands for questionable ethical practices:


Most importantly, do NOT assume that only you know what is right and wrong! Love believes the best, and asks before it judges--everyone is entitled to a fair trial:


"Boss, I need some real help on this. Not having the experience you have had in the firm (or in this kind of area), I probably am missing some background information here. I gotta be honest, boss, my "Christian conscience" alarms are going off like crazy! Granted, I've been wrong about a couple of these before, but I feel really uncomfortable with this, and I either need some help from you in understanding how this would NOT be ethically wrong for us and for our company, or I need you to respect that and ask someone else to do it, who might have a more experienced view than I..."


If the explanation sounds like the ones we used in the fifth grade:


         "No one will find out"

         "No one will catch us"

         "Its not that big of a deal to them"

         "We really deserve this anyway"

         "They really don't deserve this money anyway"

         "They mistreated me, and I'm gonna pay them back"

         "We're not really 'stealing' , we're just borrowing it"

         "We can bring it back before they notice it's gone"

         "Its just a small amount"

         "Everybody does it"


Then you have to push back, gently and respectfully:


"Boss, you're probably right about that, and you know I have a lot of respect for your professionalism and commitment to our organization. But I can't seem to get this unease out of my heart, and I know it would affect my ability to whole-heartedly support you in the future, if I had to live with this gnawing doubt about myself and about you over this event. I know I am probably seeing this too simplistically, but I've got to ask you to not put me in this position of forever feeling pressure to 'confess' this to somebody...Can I ask you to respect that, and consider someone else for this?"


If (1) the answer is 'no' or (2) the earlier 'fifth-grade explanation' was "I'll beat you up if you don't":


"Boss, you know you've put us both in a tough position here. I know you are probably just being aggressive here, but its somehow coming across as a threat. I certainly wouldn't ask you to violate your conscience or your values under pressure, and would actually expect you to stand up to such pressure. The bottom line here, Boss, is that I cannot do this because I am uncomfortable with the ethics of my involvement. You might be right that YOUR involvement in doing this would not be a moral or criminal offense (which either of us would be obligated to report)--that's your ethical issue-- but I believe in my heart that MY involvement WOULD be wrong. I'm not trying to judge you here Boss, and I would hope that I could completely forget this uncomfortable conversation and go back to the good working relationship I have enjoyed with you over the past YYY weeks/months/years. I've got more than enough challenges to keep my head busy on Project A, initiative B, and campaign C--which, by the way, I need your direction on urgently. Can we drop this other subject now, and move on the design issue on the new prototype? I need your input on whether we should use plan A or plan B for the options. Do you have time to talk about that now, or do you want to set a time tomorrow?"


F. Dealing with 'dirty jokes'


You will sometimes get these in group settings, simply to embarrass you or to see how a Christian "reacts" to this.



Two tactics:


         Preclude: "Wait, wait, wait before you start that joke!! Is this gonna be one of those things that could get us 'dinged for' on our personnel files, or even busted by HR? I don't wanna be around if it's something that can be subpoenaed! If so, let me know and I will GLADLY 'step outside'--the issue has gotten too risky in our industry for my comfort level, friend..."


         Defuse: After the joke is done, simply give a little sneer and shake of the head (like for a bad pun), and change the subject: "Hmpfh...Hey, by the way, did anyone see how the game turned out the other day? I had to leave it at 12-11?" (hopefully, this might stop the 'joke chain' that often occurs in such settings.




G. Freedom - One of the grace-gifts of the Christian faith is the freedom in Christ from 'religious rules'...If you have a background in a more rigid religious upbringing, the freedom from duty and from law and from guilt over having fun (!) can be a wonderful revelation in itself to these folk.




H. Being considerate of feelings:


"I really don't want to make you feel uncomfortable with this remark, friend--believe me!--but at the risk of doing so, I just want to encourage you to take a fresh, "non-Churchy" look at the message of Jesus..."



I. General ethical and work issues: "as unto the Lord..."