Researchers say that over the course of a lifetime, we will have spent one-third of our lives at work. Whether we work remotely, in an office, or a combination of both—we spend big chunks of days and weeks engaging with our coworkers: over 2,000 hours a year. How we treat them is a much truer reflection of our faith than church attendance or going to a Bible study with friends.
Few business books outright tell you to love the people you work with, but the Bible is clear that we need to do exactly that. The bottom line is found in 1 John 4:19: “We love because he first loved us (NIV).” God’s character and teachings don’t tell us to compartmentalize love and keep it in a safe little box outside the workplace. His love is in us, which means it should go with us everywhere, including the office or wherever we may work.
So how exactly do we love our neighbor at work?
Be Mindful Picture a red umbrella that covers every action you could possibly take to show love to your coworkers. There’s one word painted on the umbrella: mindfulness. When I was a senior vice president working in corporate America, I discovered that mindfulness is the key to loving well at work, because it helps us see opportunities:
- the person who is irritable because her family is sick
- the person who is stressed because a project is going south
- the person who is celebrating a birthday or anniversary
- the new person who is nervous
- the person who is disappearing under her workload
Whether you’re in a physical office or attending meetings virtually, make it a point to see people and notice details. Ask God to open your eyes to those around you who may need encouragement or support. Then reach out. Send a message or an email. Make a call. Write a note. Buy the person coffee or lunch. Be present and listen.
Be Proactive You can act based on someone’s need, but you can also simply choose to proactively spread kindness throughout the workplace. The smallest actions can often have the biggest impact.
- Express gratitude: Thank people specifically and often. Is there someone who helped you meet an objective? Do you work with someone whose positive attitude is contagious? Did someone go out of her way to make your job easier?
- Call out excellence: Be generous in giving recognition. Praise someone’s achievements in a meeting, to the person’s boss, or one-on-one.
- Call out potential: If you notice employees with an aptitude or skill that may not be recognized or even official, let them know what you see. Encourage them to use their gifts.
- Invest time: Whether you’re a leader in your organization or not, choose to invest in the people around you. People who are new to the organization need to understand how the workplace culture works and could benefit from your experience. Informally mentor them to help them succeed.
For those of us who work full-time, one-third of our lives will be spent in the workplace. We have that many opportunities to love well! I pray God would find us faithful.
I believe one of the next great moves of God is going to be through the believers in the workplace.
-Dr. Billy Graham