When I was growing up, I had a murky idea of what it meant to be saved by Jesus. I had “asked Him into my heart,” went to Sunday school every week, and memorized Bible passages. I went to youth group and “guarded my heart” by only listening to music with uplifting, clean messages. I had posters featuring celebrities who chose to wait to until they were married to sleep with their spouses on my wall. And I was missing the point.
As I got older and left the safety and symmetry of my parents’ Christian home, I began to uncover some unpleasant truths about myself. I was stubborn. I was selfish. And I really liked to gossip. It drove me into despair.
Only after I got to the end of myself did I realize, finally, that it was never about me at all. As a sinner saved by grace, I was not required to be anything but desperate for God’s love. I could look at the ugly, unsweet truth about my sweet self and not feel condemned. And I needed to show others the same mercy every day.
Exposing the difference in your heart does not require in-depth knowledge of Scripture, or a squeaky-clean past. Mostly, it needs grace, genuine love, and patience. Through a myriad of mistakes, I learned to be a witness where I work every day.
Forgive Often, and Beautifully
When I say or do stupid things I am always so compassionate with myself. I was tired when it happened, or hurt by something someone else said, and wasn’t using my head. But when someone else pained me with their words I used to always assume they were intended to throw me into turmoil. Giving others the benefit of the doubt will help you even when they really were “taking pot-shots.” It relieves the burden of worrying about their cruelty and all that it implies. And people around you will take notice of your attitude, even if they don’t mention it to you.
Keep A Tight Reign On Your Tongue
I learned the hard way that there are people who will befriend you in order to talk to you about a mutual acquaintance in “confidence,” and use what you said about your supervisor or your student or your client to their own advantage, and to your detriment. What the Bible says about gossip has practical, as well as spiritual, benefits. We are to be “shrewd as snakes and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16.) Be friendly, funny, and sociable, but keep your opinions to yourself. If someone is really making your job difficult, present your concern to your supervisor in a positive and constructive way. Focus on the facts of what happened and avoid making character judgments about the other person. Your professionalism will be noted.
Build Others Up
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building others up” (Ephesians 4:29) Again, I learned this one the hard way. We all want to feel that we are capable of doing a good job, and a compliment can go so far to mend a discouraged spirit. I was amazed at how quickly I started to be encouraged once I started applauding others and giving genuine praise when I was pleased or impressed. You cannot say too many kind things, and other people will start to become more generous with their reassurance of you.
Take Feedback Well
See it as an opportunity to improve, rather than a criticism of your personality. Everyone has ways they can do their job better, and you are probably doing other things well. In humility, know that you are a human who is still growing and learning. But know that growing and learning is what will help you to be successful; no one started out at the top.
Leave The Rest Up to God
As a mother of three, my job has no small importance to my family. It puts food on the table and provides swim lessons and soccer jerseys. But it doesn’t help anyone to worry about the smaller incidents of the day when you are in your parent pants. Know that God cares for your family more than you do, and things will resolve as they need to.
How have you shown God’s love at work?