Faith at Work

When I first started working for AT&T, one of my mentors told me that the two things he's learned to avoid discussing at work were religion and politics.  Subconsciously, I think I've taken that mantra and expanded that in ways he never intended.  It's not so much that I've denied my faith or kept it hidden.  Rather, I built walls to compartmentalize my private (family, faith) and my professional lives.  Actually, that's not quite true -- I've often applied lessons learned from work to activities at church or to help family with computer/networking issues.

Over the last 5 years, AT&T has invested heavily in leadership training for all of its managers.  One common, recurring emphasis has been on integrity and character.  This year was no different -- one of the primary was Harry Kraemer, the author of From Value to Action.  As Harry was speaking, I had one of those smack my forehead moments.  Whatever success I have at work is largely, if not wholly, due to my faith.  I've been abundantly blessed by God with talents and the opportunities at work.  But even more than that, my faith has offered me certain traits (things that don't quite make it on the résumé).

Harry spoke on these four principles of a value-based leader:

  1. Self-Reflection: "the key to identifying what you stand for, what your values are, and what matters most."  He encourages us to set time aside daily to get our bearings.  For me, this is nothing more than waking up an hour earlier than necessary to pray and delve into the Word.
  2. Balance: "the ability to see issues, problems, and question from all angles, including from differing viewpoints."  J.C. Ryle once said, "“For my part I am persuaded the more light we have, the more we see our own sinfulness; the nearer we get to heaven, the more we are clothed with humility.”  No matter how much Christians may wish to believe that they're set apart from the sinfulness of the world, we cannot forget that we share the same origins of depravity.  Our ability bask in the light while relating to the darkness is how we're best equipped to make disciples.  For my part I am persuaded the more light we have, the more we see our own sinfulness; the nearer we get to heaven, the more we are clothed with humility.
  3. True Self-Confidence: "Far more than just competency at your job or mastery of certain skills, true self-confidence is the attribute that allows you to see and accept yourself exactly as you are."  Faith has taught me to realize and accept that we are created (Psalm 100:3), loved (John 3:16), and cared for in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16).  With that in mind, I have assurance that I don't need to please my supervisor, co-workers, or even myself.  As long as I keep doing what's right by God (which often, by the way, ends up pleasing supervisors and co-workers), I need not worry doing things for the wrong reasons.
  4. Genuine Humility: "Never forgetting who you are, appreciating the value of each person in the organization, and treating everyone respectfully whether she is a senior manager or a summer intern."  The Apostle Peter teaches us to, "Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time." (1 Peter 5:6)  Whatever talents and opportunities I may have are thanks to God.  Just as with true confidence, I'm no better than the next person as we're all objects of His creation fully dependent on His grace and His love.  Our response to that love is not to Lord our blessings over others but to recall that "if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another."  (1 John 4:11)
I cannot credit Harry with what God has provided.  However, he brought these principles to light and in the context of the workplace.  I then wondered whether I may have been hoarding God's blessings by keeping my faith out of the workplace.  I have no intention of thumping heads with the Bible, but would coworkers care to know why I refuse to blame others for failures?  Would it serve them in knowing why "jeopardies" and "escalations" don't cause me to panic?  

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