How We Shape Our Workplace
I left out something huge last time. I talked about how we are shaped by our jobs. I neglected to mention that it works both ways: that we influence our workplace even while our workplace is influencing us.
Consider just the examples I gave last time:
*On jargon: our response influences those around us. If we use all the buzzwords faithfully, we may become a poster child for the profession but may also make our workplace less hospitable for those who prefer to speak plain English. Or we may be so good at infusing jargon with meaning that others join in. There is no right or wrong answer to how to speak in the workplace. The point is just this: that our response, as well as the responses of our coworkers, will make our workplace what it is… and what it will become.
*On accountability: there are lots of ways in which we can respond positively to this. We may be gregarious and bring a sense of comradery to our department. Or we may be reserved but treat our coworkers with a great deal of respect. Or we may be the gentle soul whose door is always open when our coworkers need to vent. Again, there are many ways to bring a positive presence into the workplace, but all of them help to make our workplace what it is.
*On problem solving: some workplaces are filled with good problem solvers, and things get done there. Some workplaces are blessed with employees who have great interpersonal skills, or are really good at time-management or at dealing with conflict or fact-finding or decision-making. People like that are good to work with, because they improve the atmosphere for everybody. I’ve worked in places where the employees are not good at solving problems, or are not good at working out their differences or managing their time or the other things I just mentioned. And those were difficult work environments.
My point? That God is not only busy making us more Christlike through our engagement with our work, but is also busy blessing our workplace through us. Or at least that’s the plan.
Several posts ago, I asked what God does all day. I believe there are many good answers to that question, but I’ve been following the thread of one answer so far, and this is it: that God is making us into disciples of Christ (so long as we are receptive to the invitation) and that this disciple-making process is going on all the time. At our place of employment, that means that we’re being shaped by God through the specific things we do when we’re engaged in our work. And God is trying to bless those around us while this shaping process is going on.
As a philosophy professor, I have a slow and plodding way of answering a question… much slower than bloggers usually can tolerate. But now I’m ready to take this one answer (and I repeat: this is one out of many answers I would give to the question) and explain why I think this answer has been worth talking about. If you’ve stuck with me through the last several posts, then this should make sense to you: I’ve demonstrated one way in which we can view God’s activity in a totally secular context. I have refrained from quoting scripture, although there were many texts I might have quoted. I wanted to describe life as we know it in the modern office or factory and give just a few random examples of how God is active in those places. That’s what this blog is about: locating precise points of contact with God in life as we know it. And that’s important, because we in the modern world don’t seem to be very good at locating such places, even though they can be found everywhere.
Do you understand what I’m trying to do?