Being the Body of Christ in the Work World (Conclusion of Series)
I’ve been posing the question, “Why is good service so hard to find?” and I’ve said that the answer is not that workers are lazy or incompetent; it’s that we’re part of a sprawling cooperative venture that forces us to be interdependent. And that means that there are always going to be gaps between what Department A thinks Department B is going to do, and vice versa. Since we can’t read each other’s minds, we’ve got to communicate with each other. And we’re simply not very good at doing that. To complicate matters, upper management often decrees that Department B shall not have access to Department A’s information. So when Department B fails to do what Department A is expecting, then the people in Department A conclude that the people in Department B are either stupid or negligent. And so it goes.
From the beginning of this blog, though, I’ve asked you to consider what God is doing in our lives during those hours when we’re on the job. And now I challenge you to consider this: God is working through us to be the Body of Christ—and God is doing this especially when we are in the work world.
So, for example, if there are disciples of the Risen Christ who work in Department A and disciples who work in Department B (and, for that matter, in Departments C, D, and E), then the Spirit of the Risen Christ is moving upon each one to do what he or she can do to bring light to the darkness. In other words, we must all “seek understanding and give understanding,” to borrow a customer service slogan. And we should do it out of compassion and meekness, as Christ would if he were here in our place. That’s how Christ’s work is done in this age.
Here is what this means in terms of the case study we’ve been reviewing. If we work in training design, then we should consider ourselves advocates for the people who will be going through this training, always trying to anticipate questions they may have and asking those questions on our trainees’ behalf. If we are trainers, then we should be alert to the kinds of parking lot questions that come up again and again, and we should inform ourselves about those issues even though they aren’t in our script. If we write manuals, then we should always be thinking about what’s best for the employees who will rely on what we write. If we are part of a Help Desk, then we should always strive to learn as much as we can for our callers. And if we are an upper-level manager and we decide to hold back vital information from some departments, we should carefully consider the ramifications this will have for members of those departments. The things we do affect others, often in unexpected ways. Whatever our role within the company, we should view ourselves as servants of God and therefore of our fellow human beings, including our coworkers.
Will this kind of vigilance prevent service breakdowns? Not in all cases, but in many of them it will. But that’s not the point. The point is that, as disciples of Jesus Christ, we should all be dedicated to making the modern workplace a more humane environment for everyone concerned: our coworkers, our customers, and the larger population. What we do all day matters. It contributes (or fails to contribute) to the spread of compassion throughout the world. So even a minor piece of information about canceling a debit card can add to (or subtract from) the cause of Christ’s Kingdom here and now.