Friday, December 23, 2011

This Time of Year

As you've noticed, I have not been as consistent in the last month or so. As my university duties and our new baby have demanded more and more attention, it's been tougher to find time to write. I've posted before about the integrity of focusing on work tasks while you're at work, and so I've been trying to write a week's worth of posts every Tuesday evening. There have been a few weeks where that didn't work out.

Part of the issue is the tension between writing something and writing something worth reading. My original goal was to use this blog as a place to keep notes on how the Bible talks about work. I finished that task months ago. Since then, I've been writing more reflections on passages as they relate to the work context. But when Tuesday evenings roll around, it's easy to wonder "what am I going to write about now?"

With the holidays, I'm taking next week off. I plan to be back on January 4th with more posts. And as Wednesday's post shows, if you have ideas, feel free to send them to me. I'll see you in 2012.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Addressing Ageism

Someone sent this to me based on an issue in her workplace. I've posted on discrimination and favoritism. I think we are called as Christians to make sure we are not guilty of ageism, racism, sexism, or any other -ism.

As baby boomers age and remain longer in the workforce we see the phenomenon, and often the tension, of younger and older professionals struggling to work well together. Young professionals bring new energy and ideas, new trends, technological skills, and represent what many fear….change. Often young professionals go so far as to idolize their own attributes while seeing (and perhaps treating) their “seasoned” professional counterparts as “aged,” out of style, and old news.

On the flip side, young professionals are often pre-judged by senior-level employees as immature, inexperienced, naive, and altogether unworthy of opportunities to express opinions, participate in “senior” meetings, or to find a “seat at the table” (except maybe the children’s table). Both attitudes represent generalized and unfair assessments.

Young professionals are encouraged to not “let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).

In his book On Being a Servant of God, Warren Wiersbe shares some valuable tips on the phenomena of older and younger people working together:

1. Never take down a fence until you know why it was put up.
2. If you get too far ahead of the army, your soldiers may mistake you for the enemy.
3. Don’t complain about the bottom rungs of the ladder; they helped you get higher.
4. If you want to enjoy the rainbow, be prepared to endure the storm.

The apostle Peter challenges the young and old to work together in humility. “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility” (1 Peter 5:5, NKJV). Paul encourages the older woman to mentor the younger woman in godliness and for older men to encourage young men and in to set them an example by doing what is good (Titus 2:3-5). He goes on to say “in your teaching show integrity, seriousness, and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.” (Titus 2:7-8). What a noble and God-inspired calling for us to live out in our workplaces as intergenerational employees learn to grow together in mutual respect.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Mercy Triumphs Over Judgment

Mercy in the workplace is not a commonly considered approach. Think about common cliches. "Dog eat dog world." "Rat race." "It's a jungle out there." Those sayings don't make me think about mercy.

But look at James 2:12-13: "Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment."

How can you show mercy to people this week? You may be perfectly in your rights to judge. But that's where this passage is particularly relevant.

This is finals week for me, so perhaps it's appropriate that I should blog about mercy. There's a lot of talk about grade inflation and holding rigorous standards. And I agree with the idea that an A should mean something, should be a reward for hard work. But I also know that I have to balance that rigor with mercy. And it's a line that I'm still trying to find--how to show grace without being a push-over.

How does mercy affect you and how you do your job?

Friday, December 9, 2011

But I'm Right

This post is directed as much at myself as it is written for anyone reading it. Does it drive you crazy when you know you're right about something but no one listens to you? You feel the need to prove that you are right (and that the other person is wrong).

Oswalt Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest writes when we "allow the discernment to turn to criticism, we block God. God never gives us discernment in order that we may criticize, but that we may intercede." (p. 328). Think about that. Suppose that you are right and the other person is wrong (which is a biased assumption, don't forget). Does that give you the right to criticize the other person for not agreeing with you? No.

I've blogged before about how fighting for your rights is rarely in God's interests. Fighting to make someone believe that you're right is also rarely a good idea. If the issue is important, intercede for that person. If it issue is unimportant, let it go.

Again, this post is something that I need help with as much as anyone else. It's tough when you have strong opinions. But not turning your opinions into criticism of the other person is a great way to show God's love to them.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Slow Creep of Questionable Decisions

I've posted before about how small ethical lapses lead to larger ones, but I was recently reminded of a story that really drives this point home. When Abraham settled in the land God had promised him, his flocks and Lot's flocks had gotten so big that they had to separate. Even though Abraham had the right to choose first as the family elder, he let Lot decide where to live (and Abraham took what was left over). We all know the story of how evil Sodom and Gomorrah were and how God saved Lot as He destroyed the area.

Here's the fresh perspective that I have on this story. Lot was in Sodom because of a business decision. It was a little decision to choose the land that looked good rather than trust God and seek out righteous people to surround you. And from Genesis 19:1, we know that Lot must have continued to make those small decisions because he was a leader of the city by the time the angels came to rescue him--he wouldn't have been recognized as a leader if he wasn't integrated into the city.

In discussing this story, a friend mentioned the idea of a "slow creep" of decisions that led to Lot being in a position of needing to be rescued. Lot made a bad decision, one that seemed right by the world's standards but that was made with God in mind. That decision led to other decisions, all of which led to other decisions.

For all of us, complacency is our default. It doesn't require effort. Making small decisions that are fine by the world's standards but might be questionable to God is easy. But those are the same decisions that lead us in a slow creep away from God. Think about the positions that you are in, the decisions that you make at work. Where is the slow creep in those positions, the complacency in your decision making? How can you reverse course and focus on God?