What is your workplace mentality?
Research has shown that people tend to assimilate to the characteristics of those they spend the most time with.
When this behavior is God-honoring, we continue to be transformed into Christ’s image. When this behavior is sinful, we find ourselves caught up in their sin.
One can observe this behavior in work environments, particularly with new hires, as over time they align their behavior with that of their colleagues. This change of behavior is often only observed by someone outside the workplace who interacts with a person infrequently over time.
Behavioral changes aren’t always so dramatic. Sometimes they are quite subtle.
The leader of one organization hired and rapidly promoted two young men to positions of influence. One of these young men began to wield more and more influence in the organization. He intelligently used the same language as the leader but with a subtly different meaning. Caring, astute clientele observed that this young man’s behavior was changing the ethos of the organization and how the leader led.
The temptation to adopt workplace behavioral norms
Society believes that following the cultural norms of a workplace is the best way to be accepted by your colleagues. A person new to an organization may choose to adopt the behavior of their colleagues believing that they have inside knowledge.
Others may choose behaviors close to the accepted ‘norm’ as they believe that the further their behavior is perceived to be from the accepted ‘norm’ that they are risking their career or social acceptance with their peers.
Being a Christian does not make us immune from becoming acclimatized to our workplace culture. Sometimes when we look at the behavior successful colleagues have adopted, we tend to stifle the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit so that we can fit in.
Slowly, without realizing what is happening, we suppress our awareness of God and sin insidiously sneaks into our lives. Just as each workplace is different, the sinful behavior that one picks up from our workplace is different for each person. Yet the end effect is the same—we abandon our first love for Christ.
The potential dangers of workplace culture
When we find ourselves accepting the ‘norm’ even though in our heart we are convinced that a particular idea or course of action is not in alignment with God’s word; or when we trust the people in our workplace for our protection, then we are saying that God is not capable of protecting us.
God saw how some living in the faith communities at the end of the first century had assimilated the culture of the cities where they lived and worked. In the letters John wrote to these churches in Revelation 2 and 3, God establishes that he is fully aware, and more than sufficient to meet every need in their current situation. He longs for their relationship with him to be restored.
Wise living in a workplace
As Christians, Jesus calls us to fully trust God with our lives where we live and work.
Jesus was comfortable hanging out with tax collectors, but he didn’t choose to follow their lifestyle. When Jesus’ disciples are jockeying with each other for the most important position, Jesus doesn’t join in the fray, but quietly speaks to them in a way that doesn’t alienate himself from them.
We all know that it can be risky navigating life in the workplace, and sometimes we feel more like outsiders. In the book of Esther, Mordecai prevented a plot against the King’s life, and graciously served the king, yet a jealous Haman wanted him and all the Jews dead. It was Mordecai’s wise counsel and strength that gave Queen Esther the courage to speak up for her people, and ultimately preserve not only his life, but the life of all the Jews.
Faith in God is the only thing that enables us to navigate life in the workplace. Our faith assures us that Christ alone is our source of safety and protection and that we don’t need the safety of the team to protect us from predators.
By faith, we understand that the pain and irritants that everyone experiences in life are part of the Fall. This faith also tells us that God is the source of all knowledge and wisdom and that the Bible is an unchanging anchor against which we can test the collective wisdom of the tribe where we work.
Faith tells us that we are God’s children and that God loves us and accepts us exactly as he created us to be.
Faith reassures that Jesus sees exactly what is happening in our workplace and is familiar with the temptations we face there. This same faith provides us with the assurance that when we examine our lives, God is waiting with open arms to forgive us when we repent.
Solomon in Proverbs reminds us that the prudent give thought to their steps and that the way of the Lord is a refuge for the blameless (Proverbs 10:29, 14:15). We need to regularly ask God to search us and see if there is any offensive ways in us and to lead us in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24).
Society is looking for men and women who are comfortable living and relating to all members of their workplace while being graciously unwavering in their convictions. To be this kind of person, we need to embrace the love and acceptance of Christ. We need to be comfortable in our own skin and not look for anything from our workplace, except to selflessly care for the well-being of every member.
Photo source: istock
James Bruyn is a bi-vocational visionary leader, writer and speaker who enjoys helping individuals integrate their faith in God with their daily life. James leads a ministry to Christians in the marketplace in Calgary, provides leadership coaching, and consults for the rail industry. James is passionate about connecting the rich promises of our loving Heavenly Father that we find in the Bible, with the joys and challenges of living out our faith in the workplace. James writes a weekly devotional at marketplace-ministry.ca/blog.
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