At Work & Theology 101

Has Love Failed in the Workplace?

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Love at work – is that allowed? This question launched this blog discussion three months ago. Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of talking with a lot of people about the idea of love at work.

For the most part, love at work is not something most of us have thought much about. But when we stop to think about it, we feel the workplace lacks love.

For some, the workplace has become cold, sterile, and sometimes even hostile. For others, the workplace is filled with interpersonal stresses and strained relationships. For most of us, love at work is best described as superficial and cordial, not rich and genuine as it’s described in I Corinthians 13.

How has this happened?

Has Loved Failed in the Workplace?

We’ve looked at the Apostle Paul’s description of love in I Corinthians 13. He tells us that love is patient and kind. It does not envy or boast. Love is not rude or arrogant and does not demand its own way.

In the context of the modern work-world, these marks of love do not seem like a path to success. In fact, on the surface, they seem like a path to failure.

If I am patient, will anything ever get done around here?

If I am kind, won’t my employees walk all over me?

If I don’t demand my own way, won’t I lose control and not get what I want?

In I Corinthians 13:8, the Apostle Paul tells us love never fails. If there is a lack of love in the workplace, it is not because love has failed. It is because we have failed to love.

The Appearance of Failure

We don’t like to fail. We don’t want to be seen as failures. We also find it difficult to trust that God is working out a plan for our eternal good.

In our pursuit of our own plans and selfish (not shared) success, we focus on ourselves rather than our colleagues. And, in focusing on ourselves, we fail to love and serve them.

As usual, Jesus has much to teach us about love, service, success and the appearance of failure.

In his last hours of life, Jesus appeared to be a failure.

As he hung on the cross, the hope of a new kingdom and the end of the Roman occupation seemed lost. The promise of a new era of truth, love, and peace seemed ridiculous, if not dangerous.

Seeking not only to kill Jesus, but also to stifle his message, the people cried “Crucify him!” Jesus was dealt the most debasing, humiliating death society could muster at the time.

To everyone watching that scene, Jesus looked like a spectacular failure. Of course, we know that Jesus did not fail at all. What appeared to be a monumental failure was actually a spectacular success!

Love is often like that.

Love – An Act of Worship at Work

Jesus was humiliated for his people. He was spat upon for us. He was beaten and killed – for us. He did things for us that we could never do for ourselves.

We owe him an eternity of love and worship. He tells us,

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. – Matthew 22:37-40

Jesus tells us that we serve him when we serve others (Matthew 25:31-40). When we love our workmates with a genuine, self-sacrificing love (Romans 12), we bring honor to the One who first loved us.

We can do this. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can transform the workplace because love never fails.

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