At Work & Economics 101 & Theology 101

How Do You Love Your Neighbor At Work?

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In a previous post, we explored how the things we do at work are part of the good works that God has prepared for us (Ephesians 2:10; 6:8). Just as with everything else, the chief motive behind our work is to serve others in love (1 Corinthians 16:14).

But what does it mean to love your neighbor at work? At first, this can sound overly-sentimental and strange.

Love at work is anything but strange. The essence of love is to have true good will toward the other person. A loving attitude toward another person is to want and to seek his or her benefit.

One of the things it means to love others at work is to have the best interest of those you work with at heart. If you are a teacher, seek the good of your students. If you are a manager, seek the good of your employees. If you are a consultant, seek the good of your clients.

Love expresses itself in action. We should look to apply it in the specific context in which we find ourselves. In our jobs, there are three particular things that we can do to love our neighbor. These are especially suited to the nature of the workplace, where we need to care about making sure we serve others in a way that also brings value to our organizations. This is the point of business, after all.

As Tim Sanders lays out in his excellent book, Love is the Killer App, the three ways to show love in the workplace are to always be on the lookout to:

1. Share your knowledge.

2. Share your network.

3. Share your compassion.

In other words, as Sanders summarizes: “Offer your wisdom freely. Give away your address book to everyone who wants it. And always be human.”

Share Your Knowledge

God intends for learning to be a lifelong pursuit. We are to continually be growing in our knowledge of him, the world, and our jobs.

As you grow in the knowledge of your industry and job, be on the lookout to share the things that you’ve learned with others. Many people have passion and great intentions but are stuck because of something they simply don’t know. When you see a need like that, take action. Share what you know so that the person can apply it to his or her own situation. Become like a walking encyclopedia who is able to provide insight at a moment’s notice when needed.

Share Your Network

Networking is a key component to effectiveness in most jobs today. Our jobs are not just about dialing in to get solo tasks done, but about working with people. We need to develop relationships throughout our organizations and across our industries.

The key to building an effective network is, interestingly, generosity. This means that the networking jerk who is just out for what he can get from others is going to get nowhere.

True networking is about finding ways you can give. And one of the best things you can give to another person might be an introduction to someone they might especially benefit from meeting. Since the world of work is about working with people, we need to be on the lookout to share not just our knowledge, but also the other people we know.

Share Your Compassion

I once met a human resources professional who I think was trained never to smile. She came across as very professional…and also highly unlikable.

The notion that we somehow build value in the world of work by creating distance between ourselves and others—as though it somehow showcases your “professionalism” and “greatness,”— is completely backward. Business is human, so be human at work. Show interest, concern, warmth, care, and love to those whom you interact with at work.

The Best Way to be Productive

The interesting thing about these three things—sharing your knowledge, networking, and showing compassion to everyone that you can—is that by doing so you aren’t simply serving and building up other people. You are also taking the path to greatest effectiveness and productivity.

This is because the chief principle behind these three things is simply this: generosity. Generosity builds trust, and trust is at the heart of any effective organization and workplace. Lots of thinkers have shown this from the evidence of common grace. But they are simply discovering what we have already learned from the Scriptures. As Proverbs 11:25 says, “Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.”

Our work will not be without suffering. It will have its ups and downs. But the Scriptures do not rope our work lives off from our faith. We often separate the two, as though love and generosity apply only in our personal lives, while the “me-first” mentality applies at work.

Instead, generosity—that is, love—is the biblical ethic for our personal and work lives. Some of the best ways to be generous at work are to always be on the lookout to share what you know, connect people with who you know, and always be human.

How do you love others at your workplace? Leave your comments here.

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