At Work & Theology 101

How Much Time Should I Spend Developing Relationships at Work?

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I have an important question to ask. I am sure I will receive a variety of responses.

When building relationships among our team members at work, how much time is too much?

This is a critical issue in every organization, unless, of course, you run your own company by yourself. Here is the dilemma. Which is more important: the accomplishment of the mission or taking care of people? If we focus on just the mission, we might get our projects done on time and under budget, but at what cost to the team? If we focus exclusively on our people, will we be able to meet the quotas, requirements, and deadlines of bosses, shareholders, and customers? 

It’s somewhat obvious, isn’t it? Don’t we have to take care of both the mission and our team simultaneously, without sacrificing either one? If we lose our people, we can’t do the mission. If we have well-cared-for and deeply connected people, why have them if the mission isn’t done?

This subject is extremely important to me. I have been told by more than one supervisor that I spend far too much time building relationships through informal mentoring and basic care and concern for the members of my shop. To some, it may appear I am just joking around or wasting time. To the contrary, every dad joke, every story from way back when, and every personal question that I ask to show an interest in my coworkers has a clear purpose. Among many other things, it actually allows us to accomplish the mission because we have become a great team

So, in an honest attempt to justify how I have come to do business with my small operations team over the past 14 years, let me dive into the Word to see if I need to adjust.

What did Jesus do to build relationships?

I think it is safe to say that Jesus was in the relationship-building business. He had a small group of twelve devoted disciples and a larger group of maybe seventy followers that supported him in various ways. He knew that he had only three years to take this ragtag band of brothers and turn them into apostles to lead his church and spread his gospel to the uttermost parts of the world.

Jesus also was fully engaged in “divine appointments” throughout his day. Whether it was a child in need of resurrection, a tax collector in a tree who needed forgiveness and purpose, or a broken woman in need of a Savior, Jesus stopped what he was doing to meet these great needs.

Even in Jesus’ profession as a teacher or healer, he always seemed to be focused on the recipient of whatever it was that the individual or group truly needed. No, Jesus never had to worry about a commission or production schedule, but he focused on meeting the needs of people, especially the least, the lost, and the last, every step of the way in the work that his Father called him to do.

What did Paul do to grow leaders?

Paul was a driven leader. He had a calling from Jesus Himself to take the gospel to the Gentile world. He had places to go, people to see, and things to do. Unlike Naomi in the Old Testament, he may have been considered by some to be ruthless. When it was time to go on a mission trip and one of his teammates was not on the same page, Paul cut him from the team (Acts 15:36-41).

On the opposite end of the spectrum, when it came to building leaders in the churches that were established as a direct or indirect result of his evangelistic ministry, Paul was like no other. Here is what he said in his epistles, regarding his virtual customers that were under his mentorship. 

Paul described his parental approach, “Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well” (1 Thess. 2:7-8). He continued, “For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory” (1 Thess. 2:10-11).

In my next article, we will discuss how to apply these lessons from Jesus and Paul to our own work relationships.

Editor’s Note: This article was adapted with permission from the author’s website. Find the original article here.

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