Blog - Embodying Truth

Cultivating a "Seeking Eye" in the Workplace

Monday, January 11, 2010

In my Dec. 31 blog, I wrote that all Christians need to be “eyes and ears, priests and pray-ers, salt and light” on the job. Jeff Morgan responded by noting how this points up our need for awareness: “I see tasks not people,” he wrote. “But once given pause, I see the missed opportunity to connect. How do I orient myself daily to have such a seeking eye?”

Jeff clearly wants to live out Galatians 6:10—“As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people….” But how can we incorporate recognizing opportunities and doing good for others into the pressurized context of the work world?

It seems to me this calls for learning another way to multitask. We've learned to do that in other areas—carrying on a conversation while driving, listening to an audio book while working out on the elliptical at the gym, and so on. So with ministry on the job. With the enabling of God's Spirit, we practice doing our work wholeheartedly while simultaneously staying alert to the needs of the people with whom we interact while we do it. Those needs come in a multitude of shapes and sizes. Health issues. Misunderstandings. Financial crises. And so on.

For example, suppose my assistant is summarizing for me the week's phone complaints from customers. During that conversation, as another office employee walks by, I see a look of contempt flash across the assistant's face. I continue my focus on his summary of complaints, but at the same time I make a mental sticky note of what I've just observed—possible evidence a broken staff relationship. The apparent need? Reconciliation. Will I deal with the relational issue right then? Probably not. But I can begin praying for more understanding and for an opportunity (on coffee break, lunch hour, or some other appropriate time) to do good by helping to heal any rift.

When I was in junior high school, I began playing the trumpet. A bit later, I started piano lessons. The trumpet allowed me to concentrate on just one note at a time. But the piano demanded that I learn how to deal with several notes at once. In that respect, workplace ministry is like playing the piano. Both, of course, take conscious intention much practice.

From your own experience in the workplace, what can you add in answering Jeff's question, “How do I orient myself daily to have such a seeking eye?”

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