This post is part of our Sunday Series titled “Articles of Faith.”
We investigate leadership lessons from the Bible.
See the whole series here. Published only on Sundays.
Hard to believe that it is September once again and that tomorrow we mark the unofficial end of summer in the Northern Hemisphere.
Tomorrow, of course, is what we call Labor Day in the United States. Ironically, on a day that celebrates work and labor, most of us enjoy a day off around BBQ grills and swimming pools. Labor Day, however, is also a great reminder of what makes our world so great — the dedicated, selfless, hard work of millions of men and women day in and day out to their jobs.
Most of these workers are readily engaged in their work and see it as meaningful and fulfilling. However, many are not. They are marginally engaged or perhaps disengaged altogether and simply seeking a paycheck.
So, what does Scripture teach us about the meaning of work and how we, as leaders, can help others to find meaning and fulfillment that will last beyond a lifetime?
First Things First
First, we must acknowledge that God expects and rewards the work of man’s hands. Many of the wise sayings of King Solomon found in Proverbs speak of the honor of hard work or the profound consequences of the absence of work.
Proverbs 12:11 tells us this:
“He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment.”
Proverb 13:4 reminds us that:
“The lazy man craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied.”
So, we clearly establish that work is honorable before the Lord and He indeed rewards our faithfulness in our work. Part of our task as leaders is to challenge those we lead to find an eternal value in their work and to understand that in working hard, we fulfill our God-given call on our lives and bring Him glory.
“. . . or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God” I Corinthians 10:31
Secondly, we as leaders are charged with helping people to find their greatest fulfillment within the body, whether that be the body of Christ or the organization we lead.
Nearly ten years ago now, Jim Collins first published his bestseller, Good to Great.
In this groundbreaking work, he talks about not only getting the right people on the bus but also getting the right people on the right seat on the bus. While the book itself was new and innovative, the concept of the right seat is certainly not new.
The apostle Paul addressed this centuries before in his letter to the Corinthian church. In his lengthy discussion in chapter 12, he calls on the early church to recognize the unique place each member of the group held for the mission of the larger body.
He lays down the foundation for accomplishment, efficiency, and personal fulfillment.
Paul establishes that when each one does his or her own part, the organization (in this case, the church) will achieve exceedingly more than we ever could individually.
Again, what is my role as a leader? In this context, our role becomes guiding people to find the right seat for them that will fulfill their unique call to labor for God. How do we best do this? While not specifically Christian in value, here are some guiding principles to consider:
One other principle that jumps out of Paul’s writing in I Corinthians is the idea that we, as leaders, must show value to each position and person.
While we are probably most familiar with verses 27-30 of Chapter 12, we often overlook the principles found in the preceding verses. There, Paul admonishes us to give GREATER honor to those positions we see as less important. If we want to be maximum impact leaders, we demonstrate that by giving high honor, praise, and recognition to those who labor hard day after day with humility and faithfulness.
Finally, the buzz in today’s leadership circles is all about employee engagement. Gallup, Inc. is estimating that employee disengagement is costing the U.S. economy more than $300 billions in lost productivity.
While there are obviously many factors involved, I just wonder how much of this could be saved if we adopted the biblical model of work.
A model that calls for hard work based on an eternal value, the unique design of each employee, and the recognized value of each person within our organizations.
So what is your point of view of those who labor under your authority? Do you honor and praise them and give them recognition when appropriate? Do you also hold them accountable to the larger goals and objectives? Are you the kind of boss that looks to keep your team running smoothly by putting the right people in the right places for the maximum benefit of the group? I would love to hear your thoughts!