THE COLUMNS – DECEMBER

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This time of year we focus on how God expressed his love by sending his Son into the world. That world includes the marketplace to which we have been sent as Christ’s ambassadors. So, what does genuine Christian love look like at work? Tim Sanders, former Chief Solutions Officer at Yahoo, tells the story of Chris in Love Is The Killer App. Chris was a new officer called to the roundtable to hear another consultant’s presentation. Chris sat stony-faced, then ripped him up one side and down the other. The consultant was taken aback, and Tim was embarrassed. They tried to bring Chris in a couple other times, but Chris continued with his aggressive, rude, and demeaning approach. No one wanted to work with him, and tried to avoid him. Chris acquired the nickname “Mad Dog.” One day Chris went to Tim and told him he realized he needed to change. Tim taught Mad Dog how to become a Love Cat by offering his wisdom freely, sharing his network, and reaching out with compassion.

We can love people by offering our wisdom freely. In our working world we often use our knowledge and wisdom as a competitive edge. We hold back our full input so that we still hold some chips. That is a mentality of scarcity. When you are on the same team – your company – you succeed together. When you share your wisdom, others benefit, but you do too. It builds trust, which fosters an open environment for the free exchange of information. When knowledge is shared, everyone is smarter and can put together the information in new and profitable ways. A pastor from a nearby church is usually considered the competition. However, a nearby pastor and I meet regularly to read books, sharpen our leadership skills, and troubleshoot problems in our churches had. Whenever one of us came back from a conference, we would teach the other one what we had learned. By teaching it we internalized the material which helped us put it into practice in our own churches. It also helped the person who had not attended the conference. When we share our wisdom everyone wins!

We can love people by sharing our network of friends. Jesus grew his inner circle from 3 to 12 to 72 to 120. Jesus was constantly drawing people together, empowering them and sending them out together. I have a mentor who planted and renewed churches. He had worked with a young man on a church renewal. My mentor thought the young man and I would mutually benefit from knowing one another, so he invited Mary Kay and me to his house for dinner to meet with the young man and his wife. My mentor received nothing out of doing that except the sheer joy of seeing a lasting relationship form. When you know two people who would hit it off, or who could help one another, the loving thing to do is arrange the divine appointment. When we connect our friends freely, everyone wins.

We can love people by reaching out with compassion. Ken Blanchard gets to the heart of grace-filled compassion. “Grace is at work in relationships when we are present for one another, accepting our mutual limitations and willing to exchange mutual efforts to enhance one another’s well-being. It is only in intimacy that grace abounds.” Every office has its own time schedules and boundaries. However, compassion can be expressed many ways. It is easy to see in the eyes and posture of our colleagues if they had a rough weekend and are facing problems at home. We also see blowups at work which can become deep hurts, resentments, and simmering anger. Touching base with them at break or lunch can mean the world to them. To know that someone sees this pain and genuinely cares can mean everything. Feeling alone in the world is a terrible burden. When we reach out with compassion we give hope and courage. It is not that hard to take a moment to truly listen to someone’s concern then ask, ‘Can I pray with you about that?’ When two or three are gathered in prayer the power of God works in amazing ways.

During the month of December, I challenge you to be love incarnate to those around you at work to fulfill Jesus’ command, “Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:12) Perhaps you can put Tim Sander’s beatitude in your desk drawer: ‘Happiest are the lovecats who are most generous with their knowledge, their networks, and their compassion.’