This is the final part in a six-part series that will look at Kara Martin's book, 'Workship: How to use your work to worship God.' Kara Martin is the keynote speaker at EdComm's annual Integral Project Dinner on October 25.
‘Faith becomes deeply woven into the person you are at work, expressing itself in your thoughts, words, and activities, shining from the core of your identity’ (Martin, 2017, p.157).
There are many ways to build relationships in a workplace while contributing to the culture and climate. Mark Green from the London Institute of Contemporary Christianity has developed six M’s for how to integrate faith and work and Martin has turned these into the following questions.
How might you:
- Model Godly character? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Which do you struggle with?
- Make good work? Work that serves others, contributes to human flourishing and stewards creation.
- Minister grace and love? Practical care and kindness; responding to others in difficult situations.
- Mould culture? What things bother you? What are the values that underpin them? What could be done differently that would make it a better place for people to flourish?
- Be a mouthpiece for truth and justice? Speaking up against things that are unfair, unhealthy or untruthful and speaking up for things that are just and good? It takes courage, wisdom and prayer.
- Be a messenger of the gospel? Ask God who you should be praying for – don’t be driven by false guilt. Rest in God, trust His timing, build trust and relationships, care for people and share what Jesus has done in your life and what He offers everyone (Martin, 2017).
Martin suggests that Christians can also contribute to workplace culture by introducing hospitality and beauty into the workplace. Hospitality is the generous welcoming of guests or strangers. Hospitality at work is about building a safe and friendly place to build relationships and do work (Martin, 2018, p.4). God Himself provides specific commands to the Israelites to welcome the stranger and provide for them - ’and you are to love foreigners’ (Deuteronomy 10:18-19). In offering hospitality, we are bearing witness to the character of God (Romans 12:13) (Martin, 2018). This can be as simple as introducing the new person around, saying good morning and goodbye to everyone, keeping your office door open and inviting passers-by in, sharing food or going out for coffee. Henri Nouwen says the potential of ‘hospitality is not to change people but to offer them space where change can take place’ (Nouwen in Martin, 2018, p.7).
Introducing beauty in some form into the workplace is another way to give others a foretaste of what God’s kingdom will be like in all its fullness and glory (Martin, 2018, p.25). Bringing plants, pictures, creativity and fun and celebration, or stopping to express an appreciation of nature, can all introduce a shared sense of positivity and refresh a workplace culture. Consider how you can build a community of shared appreciation and a desire to excel.
Our need for relationship and community, for knowing others, and being known, is the way we were created. Reaching out to others in friendship, wanting to know them and being willing to be known in the workplace not only serves those around us, but fulfills a need in us. Martin offers some strategic ways we can work positively to enhance relationships in the work space:
- in strategic planning, we can create structures that enhance the ability of people to relate to each other
- in decision-making, we should consider the consequences of our decisions on people’s relationships
- in organising our work or team, we should be conscious of bringing order and helping people to flourish with their gifts and skills
- in evaluating our work or project, we should take it as an opportunity to learn how relationships were inhibited, and to take steps towards empowering healthy relations
- in communicating, we should consider the best way of getting the message across so that there is transparency, understanding and trust; and so that people can work together effectively
- in meetings, we need to remember to consider relational outcomes and not just the task outcomes.
Working in any position of leadership gives further opportunities to influence the welfare of colleagues and to build a positive workplace culture based in Biblical values. Leadership requires fellowship, and followers need to have confidence in the competency of their leaders, and in the care the leader has for the team. When this dynamic is working well there is incredible opportunity for effective working and personal growth.
‘What we do and how we do it is noticed by and communicated to onlookers and our followers. There needs to be consistency between our words and our actions’ (Martin, 2018, p.12-13).
Jesus set a high standard for leadership. He:
- was humble in a Greco-Roman culture that valued receiving honour and boasting of one’s achievements, and He taught humility - ‘the greatest among you will be your servant’ (Matthew 23:11-12);
- served others – He knew He had come to serve (Mark 10:45) and demonstrated this by washing His disciples’ feet. ‘Now that I your teacher have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you’ (John 13:1-17) (Martin, 2018).
We can gain further insight into how Jesus modelled leadership by looking at the way He related to His disciples. Martin outlines the characteristics that Jesus displayed. He:
- was available
- was personal - He related to and taught individuals
- engaged in dialogue with His disciples, challenging them to think through issues
- listened and affirmed what was good and corrected what was wrong
- applied Biblical wisdom
- identified obstacles
- prayed often
- cared for His own soul (Martin, 2018).
The challenge - there is much work to do! Share your journey with others as you serve Jesus at work. Find the opportunities to introduce hospitality or beauty, mould the culture, speak for truth and justice, set the standard for relationships in teams, meetings & planning, and love and serve your fellow workers.
Martin, K. (2017). Workship: How To Use Your Work To Worship God. Singapore: Graceworks Private Limited.
Martin, K. (2018). Workship 2: How to Flourish at Work. Singapore: Graceworks Private Limited.
Disclaimer: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of EdComm or the Anglican Diocese of Sydney. The intent is to promote thinking and discussion.