Developing collegial relationships with coworkers and excelling in our work requires us to build habits—regular practices that govern our everyday behavior and which influence our potential to meet our objectives.
We all already have workplace habits. Some of us walk into the office every morning with a cup of coffee in hand, fueled for the day. Some of us work more isolated, with our headphones on, while others keep a more open posture to interruptions. There’s also the regular, mid-morning break we take at the same time every day to say hello to colleagues down the hall.
Not all habits, of course, prove helpful. Mid-afternoon gossip sessions erode relational trust, as will complaining without seeking solutions.
In his book Habits, author and speaker Marcus Goodloe highlights three relational habits that will bring us more fulfillment in our work. The better coworkers we become, the sooner we can improve our work lives and relationships for the better.
I was eleven years old when I first decided to follow Jesus. One of the first changes I made after becoming a Christian was deciding to believe the best about people until proven otherwise. The toughest test for my resolution was the little third-grade neighbor boy who tormented me at the bus stop. I walked to the bus stop reminding myself to not expect him to annoy me. Maybe he would, but I would begin the day by giving him the benefit of the doubt. When we expect people to disappoint us or react negatively, we set them up for failure and ourselves for frustration. We’ve judged them based on their past, or on our assumptions, neither of which encourages a positive interaction in the present.
As the year progressed, he didn’t bother me as much. Was he the one who changed, or did I? Very possibly, my new attitude somehow communicated itself to him, and we both changed for the better. My husband, a public school administrator who constantly interacts with parents, teachers, and other school employees, calls it “positive presupposition.” When we enter an encounter at work assuming the best, we offer the other person an open mind, a measure of trust, and dignity. If we can put our biases behind us and interact with others from a clean slate, we honor them.
Will some people disappoint us? Of course. But we will know that we gave them a fair shake. And don’t we all appreciate it when others approach us with positive presupposition? When we get into the habit of assuming the best, our work relationships will become healthier and more effective.
One of the reasons we are to assume the best in others is that every person is made in the image of God. Everyone is sacred, or holy. The dignity inherent in each individual demands that we treat them with the respect and honor we all deserve.
Think about what makes you feel valued. Do you appreciate having people make eye contact with you when you are speaking with them? What does it do to you inside when you realize someone is actually listening as you share your concerns, ideas, or dreams? How do you feel when your supervisor asks about your family, remembers a significant day in your life, or assigns you a project that lines up with your passion? Small gestures carry a big weight because they tell us that we are seen and matter.
If you’ve ever played sports, you know the power of teamwork. Each player performs his or her role while depending on teammates to do theirs. Only together do they have a chance of winning. Even athletes in solitary sports like tennis or swimming will admit they cannot win without their coaches, trainers, family, and fellow athletes. We cannot succeed alone. Working in community is an exercise in humility, as we admit we lack certain abilities or talents. But that humility leads to thriving.
We think more creatively, more expansively, and more honestly when we are bouncing ideas off other people. We need each other for inspiration, support, and fine-tuning.
Let’s get in the habit of consulting others, encouraging colleagues, and creating a team that can rely on one another.
The essence of a workplace is the people, not the product. The better we treat one another, the more fulfilling we’ll find our work and the more excellent our work will become. When we assume the best, relate to each other with dignity, and actively seek to work in community, we will make our workplace a place to flourish.
To learn more habits that will improve your work experience and lead you to greater success, check out Marcus Goodloe’s new RightNow Media @ Work series, “Habits.”
It’s no overstatement to say that we are more distracted now than we’ve ever been. The “chaos machine” in our pockets constantly diverts our attention away from what matters, gluing our eyes to the things that don’t. And with our attention goes our focus.
Addressing this very topic, New York Times bestselling author and speaker Jon Acuff recently filmed a new series with our team entitled Focus: In a World of Bottomless Distractions and Endless Opportunities. We caught up with Jon to hear what he learned while preparing this series and his hope for those who go through it.
Jon: One thing I learned is how distracted we all are. I like to say that our distraction technology has outpaced our ability to focus. Think about how fast distraction has scaled. I mean, twenty years ago the only distraction I had on my phone was a game called snake. I don’t know if you’re my age, but it just was a line that went “doot, doot, doot, doot, doot.” Now, you have every movie ever made, every book ever written, and every podcast ever recorded in your pocket. You have a chaos machine in your pocket. So, it was really interesting to learn—that’s part of why it’s challenging. You shouldn’t feel bad that it’s hard to focus; the odds are stacked against you because of our technology. But there are some really simple things you can do, and that’s what was so fun about filming this series.
Jon: I want viewers to walk away with the idea that you can learn how to focus. It’s not a personality trait. It’s not something that some people are good at and others are bad. When you talk to people about, “Is it easy for you to focus?” or “Do you ever get distracted?” sometimes they make identity statements. They say, “I’m a really distracted person. I can never focus,” as if they can’t learn. But the one thing I want you to walk away with is you can learn, and there’s some very practical things you can do that are actually really fun. And you get to see pretty quick progress. So I want you to walk away with the idea that you can do it and that there’s things you can do.
Jon: My most memorable moment of any series—we’ve done because we’ve done three together (so, I know I’m talking about Focus, but we’ve done Soundtracks and Finish)—my most memorable moment was where I got to the shoot and there was a cliff. They had set up the shoot on the edge of a cliff that was three-hundred feet high, overlooking a river, and there was a rock that was, in my opinion, very close to the edge of the cliff. And they said, “Hey, we just want you to stand on this rock, it’ll be an amazing shot.” And I said, “What’s your second idea?” Because I talk with my hands, I move around a lot, I’m very animated. So, I said, “There’s no way I’m getting on that rock.” So, if you watch that video, I’m perched on the rock. I’m sitting on the rock, that was our compromise, but I’m kind of looking over my shoulder. That was the most memorable. The second was, we filmed in Nissan Titan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee, where I live. And it was an amazing shot, and they had a drone, and it was just gorgeous. So, I love partnering with RightNow because they always do such beautifully well-thought-out work.
It’s easy to say we agree with the previous statement, but it’s harder to believe it. Many Christians start their workday and wonder if typing on a computer for the entire day is worth the trouble. Teachers struggle to see the value of the work they put into lesson plans, especially when their students do not listen. CEOs of Fortune 500 companies wonder if all the long hours in the office will fulfill their hopes and dreams. In every job sector, people love God but often do not know if God cares about their work.
Work can be challenging and stressful, but it does not have to feel meaningless. Since God cares about our work, we must look to him to understand why our work matters.
The first few pages of Scripture contain God’s perspective on creating the universe. One of the main topics that the first three chapters of Genesis address is work. In fact, over 60% of the verses in Genesis 1–3 say something about work. God labored for six days and then rested on the seventh. When God created humans, the first thing he told them to do was work (Genesis 1:26; 2:15).
Work has always been essential to God’s plan for the world and his people.
God also said all he created was good, which includes humanity and their work. But since the tragic introduction of sin into the world, recorded in Genesis 3, humanity has doubted the goodness of work.
Our labor had dignity before being distorted. So today, we need to see our work as a reflection of God’s goodness—the way God saw it in the beginning. We should not dread our nine to five or see it as a part of the Genesis 3 curse. When we do our jobs, we fulfill a part of our God-given purpose to create, cultivate, and care for the earth. God sees both the garbage truck driver and the astrophysicist and says their work is good.
Many may not know what a J bolt is, but there is a J bolt helping to secure the foundation of buildings all over the world. J bolts are small J-shaped pieces of metal used to secure concrete foundations and provide an anchor for building structures. They look small and insignificant, but they serve people in a major way every day.
Work is one of the J bolts of society. The jobs we do play an essential role in supporting and contributing to the economic and social foundations of our lives. Our work, like a J bolt, impacts people, even when our jobs might look or feel insignificant.
We can also see examples of how work serves people in the Bible. In Exodus 31:1–11, God chose people with specific skills to work with wood, metals, and cloth to provide the necessary tools for Israel’s daily worship. Because of their craftsmanship, God was glorified and God’s people had a place to worship God for generations.
The work we do plays a role in serving our world. Without it, many people would have unmet needs and miss out on the ways our job benefits society. We need godly businesspeople to ensure business transactions involve fairness and equality. We need plumbers to handle our sanitation issues before they become public health concerns. We need metalworkers to make J bolts so our buildings can stand firm. No matter what we do, our work matters because it serves others.
Christians can be tempted to think a vocation is only spiritual if it’s a ministry job. But being a pastor is not the only job that can impact the kingdom. The Great Commission from Matthew 28 tells us that God calls his people to go all over the world to share the good news of Jesus Christ. But if the church has any chance of reaching the world, pastors cannot be the only people who use their vocation as a platform for the gospel.
What better opportunity is there than going to work every day to share the Christian life with many who do not know Jesus? Colossians 4:3 encourages Christians to pray for “open doors” to spread the name of Christ. God can use us in our jobs to build his kingdom, whether we are a professional football player or a high school janitor.
When we look to God for why our work matters, we can see that our jobs have a God-given purpose. God created work and it is good. Our vocation can serve people and grow the kingdom of God. We can therefore approach our nine to five knowing that God cares about what we do and sees our work as significant—to him, his people, and the world.
Are you a business leader looking to invest in a personal care resource for your employees that can help them flourish in every area of life? RightNow Media @ Work, a library of on-demand video resources has a library of over 20,000 videos on topics from leadership and personal development to parenting and finances. Schedule a free demo today!