The CEO of a large, financial services company announced his early resignation without fanfare or explanation. He would retire three years earlier than he had previously committed. Reactions were mixed. During his tenure, he had strengthened the financial position of the company and led it to be recognized as a leader in customer satisfaction. But, he had also alienated many long-time employees.
Some were shocked and dismayed by the announcement of his retirement. Others—including some who profess to follow Christ—openly cheered the news of the CEO's departure. These people seemed almost gleeful. As I watched the varied displays and listened to the comments, particularly of those Christ-followers, something gnawed at me.
I thought, "There must be a better response for Christians to model to our co-workers than this."
In Paul's letter to the Christians at Philippi, he wrote, "Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse." (Phil. 4.8 , The Message)
We will often find ourselves working under the leadership of people whose integrity we question and whose decisions we disapprove of. Regardless of what we may feel personally, we are called to focus on what is noble, what is best, what is beautiful and praiseworthy. Paul's challenge still applies to each of us when we walk through the doors of our workplace.
Elsewhere in the New Testament, Peter calls his readers to show proper respect to everyone. He tells the early Christians to "honor the king." Peter was referring to one of the Roman emperors, and none of them were particularly strong candidates for "man of the year." Still, Peter beckons his audience to honor this leader.
We too can honor our leaders. We too can refuse to scorn them—even when we may question their integrity. Instead, we maintain our focus on "things to praise, not things to curse." We exhibit the grace and compassion that has been showered on us. When we do, we become powerful ambassadors of faith in our workplace.
Let's get practical about how to do this. Think about the way we speak of the leadership in our places of work. How do we react and respond to those who have been placed at the helms of commerce? Our actions and words will resonate more deeply and effectively than any stand we might pretend to take. Of course, this challenge extends far beyond the workplace, for leaders are in place at all levels of society.
But we can change the way we act at work right now. Those are the leaders we meet everyday.
What would the work week look like if we all committed ourselves to the best, not the worst? Think about it. This week, don't utter a single negative comment about the leadership where you work. Can you do it? Choose to focus only on what your leaders are doing right . . . even if it is only one thing.
Wouldn't that make the office a great place to be?