Let’s talk about dealing with managers in this post as a Christian in the workplace. For the most part, I’ve been fortunate to have good managers in the workplace. Hands down the best one I ever had was a lady named Deborah. I worked with her years ago when my now 30-something old son was about seven or eight years old. What made her a great manager? Well, first of all, she believed in me. She genuinely did. I’m not sure why because her controversial predecessor hired me. As you know, new managers often “clean house” and like to build their own teams. But she kept me on. At the time, I didn’t have an undergraduate degree and while I was intelligent, I didn’t feel smart enough to earn one. Another thing is she was an atheist. I was an outspoken Christian. Wild, right? You know, as a Christian in the workplace, God’s favor is a powerful thing. It can keep you in places you don’t “belong” and make people bless you even when they, themselves, don’t understand why.
It helps to know your strengths as a Christian in the workplace.
Want to know what I bought to the “table” back in those days? It’s simple.
I could think. Logical and cognition come easily to me. As does creativity. I’m able to create solutions to a problem when others aren’t able to do so. That’s a blessing and a gift from the Lord. Maybe that is why she allowed me to remain on her team.
Despite this gift, my confidence level was in the pooper. God used Deborah to help me cultivate it.
Why did I have such a low-self image?
Do you have a low image of yourself? Do you put limitations on yourself and your abilities? I did and if I’m honest, from time to time I still do.
I think mine stemmed from low expectations and the fact that I was a spoiled brat most of my life. I was the youngest child and the only girl in my family. They gave me everything but one thing …the idea I could go to college.
My mom seemed to be more impressed with how I presented to the world than my academics or intellect. As long as I looked good, and carried myself well – that was all she seemed to care about.
People in our family didn’t have careers, they had jobs. Sure, they did have good jobs with major companies, but not really a career track as we know now. People of color in my youth likely faced unsurmountable discrimination and that’s likely why. Either way, she just wanted me to get one with a pension and be a good person.
Conversations about college were not something anyone ever talked to me about. I only had one cousin who had earned a degree and it never really seemed like something I could accomplish.
Tears are in my eyes as I type this. My upbringing was good and my parents were great people, but I wish they would have asked more of me.
God can use someone who isn’t a Christian to help you see possibilities.
Well, when I met Deborah, I was exposed to a smart, pretty woman who ran one of the most popular, cutting-edge nonprofit organizations in our city.
She somehow saw something in me and regularly pushed me to do things I didn’t think I could do. Because of her, I had to create strategies for projects that were innovative and concepts our city had never explored before.
Hey, I met with mayors, business leaders, funders, and prominent citizens for the benefit of youth-serving organizations. Even though she asked me to do “hard” stuff, by the grace of God, I ALWAYS delivered and she was always my biggest cheerleader.
Not having the most basic credential (a bachelor’s degree) meant I worked HARDER than most. While my colleagues occupied their office space with the confidence they deserved every inch of it, I worked my patootie off in mine.
I was consumed with bringing value to make Deborah proud and when I did, she always applauded me. She celebrated me more than I celebrated myself. In fact, she did that with all of us in the organization.
She was that kind of leader.
God used her to change my life.
During a performance evaluation, she said something like “You can do anything. You’re smart and you’re innovative. If you would get your degree the sky would be the limit.” Somehow hearing Deborah say that I believed it.
After that conversation, something clicked inside me.
While I didn’t move quickly, let me tell you, God did.
A friend of mine introduced me to a dean for the University of Missouri. Long story short, God used that man to facilitate my entire college journey and I paid absolutely nothing for it. All I had to do was get amazing grades and I did that by God’s grace and ability.
Yep, I earned that degree and as I type this Christian lifestyle blog post, I’m on the last leg of attaining my master’s degree in education (M.Ed).
Being in my fifties now, I want to see just how far I can go. With that, I’m flirting with the idea of earning a Ph.D. too.
A Christian in the workplace shouldn’t make assumptions about an atheist or anyone in power. All leadership is established by God. Whether they know it or not, they work for Him and He can use them to promote and help you.
A good manager can make you feel invincible!
Have you ever had a manager like Deborah? Maybe it was in the workplace or maybe it was in another setting?
Leaders carry power far beyond a title or any other formality. A good leader can light a fire in you that will follow you for the rest of your life.
It can impact you and even affect your future generations.
Remember, I had no college graduate examples…but now my kids do!
One of the reasons I think my oldest has advanced degrees is that I changed the trajectory of our family by going to college.
Not only did he see me study and earn my degree, but I regularly articulated to him that I wanted him to do the same. Now, maybe his kids will follow suit and my entire bloodline will earn degrees too.Degrees don't necessarily make us "smarter", they just make us marketable. Read "Christian in the workplace". Click To Tweet
Degrees are not a golden ticket.
Wait! Don’t assume anything about what I’m saying!
Don’t get it twisted, I don’t think college is a magical thing that ensures success. Many people go on to be successful and have awesome careers without it. However, it does help you jump through societal hoops and help you become a critical thinker. I love education for that reason.
No one told me, but God had a plan. He used Deborah and He opened the door for me.
I found a great video sermon by two pastors reminding us to be “light” at work.
This convicted me in some areas of my own work life. It’s all about Jesus – even in my career! Being late, and talking too much to coworkers during work time, are pilfering. No good.
Back to my thoughts about my work experiences as a Christian.
On my job now…I am getting a new manager and what a standard he has to live up to!
It’s only been about eight months since I’ve been at my current job. I love it. It’s a big shiny pond and I am proud to work there. The prestige of the place aside, I am challenged in ways I need to be.
When we get too comfortable in a job, I think our faith muscles get weak. For the last ten years, I worked at a place that was like a mental empty bucket for me. The challenge of the position was far in the past and I had innovated as much as I could there. I was bored. The organizational culture repulsed me.
I needed a change and I needed it DESPERATELY!
I needed to be in a place that would stretch me and force me to call on Jesus for help. Welp, I found it.
For the last eight months, it has been a blast and I liked my manager. She was pretty busy, so I had to navigate my own way around my role. I came up with ideas and innovations as the Lord supplied. She let me soar and try stuff and I went for the gold every chance I could.
Besides, she was/is a Christ follower like me! When not working, we loved chatting about Him and had some other things in common. As a Christian in the workplace, it is nice to have someone you can talk to about the Lord.
But wait! Last week I was told I’d have a new manager. I was like UGH!
“Harpo, who dis man?”
A couple of weeks ago, I got word the department was shifting some things around and I was part of that shift. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed by the change. Still, I worked hard to stay positive.
“God, I trust you.”
That is what I had to tell myself. After all, my life is not my own and my job certainly isn’t either.
I live for Jesus and He is in charge.
Plus, the heart of the king is in the Lord’s hand and if God allowed this to happen, He has a plan. I just need to submit and trust Him.
So, when I met my manager virtually, I must say he seemed like a bright light on the other side of the screen. His smile was wide and open and he seemed just …happy. I, on the other hand, maintained a three-quarter smile and a cautious demeanor.
I was “mean-mugging” a little. 😀
That’s just how I am. I gotta feel people out a bit. I shocked myself at how reserved I was.
Anyway, he seemed like a nice person – which is very important in a manager. Do you agree?
Only about a week has passed, but so far so good. I hope he’s the type of manager who is open-minded as this article, “Great leaders are thoughtful and deliberate…” describes. A good leader is intentional, understands themselves, and isn’t quick to react based on emotion.
Those management styles get on my nerves. Still, I’ve had to work with people like that. AND if it is God’s will for me to experience that sort of leadership again, I’ll trust Him for the strength and wisdom to do it.
As a Christian in the workplace, my job is not to drive how my life flows
as much as it is to follow God’s flow.
Try to trust God too as a Christian in your workplace.
Sometimes, changes will happen and carpets will be pulled out from under you. Instead of panicking, please try to just breathe and ask yourself “How can I trust God in this situation?”
For me, I must take one day at a time, stay positive, work hard and go with God’s plan.
What are some best practices for managers in your opinion?
Here are some of my top-3 skills a manager needs:
- A good manager is focused.
Read “A focused Leader” on the Harvard Business Review site.
- They need to manage processes as well as people.
Read: “How to be a better manager.”
- Solid managers have a vision and focus on relationships. Check out ” The Basics of Managing as a Leader”
Of course, I’ll have scriptures for you!
Scriptures for Christians in the workplace who may have challenges with leaders and managers.
God’s Word ALWAYS comforts, counsels, and directs us. Here are a few scriptures I’m reflecting on in my transition and during my experience as a Christian in the workplace.
“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” Proverbs 29:25
“Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.” Psalm 37:5,6
“But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.
He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when the heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7,8
“Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
and he will establish your plans. Proverbs 16:3
But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
8 They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17: 7,8
“my lips will not say anything wicked,
and my tongue will not utter lies.” Job 27:4
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:21
I think Deborah had each of one these and more. Hey, ya know I just saw her about two weeks ago. She’s retired now and living her best life. I know thanks to her and God’s wonderful kindness, so am I.
Did you have a “Deborah” in your life?