By Chris Bates
Becoming a Spiritual Leader in the Workplace
My black Labrador retriever turned to me with that intense gaze to see which direction I would send her for the first retrieve of the morning. In one split second her look conveyed anticipation and determination, yet it also yearned for direction, guidance, and permission. That moment with the brightening horizon in the background reminded me to the core that a key part of my opportunity as a man is to provide direction, guidance, and approval to those around me. Why does that often seem difficult as a Christian man in the workplace?
You will not hear me claim to have lived without significant mistakes or not have endured major challenges in life as a business leader. We as Christians are promised a happy destiny, but we are not promised that the journey will always be easy. Our careers and work lives hit roadblocks and trials, whether by a downturned economy or a multitude of other reasons. We face aggravating inner-office daily grind disagreements, challenges motivating employees, tough ethical monetary decisions and cutthroat competitors.
In my career path as an executive director, business owner, and now marketing company president, I have been consistently inundated with tough choices, desires to take shortcuts, feelings of burnout, personality conflicts, and the like. Admittedly, I have chosen wrong at times amidst many bountiful successes.
C.S. Lewis tells us that, “Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” What choices do we make each day, how are we led, and how do we interweave Christian principles into our careers? Our greatest challenges are also our greatest opportunities, if we choose for them to be so with God’s guidance.
Admiration from those around us is most honestly earned through transparency and example. Therein lie opportunities to be God-designed spiritual leaders. It is actually easier to simply bark orders. I worked for those types of guys early on, and I certainly did not admire them nor was I internally motivated. If guidance and direction are the goals, can we not first live daily as God would have us, and in turn lead others by example and help them down their own spiritually led paths? It is the tougher way to work and live in our highly secular modern world.
Lewis also reminds us in The Case for Christianity that, “This year, or this month, or, more likely, this very day, we have failed to practice ourselves the kind of behavior we expect from other people.” God grants opportunities to me every day to be a vessel for His message. The problem lies in the fact that most of the time I miss them.
While I fully believe that, as men, the best of us are true partners to our family members and those with whom we work, we are also called to something more. These thoughts are not exclusive to men in the workplace by any means. In fact, sometimes we men tend to charge ahead without as much thought as our female counterparts.
A man’s role as a strong leader in the workplace, just as with his family, is not to be oppressive when providing direction and guidance. Rather it lies in the opportunities from the role that we are often given. Luke 12:48 tells us, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” We are responsible then, to live by both example and transparency, and to work as God-designed spiritual leaders.
Chris is President & Founder of Agora Company, a marketing, website, and advertising company based in Jackson, and can be reached at Chris@AgoraCompany.com. He and his wife, Stacy, and their children live in Madison.