By Chris Bates
There are few things as intense and impressive as a working dog in the outdoors. On one opening day, 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 a split second, her look conveyed anticipation and determination, yet it also yearned for direction, guidance and permission. That moment reminded me that a key part of my opportunity as a person is to provide direction, guidance and approval to those around me.
You will not hear me claim to have lived without significant mistakes or major challenges as a business leader. We as Christians are promised a happy destiny but not an easy journey. Our work lives hit roadblocks and trials, whether by a downturned economy or any multitude of reasons. We face challenges motivating employees, tough ethical monetary decisions, and cutthroat competitors. Sometimes it looks like hard choices, desires to take shortcuts, and feelings of burnout. In my career, I have been consistently inundated with difficulties. Admittedly, I have chosen wrong at times amidst many successes.
How do we live out Christian principles within our careers? Our greatest challenges are also our greatest opportunities, if we choose for them to be so. Admiration from those around us is most honestly earned through transparency and example. Therein lies the opportunity to be God-directed and reflective.
It is easier to simply bark orders. I worked for those types of managers early on, and I did not admire them, nor was I internally motivated. But if guidance and direction are the goals, should we not first live daily as God would have us, and in turn lead others by example and help them down their own paths? This is the tougher way to work and live in our highly secular work world.
In “The Case for Christianity,” C.S. Lewis said, “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 each of us every day to be a vessel for His message. The problem is that too often we miss them. While I believe the best of us are partners to our family members and colleagues, we are also called to something more.
The role of a workplace leader is not to be oppressive. Rather it lies in the opportunities that the role often gives us. We are to look to God for direction as eagerly as a working dog in her environment. 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 Bates is CEO and co-founder of AgoraEversole a full-service marketing agency in Jackson, and can be reached at Chris@AgoraEversole.com. He and his wife, Stacy, and their children live in Madison.