It's a competitive world in the workplace no less than anywhere else. So how does peace fit in for a Christian at work?
It's a competitive world. On the sports field, driving a car, at school, at work. I wouldn't say "especially" at work, but there are two unique aspects to workplace competitiveness : the amount of time you are in that environment and the connection between performance and pay, including bonuses. There is a limited pool of money, so each manager has to bargain for a share and then determine how it is divided among the team. It can literally pay to ensure your boss knows how well you've done, or how poorly your colleague has done, or both. Sometimes the system is administered fairly, but it is still administered by people using somewhat subjective means.
No wonder you hear phrases like dog-eat-dog, top the leaderboard, climb the corporate ladder and join the rat race. Sounds exhausting, doesn't it? It is.
Does it need to be like this? Just because you are a lawyer, labourer, doctor, driver, butcher, baker or candlestick maker, do you necessarily have to work with a competitive mindset? To some extent, yes, where that is relevant to the discharge of your duties. Mostly, though, the Holy Spirit would have us keep another focus: peace.
Do you know the story of Abram and Lot in the Bible? In Genesis 13:5-18 we read about these two hugely successful branches of the family. There were so many people and livestock that they found it too difficult to stay together. It would have been a logistical challenge, for sure! Anyway, Abram takes Lot to look out over the land and even though he, uncle Abram, was the senior, he let his nephew choose first where he wanted to settle. Lot chose the lush plains, of course, and they parted ways in peace.
Things don't work out so well for Lot, but that's not what I want to focus on right now. Let's go back to that moment when Abram allowed Lot to choose first. Take that into a work setting. Would you let your colleague - or even a junior - have first choice of projects, desks, team tasks, opportunities to present to senior management or selection of holiday time slots? WOW. WHAT?! Obviously there are sometimes factors that take the choice out of your hands, such as having specific skills or responsibilities. If there is a choice available though, would you do it?
Abram chose a peaceful path and remained at peace with his choice. In fact, when Lot was in trouble a while later, Abram organised his servants into an army and they ran to rescue Lot and his family.
The Holy Spirit makes this possible for us. As a fruit of the Spirit, peace grows stronger in us the longer we tend to our spiritual growth. Jesus is the Prince of Peace and in John 14:27 we read "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid."
Set aside competitiveness, gossip and self-serving. Look for ways to share this peace that has been shared with you.
First and foremost, I'm a Christian living in a real and positive personal relationship with God. Through serving Him, reading the Bible and praying I grow to know Him more every day. Partnering with God is humbling, exciting, fun and serious business all at once!