08 Feb #055 – Integriosity – RENEW—Keep First Things First—Love—Loving by Serving—Nature of Work
ESSENCE: The nature of work in God’s design is that it is how we use our God-given skills to obey His commandments through SERVICE. People are more fully human when they are working in alignment with God’s purpose for work–a vehicle for living out the Creation Mandate and the great commandments to love God and love each other. Embedding the Biblical principle of work as service in the culture and heart of an organization is essential to faithfully “doing right”, because it is essential in order for each person in the organization to understand that they are using their gifts to serve others for a BIGGER purpose, which itself is essential to flourishing.
Keep First Things First means going back to Biblical first principles, and we are looking at the first “Generosity Priority” embedded into Integriosity®—Love. In the last two posts, we explained why James Hunter’s concept of faithful presence is the best way to understand how to love your neighbor in the context of an organization (#053) and how embedding the Biblical principle of love your neighbor into an organization’s culture is central to people becoming more fully human by being able to live out Imago Dei (#054).
The nature of work in God’s design is that it is how we use our skills to obey His commandments through SERVICE. People are more fully human when they are working in alignment with God’s purpose for work–work is a vehicle for living out the Creation Mandate and the great commandments.
Love by Serving–Nature of Work
By our nature as creations in the image of God, we are given gifts of creativity and productivity through specific skills and physical and mental abilities. Some are given a gift of physical strength, some an artistic ability, some a logical mind, some a mathematical mind, some a poetic mind, some a business mind, some a gift of nurture and care, some a gift of ideating, some a gift of craftsmanship, some a gift of executing, some a gift of elocution, and some athletic ability. Work is the platform God created for putting these gifts to creative and productive use for His glory.
Gifts and the Creation Mandate. Through our work, these gifts come together to permit us, collectively, to pursue the Creation Mandate to cultivate and steward God’s creation. We do that by taking the raw materials God created and applying our image-bearing creativity and productivity to produce new things that bring and promote flourishing, including by allowing culture and society. Work is a VEHICLE for pursuing the Creation Mandate.
Gifts and the Great Commandments. 1 Peter 4:10-11 declares that we are to use these gifts–the basis of our work and stewardship–“to serve one another”:
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace…in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.
Humans are meant to serve one another through work by applying their gifts to steward creation and promote flourishing of that creation. We are also meant to glorify God in all we do. When we reflect the image of God by exercising our God-given gifts through work to serve one another, we are also living out the commandments to love God and love one another. Work is a VEHICLE for living out those commandments.
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace…in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 4:10-11)
At Integrous, we believe embedding the Biblical principle of work as service in the culture and heart of an organization is essential to faithfully “doing right”, because it is essential in order for each person in the organization to be fully human by understanding that the work they are doing is using God-given gifts to serve others for a BIGGER purpose, which itself is essential in order for them to flourish. It also reinforces the importance of relationships, which is another of our Imago Dei characteristics.
The quote from Jeff Van Duzer (introduced in Post #047) bears repeating yet again.
When humans engage in creative, meaningful work that grows out of relationships and gives back to the community they become more deeply human.
We believe it is time for “business a better way” in alignment with Biblical values and priorities such as LOVE–it is time to begin faithfully “doing right” through Integriosity®.
SPOILER ALERT: In our next two posts, we will explore the nature of business and how the purpose of work and business come together in “loving by serving”.
PERSONAL NOTE (from PM): When I think of “work” and “service”, I think of the term “servant leadership”. Introduced in 1970 by Robert K. Greenleaf in an essay called The Servant as Leader, it has become a common term in books as a “Jesus” model for faith-based leaders. But I don’t believe effective servant leadership is embodied in the classic picture of a meek Jesus with a lamb on His shoulders–all about the soft side of relationships and caring. In his book Connection Culture, Michael Stallard notes that servant leaders “develop task excellence and relationship excellence“. Because work is a way to use our God-given skills to serve others in a way that glorifies God, task excellence is important.
In August of 2016, the Wall Street Journal published an article called At Kimberly-Clark, “Dead Wood” Workers Have Nowhere to Hide. The article described a dramatic culture shift at Kimberly-Clark resulting from the hiring of new human resources executives who brought in “performance management” initiatives. This quote particularly struck me: “Not long ago, when Kimberly-Clark Corp. employees gathered for interdepartmental meetings, they prefaced their comments with their names and years of service at the company. These days, ‘no one cares'”. Some other quotes from the article tell the story:
- Retired sales manager Jeanne Sanders remembers executives boasting about the firm’s low turnover when she interviewed at Kimberly-Clark in 1987. Stories are told about how during the Depression and in more-recent production interruptions, mill managers reconfigured shifts to avoid layoffs.
- Even low performers rarely felt pressure. “A lot of people could and would hide in the weeds,” said Rick Herbert, a sales director.
- One of the company’s goals now is “managing out dead wood,” aided by performance-management software that helps track and evaluate salaried workers’ progress and quickly expose laggards.
- Turnover is now about twice as high it was a decade ago, with approximately 10% of U.S. employees leaving annually, voluntarily or not, the company said.
- One former employee said he was initially glad that the company was identifying those who weren’t pulling their weight. Then, after earning top reviews over his decadeslong career, he said he was given a low rating and placed on a performance-improvement plan after missing a project deadline. After that, “no one would talk to me” about other positions, he said.