By Gregory F. Augustine Pierce
There are many Christian virtues that managers can practice. I define a Christian virtue as “a habit based on a long-standing belief that God is love.” Here are seven such virtues, with a quote for each from the Letter to the Romans as translated by Rev. Eugene Peterson in The Message.
The Virtue of Empowering/Teaching
This virtue is based on the idea that helping others reach their potential is our vocation (or at least one of our vocations); that what we do at work matters a lot more to others than what we say; and that teaching and empowering needs to be incorporated into our workplace culture.
If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.
The Virtue of Creativity /Risk-Taking
This virtue encourages us to step outside our comfort zone; to produce what we might not otherwise have produced; to market our goods and services in different ways; and to design better methods and structures for running our workplaces.
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
The Virtue of Generosity/Loyalty
The virtue is aimed at how we deal with our employees, colleagues, vendors, customers, and communities in new, exciting, and holy ways.
Forget about deciding what’s right for each other. Here’s what you need to be concerned about: that you don’t get in the way of someone else, making life more difficult than it already is. I’m convinced—Jesus convinced me!—that everything as it is in itself is holy. We, of course, by the way we treat it or talk about it, can contaminate it.
Romans 14: 13-14
The Virtue of Competence/Hard Work
This virtue says that how we do our work is as important as what we do; that we have a duty to always do our best; that results matter; and that we always have to work at least as hard as our employees.
But make sure that you don’t get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-by-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God. The night is about over, dawn is about to break. Be up and awake to what God is doing! God is putting the finishing touches on the salvation work he began when we first believed. We can’t afford to waste a minute, must not squander these precious daylight hours in frivolity and indulgence, in sleeping around and dissipation, in bickering and grabbing everything in sight. Get out of bed and get dressed! Don’t loiter and linger, waiting until the very last minute. Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about!
The Virtue of Joy/Peace/Fulfillment
This virtue is about being perceived as happy because we are; communicating that we love our work and are grateful for it; demonstrating that we are truly humble and appreciative of others.
Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.
Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.
Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.
The Virtue of Prayerfulness/Centeredness
This virtue is the one that allows us to practice the others; that keeps us aware and attentive to what we are trying to accomplish at work; that reminds us that we are more than our work.
Cultivate your own relationship with God, but don’t impose it on others. You’re fortunate if your behavior and your belief are coherent. But if you’re not sure, if you notice that you are acting in ways inconsistent with what you believe—some days trying to impose your opinions on others, other days just trying to please them—then you know that you’re out of line. If the way you live isn’t consistent with what you believe, then it’s wrong.
The Virtue of Vision/Mission/World-Building
This is the “kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven” virtue, the one that reminds us that what we do is important and has a purpose; that our work should be helping to make the world a better place; and that Christianity is first and foremost a this-world reality, not a next-world wish.
And so while there has never been any question about your honesty in these matters—I couldn’t be more proud of you!—I want you also to be smart, making sure every “good” thing is the real thing. Don’t be gullible in regard to smooth-talking evil. Stay alert like this, and before you know it the God of peace will come down on Satan with both feet, stomping him into the dirt. Enjoy the best of Jesus!
(Gregory F. Augustine Pierce is the author of an upcoming new blog on the Patheos Faith and Work Channel called +WORKmessages. He is president and publisher of ACTA Publications in Chicago and a former president of the National Center for the Laity. Scripture quotes are from The Message: Catholic/Ecumenical Edition by Eugene Peterson, ©2013. All rights reserved.)