Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done…. Mat 6:9-10
My Christian friends and clients pray these words regularly and earnestly; we mean what we pray and invite the Holy Spirit to use our prayers in the process of changing our hearts. Then, we go to work.
How do our prayers affect us when we go to work?
If you work in a high stress environment, the answer may not always be obvious. Having the experience of several decades in large corporate leadership and now a decade of consulting small business owners, I can testify that nearly all of my peers and clients find their work somewhat stressful.
The pressures of work pull and push you to react and make rapid decisions. Often the pressure to act will result in words or behaviors that you might regret later. “Those were not the words or actions honoring to the witness of Jesus.”
Remorse, apologies, guilt, prideful self-justification…. Whatever follows those moments when our words and deeds don’t align with our faith, we likely agree it would be good to minimize those moments so let’s do that.
When tied together, the following three biblical principles make up a tidy three-legged stool to help you rest in your faith at work. In case you’re not familiar with the three-legged stool metaphor, it’s used to illustrate principles, the legs, that go together to form a solid foundation, the stool. If you remove any of the three legs, you have an unstable foundation.
3 Key Biblical Principles for Business Owners
Love your neighbor as yourself
Matthew 22: 34-39 concludes with Jesus saying “you shall love your neighbor as yourself…”. Jesus explains that loving our neighbor is second only to loving God. That’s a really high priority for us to recognize. It’s a commandment, “you shall love your neighbor.” No qualifiers other than “neighbor” which is safely includes your peers at work.
We must view our co-workers, employees and associates through the eyes of our loving God. We offer the Grace that has been offered to us; always. It will not always be easy; but, the standard is always.
The pressures of leading a business make it so easy for frustration and even anger to creep into our relationships and before we regain our composure, we’ve said or done something inconsistent with loving our neighbor. It’s guarding against the passions of any moment or situation that this Biblical principle needs to always be top of mind.
The first leg of the stool for assuring Thy Will is being done is to “love your neighbor as yourself.”
Speak the Truth in Love
“… speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ…”. Eph 4:15
You might find it hard to get past the “love your neighbor” principle without the second leg of the three-legged stool, Speak the Truth in Love. People can be so hard to love; not me, but so many of those other people.
When we’re feeling that it’s hard to love someone, we need to lean in to the fact that this is a commandment so better to focus on how I’m going to do it over whether I should do it. Context is important. Recall the people we’re discussing are people in your workplace. We would all be wise to use discretion with the application of “speaking the truth in love” with the general public.
Most often there is some behavior or other action that causes tension between ourselves and the other party that hinders our ability to freely love them. We can ignore it and hope it gets better or we can be thoughtful about how we might speak to others to clear the air. Given we are talking about people in our workplace with whom we have some relationship, it is often appropriate to honor the principle of speaking the truth in love.
If you’re a leader and manager of people, you owe it to them to be clear, specific and fair in telling them the truth about their behaviors that determine their future. The preparation for and act of speaking the truth in love to a peer in the workplace helps to soften our hearts toward the other person. When you put the appropriate consideration for others into a conversation, many of your flawed or unloving thoughts will fall away. When you speak the truth in love, you can’t help but recognize where you are not being loving toward them.
Speaking the Truth in Love is a critical element of any loving relationship; including in the work place for the believer. It’s simple but not always easy which brings us to the third leg of the stool.
Pray Without Ceasing
Paul exhorts the Thessalonians to “… rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you…”. 1 Thes 5:16
The third leg of the stool makes the principles of Loving Your Neighbor and Speaking the Truth in Love possible. We will all fail to honor the will of God without prayerful consideration of our thoughts and plans.
Prayers don’t need to be long, formal affairs with a Bible for reference. Prayer without ceasing can be pausing to be prayerful and intentional with any matter of substance.
Pray for your heart where you don’t feel like loving your neighbor. Pray over why you feel the way you do. Pray over how you might best clear the air where conflict arises. Pray on discernment for what is true. Pray for humility in fairness to others. Pray for how you might speak the truth in love.
Thy Will Be Done
The biblical principles that assure Thy Will Be Done are consistent themes from scripture. All of scripture is of God and good for building of your faith. The three principles outlined above help me every day.
These three principles are inspired encouragement to act in accordance with God’s will and help guard against my leaning too heavily upon my own selfish objectives.
No matter how heated, hurried or urgent the matter, I can pray in moments on whether I’m being loving toward others or speaking the truth in love. My brain will offer its’ contributions to technical solutions, financial impact or any other criteria the world finds valuable, but my heart is checked by the three-legged stool.
Love Your Neighbor as Yourself, Speak the Truth in Love, Pray Without Ceasing.
Do these things and let Thy Will Be Done.