Like most people I’ve been thinking a lot about the recent friction in our culture and how I am called to respond to it. Personally and professionally; in the whole of my life that includes my business.
As a confessing Christian, my response carries the appropriate burden of testing my feelings through the guidance of my Faith as represented by Scripture and wise counsel. It’s so easy to get caught up in public square talking points from this side or that. Social media has surely fanned the embers while various pundits pour fuel indiscriminately in all directions.
We all see the blazing dumpster fire of public discourse surrounding social justice issues today. Unfortunately, I have found solid Biblical wisdom/commentary harder to come by than criminal law or infectious disease experts with the latter generally speaking much more frequently and at a higher volume.
A recent sermon preached by Pastor Gerrit Dawson spoke to the issues whirling about my head and heart quite well so thought to share some of the points that jumped out to me in this post. You can listen to the original sermon here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCogtmg1zhw
As a business owner and coach, I wanted to share a few points for business application that I hope will help others focus their own thoughts and yes, prayers.
1. We Don’t Like To Lament
We would rather be angry than filled with sorrow. Lament has and will always be an important part of the human experience as long as we dwell in this world. Israel endured hundreds of years of bondage and oppression making for some of the most woeful writing in all of Scripture.
Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me.
– Lamentations 3:19-20
God knows all of our sufferings and sent Jesus to experience the worst of our sufferings in person. Christ’s knowledge of our pain goes far beyond awareness and into a more extreme experience that any living man can imagine. Christ knew lament and it is part of actually living a Christian life. You can just be sorry for how things are or how things happened without lashing out at others.
It is appropriate to share sorrow over pain with your employees. When suffering, people may say things that cause us to bristle in response. Exert self-control that allows you to be a compassionate soul and one who can lament along with brothers and sisters who are feeling pain. Lamenting along with someone does not equal condoning specific behavior, speech or even views.
Don’t replace lament with anger, violence or sin.
2. Our World Is Not Us versus Them
Our fight is not against human beings. It is against the rulers, the authorities and the powers of this dark world. It is against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly world.
– Ephesians 6:12
Guard against falling prey to bitterness by looking for enemies around every corner. People love to create “sides” where they can concoct a good guy and a bad guy. Yoda versus the evil Emperor. Conflict sells so news reports, talk shows, social media and political campaigns will drag you into a brawl if you let them.
Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high.
– Isaiah 58:4
We are all creations in the image of the Living God who gave His son so that all who believe will have eternal life with Him. God has not delegated the authority of judgement to you or I but has instructed us to love one another… including our perceived rivals.
Don’t let your business play a role in the Us versus Them story. “Our fight is not against human beings” so as a business leader, you have the ability to recognize when anyone is dragging your company or your employees into a formation set for battle made of this world.
In short promote peace and civil discourse where it builds up your business culture and community. Where people want to stir the pot of evil intentions, influence them to redirect for good.
3. We Are To Be Repairers Of The Breach Amongst All God’s People
If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.
– Isaiah 58:9-10
Letting ourselves simply lament the way things have turned out or feel empathy with those who suffer offers a truce in cultural battles. Isaiah has some harsh conviction for those who propagate injustice and specifically exhorts us to care for those who suffer. I have to be careful not to let others who may take a figurative swing at me from my computer screen or the water cooler, sucker me into a fight with people I should be caring for.
As anyone who knows me will attest, I enjoy the spirited exchange of diverse ideas; I probably enjoy it a little too much. It’s hard work to keep my language and my heart in the right place of caring for others and avoiding “pointing fingers or speaking wickedness.”
It is of eternal significance that we keep the priority in our world view to lift up those who need our help, clothes those who are without, house those who are homeless. We may not agree on how to accomplish many things as the world is a complicated place, but we should not categorize anyone who disagrees as an enemy.
One way that conversation can easily go sideways is the relaxed use of sarcasm. It’s easy to lose track of who is in your audience where something a close friend would find funny, may greatly offend a work associate. It’s really sound wisdom to clamp down on sarcasm as a language tool as there are much better ways to communicate without it. Controlling sarcasm is not pandering to a hypersensitive culture by the way; there are legitimate misunderstandings that occur with frequent use of sarcasm that derail the message that you mean to convey.
View your business environment as the most fertile of all mission fields. By working within our spheres of influence and businesses in ways that are consistent with solid Biblical foundations, we move into the role of “repairers of the breach.”
I don’t agree with many things I read, many words I hear spoken nor some actions of my work associates, employees and clients, but we are all fighting the same battles and they are not with each other.
And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in.
– Isaiah 58:12