Countless times in scripture, we are called to be like Christ.
Jesus speaks in John 14:15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” 1 John 2:6 reads, “Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” 1 Peter 2:21 commands us to “follow in his steps” as well, just to name a few.
I recently finished a great read, Dane C. Ortlund’s “Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers.” I learned so much from this work, not just for my own personal walk with Christ, but also in the way that I treat and interact with others.
Ortlund focuses his writing on Matthew 11:29 (ESV), “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
This passage can bring Christians great peace to know we are known and loved by a savior who is both gentle and lowly in heart, but what if, as we are called to be like Christ – we emulated this same gentleness and lowliness to the people we spend half our lives with? Our co-workers.
Here are four steps we can take to be more “gentle and lowly” in the workplace:
The point in saying Jesus is lowly is that he is accessible. This is a truth we already know but think about it deeply. Ortlund says, “For all his resplendent glory and dazzling holiness, his supreme uniqueness and otherness, no one has ever been more approachable than Jesus Christ.” No prerequisites. No hoops to jump through. Verse 28 in Matthew 11 mentions who has access to Christ, “all who labor and are heavy laden.”
Let’s have our hearts open to those same people in our office space. We can do this effectively and with excellence by managing our own time well, setting boundaries, and dedicating time in our day to specifically be accessible. Whether it be for additional help or insight on a project, support or feedback, or even availability for lunch or prayer, be open, welcoming, and accessible.
Now that we’re accessible, we look to Hebrews, where we find out just how Jesus deals with those who come to him. It’s here – in 5:2 – that we find that no matter the reason, Jesus “deals gently and only gently with [all] who come to him.”
I remember my first failed assignment at Workmatters. I was tasked with organizing a paid ad campaign on Facebook. We had great reach, graphics looked great, geographical filter added, but I had forgotten to remove the “United States” tag. I was campaigning to people all over the country for an in-person class. *face palm*
I gave myself a bathroom pep talk and I met with my supervisor at the time, Ben Kirksey, who had done exactly as Jesus would have, he dealt gently with me. He praised me for coming to him, for researching my mistakes, and being prepared to apply my learnings the next time around.
When we sin, we are encouraged to bring our mess to Jesus because he will know just how to receive us. In the same manner, we should encourage those we work with to bring their “mess-ups” to us as well and if we are to be and lead like Christ in our workplaces, it starts with dealing gently.
Never Cast Out
As we become a welcome space for our peers to come to when they need support, and then we deal gently with them, it’s important to continue to make them feel welcomed and valued in the workplace. In John 6:37, Jesus states, “All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”
The keyword here is all. Not “most” or “some” or even “those who refill the printer when it’s out of paper,” Jesus says, “all.” He also says that he will never cast us out, with an emphasis on the word never. This means we can come to Jesus, over and over, for whatever reason and there is no limit to his understanding and forgiveness.
At work our teams should feel similarly confident that if they come to us, no matter how many times, they will not be cast out. We can do this by acknowledging the courage in vulnerability of those who come to us and empowering them to continue to do so.
Be an Advocate
In the book, Ortlund references 1 John 2:1, “We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” Being an advocate for those we supervise, or influence seems obvious, but this is not to be confused with interceding. Intercession has the idea of mediating between two parties, maybe as the representative for your team to another department. Advocacy is the idea of aligning oneself with another, an advocate joins the one party as he approaches the other.
He makes the distinction clear, “Intercession is something Christ is always doing, advocacy is something he does as occasion calls for it.” Christ’s advocacy for us during turmoil, trials, and transgressions is personal.
Being an advocate isn’t just for those with direct reports, it’s for all of us. Outwardly supporting an idea of another, standing up for others in our workplace, or speaking on behalf of those who don’t have as much pull or say in executive meetings is a great way to pour out the love of Christ at work.
As we follow Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:29, may we remember these steps in being “gentle and lowly” in our work this week.
If you’re interested, here is a link to Gentle and Lowly by Dane C. Ortlund.