Love and Compassion at Work?

by | Oct 13, 2014

It has been over two months since I last blogged. July 31 in fact. There is a very real reason behind this blog sabbatical. I want to share both the story and an influential life lesson experienced that I pray will benefit you.

July 31 was about the time our family made the painful decision to move my Dad, our leader and our hero, into a nursing home. My Mom had cared for Dad throughout his nine-year battle with Alzheimer’s. It was time. We prepared ourselves for a new life of caring for Dad there. But God had other plans. By His grace, through some completely unexpected and unforeseen circumstances, our hero passed away just three weeks later on August 21, 2014.

My Mom, two brothers and I had the privilege of seeing people wait in line for three hours at the Visitation and the standing room only Celebration of Life the next day…to share their Jim Roth stories. It was amazing to see and hear how our hero influenced so many people.

Throughout this recent experience, God has taught me many things. But there is one that stands tall before all the others:

I experienced incredible love and compassion.

The lesson I want to share with you today is how I experienced compassion and love through my relationships at work. It was amazing to see my coworkers at WorkMatters show their deep care and concern. It was such a blessing to receive countless texts, emails, cards, phone calls and face-to-face visits from men and women that I work with.

Love and compassion at work are not words you often see in the same sentence. Culture trains leaders to focus on execution and results (as we should), with little emphasis on personal care or concern for coworkers. You are here to get a job done and that’s it. That’s what the world tells you.

But there is more. A lot more. There is more in the stories I heard from the men and women that worked for my Dad (and Mom) at their successful clothing store. There is more in the stories from their customers about their personal love and compassion. And, of course, there is more in the life of Jesus.

So what can you do? How can you do our work with excellence and integrity, but also build relationships with love and compassion. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Give yourself permission – for millennial young professionals, this will come easier. For older generations, this will be most difficult. You have to decide personally that this style of leadership is for you.
  2. Read the Bible – you must decide if the Gospel message can “work at work.” 1 Corinthians 13 is the place to start.
  3. Learn from other leaders – find a leader you respect and discuss this with them. I highly recommend reading our previous FUSE speaker Joel Manby’s book, Love Works.
  4. You must still make difficult decisions – leading with love and compassion does not equal being soft. Leaders must hold coworkers accountable, solve major problems, make human resource decisions, etc. Those things can be done with love and compassion.
  5. Try it – try it on for size this week. See how it feels. Pray for God to give you wisdom and courage.

Most of you don’t know Jim Roth. He was a true hero. He was captain of the 1954 “25 Little Pigs” Arkansas Razorback football team, an incredible husband to Joey, strong father to Danny, Kenny and me, the best grandfather six boys could ever hope for and a virtuous example of a marketplace leader.

This is real. This is critical. How will love and compassion be part of your work life?

Closing the gap together,


Photo of David Roth

David Roth

David Roth has been the president and CEO of Workmatters since October, 2003. Workmatters is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in Northwest Arkansas in 2003 with a mission is to help people pursue God’s purpose for their work. Since then, Workmatters has been used to impact thousands of leaders in Northwest Arkansas and across the U.S. Prior to leading Workmatters, Mr. Roth was vice president, sales and marketing for J.B. Hunt Transport, Inc. Before joining J.B. Hunt in 1999, David was the senior vice president of marketing for Manugistics, a supply chain management software provider in Maryland and vice president of marketing for American Software in Atlanta, Ga. He also has nine years of supply chain management experience with McKesson Corporation in San Francisco, Calif. and Harrison, Ark. David has a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Arkansas. He resides in Fayetteville, Ark. with his wife, Theresa and has two sons, Dylan and Tyler.