In many workplaces talking about God, religion or even spirituality is frowned upon. In some, it’s actually prohibited. But there are other words that are more acceptable such as compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Employees are expected to be compassionate and to support the needs of their co-workers. When Carolyn lost her mother her boss told her to take as much time off as she needed. In doing so, Carolyn’s boss exhibited compassion.
And everyone knows that the workplace is a much more pleasant place to be when people are kind to one another. No one likes to be around someone who is constantly gossiping or pointing out the faults of other employees. If nothing else, it makes one wonder what that person is saying about you when you’re not around.
Humility can be a bit problematic, probably because so many people confuse it with being a doormat. Some people practice false humility when in reality they’re looking for compliments. Humility is actually honesty, and most of us would have to admit that it’s much easier to be with someone who acknowledges and uses their gifts, but doesn’t go around “tooting their own horn” about them.
Gentleness can also be confused with timidity. But there is a real strength in gentleness. Anyone who has ever worked in human resources recognizes the importance of this quality.
And, finally, there is patience. Are we patient with those who are new in the workplace? Do we encourage them to learn from their mistakes? Or do we shout and yell, demanding that they know how to do everything right the first time?
In Paul’s letter to the Colossians he invites the people to put on “heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” But then he adds one more line. “And over all these put on love.” When we do these things in love we know that God is truly present, even if our workplace discourages talking about religion, because God is love. So “whatever you do … do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,” even if you never say a word.
Van Benthem is a longtime pastoral minister in the diocese.