“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” The Golden Rule. Sometimes we forget that this old adage is taken from Luke’s Gospel. In fact, this may be one of those gems that we can take with us into the workplace without having to worry about people complaining about our “religiosity.” But do we?
When Paul’s boss at the garage is out of town, Paul rarely comes in before 9:30 a.m., but when he sees Ted, one of his mechanics, coming in at 9:15 a.m., he self-righteously snaps, “You’re late!”
Sue, a hairstylist, calls her doctor on Tuesday morning for an appointment and becomes indignant when she’s told that there is nothing available until Friday. But that afternoon, when Mary Ann calls for a haircut, Sue informs her in no uncertain terms that she has nothing available for at least two weeks and that she should have called earlier!
Greg spends 15 minutes helping Mrs. Forsythe pick out exactly the right color of paint at the hardware store where he works only to have Mrs. Forsythe complain because she has to wait five minutes in the checkout line.
Traffic jams, busy signals, overbooked appointment calendars, long lines at the checkout counter; these things happen all the time in our busy, hurry-up, 21st century world. What makes these examples unusual is how Ted, Mary Ann and Greg respond to being treated so poorly. Ted apologizes to Paul and explains that he has been delayed by traffic. Mary Ann asks Sue when she might be able to fit her in. And Greg even offers to throw in a free paintbrush to make up for Mrs. Forsythe’s inconvenience.
Why did they do that? Why didn’t they get mad or, better yet, get even? Jesus said, “Do to others,” right? Well, not exactly. Jesus said, “Do to others as you would have them do to you,” not, “Do to others before they do to you.” It seems that there are two versions of this particular gem. The question is: Which version do we choose to take with us into the workplace?
Van Benthem is a longtime pastoral minister in the diocese.