So, Peggy Noonan speculates that Christie’s “Bridgegate” may have come about due to young staffers using Atwater-like tactics in order to win the boss’s admiration. How pathetic of these young folks, right? But how many of us have been guilty of working to seek the approval of a superior and committing a number of sins along the way? We may not have pulled a New Jersey bridge stunt and snarled traffic for days but my guess is that nearly everyone, including me, has made some regrettable mistakes in this vein. It’s just part of human nature–we want to do well, we want approval—and we’re fallible. That’s a potent formula for disaster. What’s the antidote?
Years ago, a quintessential gentleman and longtime employee of Grove City College retired and said that the primary motivation for his work was the Bible verse Colossians 3:23: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” That verse can certainly change a worker and a workplace culture.
I had read the apostle Paul’s words many times but when my colleague cited them, I began to think more deeply about their implications. It meant that my primary motivation should be to love God and my neighbor as myself. Those are the things that my eternal boss requires. Yes, I had to work hard and do my best to serve others. I also had to be vigilant about the reasons I worked hard and I had to be careful to cultivate healthy workplace relationships. Is Colossians 3:23 a panacea? Well, no, because in Christian parlance, I’m still a sinner and I fall short. But Colossians 3:23 is certainly a powerful workplace commandment and wisdom that produces peace in a variety of ways.
If Peggy Noonan is correct about the motivation of Governor Christie’s staffers, they made a classic mistake that could have been avoided. Noonan wrote, “The (political operatives) who are young lack judgment, but they don’t know they lack judgment because they’re not wise enough. So they don’t check themselves.” Colossians 3:23 is a good check for young and old.
So far, one of Christie’s staffers has paid for her mistake with her job. The boss fired her. Colossians 3:25 says, “For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.” There is wisdom in those words as well. Colossians 3:23-25 are old words but they’re still relevant for all of us in the workplace today.
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