Agents of Joy

By Elizabeth Argus

In the serious pursuits of the workplace, joy is an often overlooked virtue. But we are called to be joyful in all circumstances, and joy is a gift we are called to share with others. As Paul advises, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all.” (Philippians 4:4)

We are buoyed by the joy of colleagues, and their joy calls us on to excellence. Conversely, we are weighed down by joyless colleagues: their negativity can be a burden to the whole staff.

It’s important to develop an awareness of actions and attitudes in the workplace that can rob us of joy so we can work to avoid or correct them.

Obstacles to Joy

Navel Gazing

When we are focused on our needs, above the needs of others, we can become prone to fear. We compare ourselves to others, and work becomes a competition, with winners and losers. We lose our sense of humor and the ability to laugh at ourselves.


Our desire for admiration and respect can drive us to insist that we are always right. We can be inflexible, and not open to input or change—especially change that challenges our way of doing things.


We can see work as a means to earn money and hold our colleagues at arm’s length. Relationships at work are superficial and impersonal. We associate only with members of our rank or department. We exclude others.

Actions and Attitudes that Nurture Joy

It’s easy to be joyful when we’re happy with how things are going. But how do we maintain joy when we’re not happy in a given situation? The following habits of mind and heart can foster joy in us, regardless of our circumstances.


Kindness takes a little extra time. When we take time to communicate our faith in a coworker, especially one who is young and inexperienced, their struggles can become labors of joy. When we bring comfort and solace to coworkers who are suffering, we strengthen the bonds of friendship at work.

Playfulness Rooted in Faith

The ability to laugh at ourselves and our situations is an undervalued gift. A sense of humor steadies nerves and calms emotions. This is linked to our faith in our wise and loving Father, who is working with us to get the job done. “… She can laugh at the days to come.” (Proverbs 31:25)

Gratitude and Humility

What if instead of saying, “I have to work,” we said “I get to work”? It’s important to remember that work is a privilege and a gift. Gratitude goes hand in hand with humility. We’re all dependent on our Father, who cares for us. We recognize our colleagues as equals, regardless of their rank, talent, or experience level. Ultimately, we can chose love over fear. And where love abounds, joy abounds. Where we practice kindness, playfulness, gratitude, and humility—there we find joy.

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:11-12)

2 thoughts on “Agents of Joy

  1. Joy is a choice I make everyday. Part of my work in retirement is volunteering with a major local hospital where I greet those coming to the facility whether patients, family or staff. The object is to put a smile on their faces – a human touch for those patients and family members. And to keep joy in the hearts of our staff including doctors. It is working. I love people and it is easy for me. I choose every morning to be joyful. The alternative sucks.

  2. I have to work vs. I get to work.
    Wow, got me there . . . But that’s an attitude I need/ want, and it’s true. Thanks for unmasking that subtle mis-perception.

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