By Ed Hennen
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2:3-4)
In order to reflect Jesus, others need to see Christ in us. Likely, our actions will speak louder than our words. In my work as a manager, employee performance reviews are required, and professional critique was part of the process. It was sometimes necessary to be critical, even up to the point of dismissing an employee. Although sometimes perceived as being too kind, I believe Jesus wanted me to share the truth about performance, while still providing the individual with an avenue for change.
A Strong Foundation
To reflect Christ in the marketplace, we need to start from a well-founded base. This means spending some time each day in prayer and personal reflection to get our mind in the right place. Before moving out into the marketplace, it’s a good idea to check our image in the mirror to see if our face is saying what our mind is thinking. A deep or persistent scowl is unlikely to be a very effective reflection.
Our countenance needs to be peace-filled instead of angry. This doesn’t mean we cannot be serious, but as Christians we need to be patient yet deliberant in our focus. It may require taking a strong position on matters of faith that not everyone will like, while being truthful and honest without being cynical. It’s often too easy to be critical, which limits our ability to be constructive. The ability to share joy through self-deprecating humor has often worked well for me. Admitting my faults and foibles in a light, humorous manner has often been the opening for more serious conversation. Justas in the Parable of the Talents, when I am trusted by sharing the small challenges of my life with others, I may be trusted to address the larger personal concerns with them as well.
A Servant’s Heart
In my volunteer work as a business mentor, I seek to reflect a genuine interest in others. Positioning myself to serve as Jesus starts by making myself available and using kindness and compassion in my approach. By planning to mostly listen and waiting to be asked to speak, I can help those I mentor understand their own challenges, ask deeper questions and help them come to better awareness. By speaking the truth, rooted in respect and love as Jesus did, the correct path can be illuminated, and clear direction achieved.
God gave us minds for thinking, emotions for feeling, wills for choosing and his Holy Spirit empower us to act in love. If we eliminate any one of these gifts, or rely on only one, the quality with which we reflect Christ may suffer. In our work, we should act concretely each day to bring hope, friendship and encouragement to the people we encounter.