The words we use in our places of work have the power either to bless or curse, to build others up or to tear them down. Our choice of words often has more power than we realize.
In the book of Numbers, we see that one of the chief roles of the Levites is invoking God's blessing. God ordains these words for the priestly blessing:
The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace. (Num. 6:24-26)
God blesses people in countless ways—spiritual, mental, emotional and material. But the focus here is on blessing people with words. Our good words become the moment of God's grace in the lives of others.
The blessings in Numbers 6:24-26 declare that God will "keep" you, be "gracious" to you and give you "peace." At work, our words can "keep" another person—that is, reassure, protect and support. Our words can be full of grace, making situations better than they otherwise would be.
Here are a few ways we can bless our co-workers through our words.
1) Express Welcome
Hospitality makes room for another person, right where he or she is at. How do you speak with people who approach you? Do co-workers and people you supervise feel they can ask you for help? Or do you take their struggles as a sign of incompetence? Our beliefs come through in how we communicate. We can be critical and impatient, or respectful. Our attitude should convey, "If you need help, come to me. I won't hold it against you."
2) Eliminate Blame Shifting
When failures happen at work, our tendency is to hide for fear of shame or other negative consequences. One easy way to hide is by shifting blame. Consider a work group that operates in a culture of blame. Rather than working together to fix problems, people spend all their time trying to blame others whenever problems arise. If your workplace is a culture of blame, it may not be your fault. Perhaps your boss is the blamer-in-chief. Even so, could a sacrifice by you foster a more open, collaborative spirit? The next time the boss starts to blame someone, imagine if you interjected and said, "I remember that I supported this idea the last time we talked about it, so I'm responsible as well." What if the time after that, two or three other people did the same thing along with you? Would that begin to make the blame game fall apart? Could you expect God's grace to take an active role through your sacrifice?
3) Reconcile Broken Relationships
Have you ever experienced weeks of tension with a co-worker? Your words can bring peace by restoring relationships that have been broken. For example, "I realize that things have gone wrong between us, but I want to find a way to have a good relationship again."
4) Be Careful Not to Judge
Of course, there are times we have to object, critique, correct, and perhaps punish others at work. Even so, we can choose whether to criticize the faulty action itself (and find solutions) or condemn the whole person.
5) Show Appreciation
When others do well, we can choose to praise instead of keeping silent. For some of us, this might risk our reputation or cool reserve.
Empowered by Christ
When we use our words to bless others, we do so knowing that we've been blessed in the same ways through our relationship with Jesus. Jesus welcomes us just as we are; makes us blameless–and therefore unafraid and unashamed–before himself and God; reconciles us to himself; and even describes us as "fearfully and wonderfully made." Because we enjoy his kindness and friendship, we are empowered to extend blessing to those around us.
The vision of the Theology of Work Project is that every Christian be equipped and committed for work as God intends. A Christian approach makes work more meaningful and productive, benefits society and the people we work with and for, gets us through the challenges we face on the job, draws people to Jesus, and brings glory to God. Find out more at https://www.theologyofwork.org.