What could happen in the workplace if Christians in business had a generational, relational ax to sharpen instead of one to grind?
“If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed, but skill will bring success.” ~ Ecclesiastes 10:10
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Have you ever tried dicing veggies, filleting a fish, or carving a Thanksgiving turkey with a kitchen tool that is as dull as a butter knife? Doesn’t work too well does it? It may get the job done but not without extra time, energy, and much mess and mutilation involved!
This is a great word picture of how many approach the generational challenges that exist in the workplace.
Instead of trying to understand what has shaped an employee or co-worker from a different generation, and seeking to leverage their unique perspectives, strengths and skills, there are a lot of dull knives making big messes – that mutilate relationships, work culture / enjoyment, and productivity. – not to mention the testimony of Christ!
For those of us who claim to be followers of Christ and seek to influence work associates, team members, clients, and the vendors we serve through our products, services, and ministries, this just shouldn’t happen!
Accept Others as Christ Has Accepted You!
Consider the depth and pointedness of Paul’s instruction to those who have experienced the power of God’s grace and redemption themselves:
“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you.” ~ Romans 15:7
“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” ~ Romans 14:19
Acceptance Doesn’t Mean Endorsement
I know a millennial who was radically impacted by an older mentor in the marketplace. Clint had inadvertently stood his mentor up for not just one early morning appointment, but two – in a row!
Did the mentor dismiss Clint’s act of standing him up – in other words “endorse” his behavioral oversight – by saying something like, “Don’t worry about it, it’s no big deal?”
Of course not. He didn’t endorse Clint’s mistake, but with great wisdom, he replied
“How could we, whom Christ has forgiven so much, fail to look past such a trivial inconvenience. Let me check my schedule and check back with you.”
That’s acceptance, without endorsement. That’s seeking peace and mutual edification instead of mutilation in a relationship.
As a result of the mentor’s sharpened relational ax, Clint’s relationship with God, others, and even his world-view of work was impacted.
4 Reasons Why Younger Generations Have Quit Church
According to some great resources such as UnChristian by Gabe Lyons and David Kinnaman and Why Nobody Wants To Go To Church Anymore by Thom & Joani Schultz, there are 4 reasons why younger generations have quit church, and here is how they are articulated.
1. “I Feel Judged”
This is not only reflective of younger generations. 87% of Americans, in general, label Christians as judgmental.
2. “I Don’t Want to Be Lectured”
Gabe and Lyons also state that millennials (those born between 1984 and 2002) “want to have discussions, but they perceive Christians as unwilling to engage in genuine dialogue.”
3. “Church People Are a Bunch of Hypocrites”
85% feel church people are hypocrites.
4. “Your God is Irrelevant to My Life”
Pause for a moment. What is your first reaction to these statements are to these statements?
Are your anger embers stirred at all? Is there a hidden recess in your mind that questions “Really?” Or, is there a drill sergeant gene awakened within you to shout, (as a grocery store General Manager friend of has joked about thinking sometimes when hearing some of the complaints voiced by younger generations), “Just suck it up buttercup!?”
I can see the truth within some of the statements. For example, church people are a bunch of hypocrites. I’m one of them. I don’t always walk the talk in the way I desire. However, I can also relate to some of the thoughts and feelings mentioned above.
The question is, how can Christians help change such perspectives, regardless of what generation gives voice to them?
It won’t happen by responding with anger or frustration. “The anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” (James 1:20). It won’t happen with accusatory or judgmental questions, criticisms or complaints. Further, according to the authors mentioned above, for many, it won’t happen as a result of such individuals attending church.
Transformation Can / Is Happening!
But it CAN happen and IS happening in the marketplace setting when there are believers (like Clint’s and his mentor) who are endeavoring to:
- Be intentional about understanding the real generational differences that exist, but who sharpen their relational axes to bring about mutual edification vs. mutilation
- Seek to accept those differences (and even failures) without endorsing them (just as Christ has done for them)
- Model the balance of grace and love, with truth
- Seek to learn from the strengths of others (younger and older) and also proactively share theirs.
This is what it means to “make disciples of all nations.” And we GET to do it in the place where we spend the majority of our waking hours WITH people of multiple generations!
Written by Dan Anderson, President/CEO of Kingdom Way Ministries. kingdomwayministries.net Used with permission. All rights reserved. Content distributed by WorkLife.org > used for non-profit teaching purposes only.