Working for the Joy of Others (2 Corinthians 1:24)
Joy is the next means of building relationships that Paul discusses. “I do not mean to imply that we lord it over your faith; rather we are workers with you for your joy, because you stand firm in the faith” (2 Cor. 1:24). Even though he was an apostle with God-given authority, Paul brought joy to others by the way he led them—not lording it over them but working alongside them. This explains why he was such an effective leader and why the people associated with him became strong and reliable co-workers. Paul’s words echo what Jesus said to his disciples when they were arguing about who among them was the greatest:
The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. (Luke 22:25–26)
The essence of Christian work, Paul maintains, is nothing less than working alongside others to help them attain greater joy.
What would our workplaces look like if we tried to bring others joy through the way we treat them? This does not mean trying to make everyone happy all the time, but treating co-workers as people of value and dignity, as Paul did. When we pay attention to others’ needs at work, including the need to be respected and the need to be entrusted with meaningful work, we follow Paul’s own example.
Dennis W. Bakke, Joy at Work: A Revolutionary Approach to Fun on the Job (Seattle: PVG, 2005), and Raymond Bakke, William Hendricks, and Brad Smith, Joy at Work Bible Study Companion (Lake Mary, FL: Charisma House, 2005) explore this question in detail.