How to Love Your Work and Your Coworkers
I am in charge of 32 English teachers in the second largest high school in New Jersey, and it is my honor to serve those teachers as their "boss." It is a standing joke that my colleagues call me boss now and again because they know how much this term annoys me, and how it defines the opposite of who I am, and how I treat the people who have been entrusted to my care and evaluation.
A new teacher found me in the hall on the first day of school in September, and she enthusiastically stopped me. "Chris, I have to tell you something. I woke up this morning, jumped out of bed, threw my arms in the air and said 'I'm a teacher!' " She knew I would be delighted for her.
One of my top senior teachers said to me the other day, "Chris, I am blessed with my students, each day." He knew I was eager to hear such words of joy.
The oldest teacher in the department read aloud for his students a section of the book To Kill a Mockingbird with such passion and goodness, and then he said to his students, "Good people, do you see how Atticus tried to help Tom Robinson because of his deep sense of what was right?" I left a note in this man's mailbox that said, "How lucky the students are to have you as their teacher."
I have found over the years that the best teachers know their subject matter, deeply care about the academic and social success of their students, and have a personality of confidence and goodness. Valuable qualities no matter what we do for a living.
Do the people beside you love their work? Does the person in the next cubical care deeply about the clients? Can you recognize each person in the sales force as an individual with a unique personality of goodness, talent, and will?
Healthy professional relationships involve dialogue. People who work for a common cause need to talk to each other—whether that common cause is making money, designing cars, teaching children, or painting buildings. When we love what we do and love the people we work with, we build better products, create better innovations, and return to our homes each day with a sense that we made a difference in the world.
Above all else that was written in the Bible stand the words Christ said when he summarized the law and the prophets. The religious leaders asked, "What is the greatest commandment?" His answer? “Love God. Love one another."
In our professional world, we need to love the people beside us. We need to avoid jealousy, competition, and backstabbing and submit to the labor relations that are entwined in love. A team of people can understand each other's strengths and weaknesses. A team of people can share their dreams, sorrows, faith, and their fears. When a team works in a life-giving environment, our labor is rewarded with more than a paycheck. We are also rewarded with a sense that our time together was holy and significant.
Ask yourself each day, "Was I a good employee of God today?" Ask yourself "Have I enriched the life of my coworker today to strengthen our professional relationship?"
We work best in a place where we feel we are valued. We work best in a place where we feel we are part of a supportive, loving team. We work best when we know that we are not alone.
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