The Romans 12 Employee HandbookBlog / Produced by The High Calling
How do you make your workday fruitful and serve God at the same time? Should you focus primarily on doing quality work? Should you try to strengthen relationships with coworkers? Should you only speak in scriptural parables?
Sure, the Bible is a treasure trove of wisdom, but sometimes biblical examples seem more applicable to life two thousand years ago. Yet when Paul writes the 12th chapter of his letter to the Romans, his advice on relating to Roman society contains some practical tips for today. Fifteen practical tips, in fact. Consider it a handy condensed employee handbook for modern working Christians.
1. Love must be sincere. (12:9a)
(Whom do you need to sincerely love at work? If no one comes to mind, start with the legal department.)
2. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. (9b)
(Don't allow everything to fall into that nebulous moral gray area. Know your right from your wrong, and follow the right path consistently.)
3. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. (10a)
(It's tempting to only relate superficially to coworkers. After all, it's not like they're family. On the other hand, name a family member that you spend eight-plus waking hours a day with.)
4. Honor one another above yourselves. (10b)
(Seek out opportunities to give your teammates credit for their good work. It's unlikely that you did every project, presentation, and paper all by yourself. Even Jesus delegated important tasks.)
5. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. (11)
(On Monday morning, "zeal" may not be your predominant attitude. But it's a lot easier to be zealous when you see work as worship.)
6. Share with God's people who are in need. (13a)
(Who among your fellow Christian coworkers needs encouragement? And be careful you aren't only "encouraging" people who are in a position to promote you. That kind of encouragement is called something else.)
7. Practice hospitality. (13b)
(Think of every day as the office Christmas party, and you're the host. How would your workday be different if you worked hard to make sure everyone was comfortable, well-fed, and having a good time?)
8. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. (14)
(Find ways to bless those who criticize you, see you as competition, or just derive some strange pleasure by making others unhappy. You can take some comfort knowing that these types of jerks have been around since Roman times.)
9. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. (15)
(Be so sensitive to your coworkers that you are attuned to their life events. Simply attending the birthday cake cutting in the conference room doesn't count.)
10. Live in harmony with one another. (16a)
(Pointing out the shortcomings of someone else's work may make you feel superior, but helping create an environment where you and your colleagues get along will have much longer term benefits.)
11. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. (16b)
(Don't spend your workday angling for your next promotion. Do your best work right here.)
12. Do not be conceited. (16c)
(Don't think of yourself more highly than you ought. God cares more about your heart than your employee-of-the-month plaque.)
13. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. (17a)
(Every day brings a million opportunities for offense. Instead, have an attitude of grace—even when someone drains the last drop of coffee and doesn't make another pot.)
14. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. (17b)
(While God's opinion trumps all, your coworkers expect "good" people to act a certain way. Doing right by your coworkers may be the best way to get their attention.)
15. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (18)
(Don't pick fights. Especially not with anyone in the legal department.)
Paul amplifies his last instruction, urging us to overcome evil with good. As a result, we set ourselves apart from society and point others to Christ.
Those are great ideals. But where do you find the strength, courage, and discipline to do these on a daily basis?
Paul provides guidance here too. In the midst of all these instructions for interacting with others, he calls the Romans—and us—to follow three inward, personal activities: "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer" (12).
Take strength from the hope we have in Christ, persevere even when it's challenging, and actively pray to keep your own zeal. In the process, you may even make some friends in the legal department.