One of the things I have been most grateful for in my life was the opportunity to be out in the workplace. Sometimes it was a chance to see behind the scenes, a glimpse into something of what it was like to be an owner of a large bakery, a professor, a doctor, a farmer, or an engineer. I could see a wide spectrum of life’s challenges in a day when I would go from providing child care for a toddler to housekeeping duties at the home of octagenarians. Later it was the opportunity to work with others in ensuring enough inventory for plant production. In our daily tasks, the work itself molded and shaped us.
The workplace offered opportunity to learn and grow, to learn coping skills from many different people. There was the company-sponsored Dale Carnegie course that pushed me past the fear of public speaking, the everyday contact with all kinds of people, the opportunity to attend employee seminars. A personality assessment seminar tagged me as among the “amiable” group. We value people first and work second, in contrast to the other personalities in my work environment who focused on the job first and people second, such as analytic or driver. It was helpful to know that when you worked together.
“Amiable” sounds like a good designation. You want a good team that’s happy to work together, that complements each other’s strengths. There are times, however, when there’s no getting around having to make some tough decisions and holding a firm line. As Lee, our operations manager, once chided when I was trying to keep everyone happy in my job as logistics coordinator: “This is not a popularity contest!” Because I like to make people laugh, my retort was “What? It’s not??” But Lee was a good man. He genuinely cared about doing things right, about doing his job well, more than he cared about people liking him. And often the kindest way to treat people is to be honest in your assessment of a situation, even when it initially may bring difficulties to the surface. If you are traveling, you want a mechanic who is painstakingly thorough in his assessment of the plane you will be flying on. If you are responsible for a group, you want to prayerfully consider input when making decisions.
I’m retired now, and any work is now volunteer work. But every day is still an opportunity to learn how to be kind and caring, honest and courageous. To do things conscientiously and well. Life itself is our workplace environment, and our task lifelong.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.” Colossians 3:23