Posted by: Mike Willoughby | December 14, 2009

Office Peace

I’m sure many of you enjoy the popular television comedy, The Office.  The show is a mockumentary, filmed in the style of a documentary with a single camera without a studio audience or laugh track.  The documentary style is intended to create a sense of reality even though the show clearly spoofs the traditional American business workplace.  Although the characters are written to be over-the-top especially the clueless branch manager, Michael and the power-hungry sycophant assistant manager, Dwight, it is amazing how often the scripting hits close to the mark of reality.  I suppose one of the things that makes The Office so popular is how it resonates with each of us that work in an office environment while remaining over-the-top enough to keep us in our comfort zone where our toes are not stepped on directly.

One of the show’s supporting themes that can hit a little too close for comfort involves the destructive inter-personal relationships and office politics that plague the little office.  It seems that the characters derive great satisfaction from stabbing each other in the back and creating relationship destruction even when they don’t personally benefit from the chaos they generate.  You’ve all probably had some experience with this type of back-stabbing political operator in the office; perhaps even unfortunate personal experience.   However, we are called to be very distinctively different from this type of toxic individual.  We are called by our faith to be people of peace in every area of our lives including in our workplaces.

I like the Hebrew definition of peace best.  The Hebrew word for peace is shalom and it carries the meaning of a deep seated sense of well-being and balance leading to contentment and a feeling of being centered.  Building on the definition of shalom, we should be seeking to have workplace relationships that are centered, balanced and where there is a sense of well-being within that relationship.  I know that would lead to less drama and excitement in the workplace, but perhaps we could find another source of drama and excitement that is healthier for our souls!

Many folks have the misconception that peace equals the lack of conflict.  Conflict is a natural and necessary part of every relationship and simply means that there is a difference of opinion that needs to be addressed.  The presence of conflict in a relationship does not dictate whether that relationship is in a state of shalom peace or in a state of discord and violence.  Our faithful commitment to peace will guide us in handling conflict in our relationships and will help determine the state of our relationships.  Our commitment to our faith will lead us all to seek after peaceful relationships wherever possible. 

In Romans chapter 12, the apostle Paul provides an overview of what an everyday Christian looks like.  I encourage each of you to read Romans 12 and perform a little self-assessment test.  Included in that chapter is the following passage.

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

Notice that Paul specifies some conditions for his peace-keeping instructions.  He acknowledges that peace may not always be possible since the road to peace is two-way.  Sometimes folks are bent on making things difficult and will not live in peace regardless of how much of an effort you make to sooth the relationship.  Paul acknowledges this reality and adds the following instructions.

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

In cases where someone simply will not live in peace with you including those complex office political situations which seem to have no solution, give the problem to God.  Pray about it and release whatever negative emotions and feelings of hostility and revenge that may threaten to poison your soul.  Continue to show agape love to the person and maintain the presence of the Lord in their life.  Then let God do the rest.

We can all put this lesson into practice in our everyday lives.  I will be focused on bringing peace to my office relationships this week.  However, some of you are extra-gifted in this area.  For those of you that are natural peace-makers, I will have an installment next week to praise and encourage you.   

Until next week,

Meet me at the intersection!


Responses

  1. Thank you for your last two posts.

    It’s so easy to get caught up in the “world around you” and for many us our world can be work as we spend majority of our day at the office.

    Recently, I had to stop myself dead in the my tracks and ask,” Julie, why are you thinking like that and why are you so focused on something you have no control over? Aren’t there more positive and productive things to think about?” Satan can do that- without you even realizing it creep into your head and fill it with either lies or just plain nonsense-things that are really not worth spending your time thinking about.

    So now, I am learning to think about what I am actually thinking about (with the help of Joyce Meyer’s, Battlefield of the Mind. I am learning how to control my thoughts and turn them away from those things that are not productive in a positive way. Learning/practicing how to line up my thinking with God and His Word; so thank you for your posts- it helps me to give thought and study to what I am receiving.

    Still a work in progress, but I hear practice makes perfect.

  2. Thank you, Michael. I’ve been struggling with that “contentment” thing this week. Trying to deal with a situation where a blessing occured but it wasn’t as good as it might have been and my contentment level was definitely not where it needs to be. You’ve caused me to re-evaluate and be thankful for the blessing that was provided!
    Shalom Brother,
    Steve

  3. thanks for the lesson, as you are familiar with the daily stress I often face at my job… also for the background info on “shalom”, I love that!

    Later bro, Jason


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