"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened." ~Matthew 7:7-8
"I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs." ~Frederick Douglass
A man (we'll call him "Fred") had approached me after a meeting to speak to me further about the role of faith in organizational settings. I could tell that he was uncomfortable amidst the lingering group, so we stepped off into a vacant conference room to speak privately.
"Cris, how can you live your faith so openly in business settings?," he opened.
"Well, Fred, I strive to conduct all of my affairs consistently, regardless of the setting. So, I guess I don't really notice the difference between the business setting and all other settings, " I replied.
Fred's face betrayed his consternation, and then he stammered out, "But aren't you afraid you're going to offend someone?! I mean, I've seen you speak openly not only with our employees but also with our clients." Now I understood more about the basis of his concern.
I paused for a moment and then calmly replied, "Yes, Fred, I am concerned about offending Someone...God." I continued, "Each of us has been endowed by our Creator with certain gifts, often mastered through great effort on our part, often undertaken solely on our faith or the faith of our loved ones. Some of us are great lawyers, doctors and engineers, while others of us are great welders, longshoremen and meat packers. God's love for us and investment in us have absolutely nothing to do with our earning capacity, but have everything to do with how our lives can influence and improve the lives of our fellow men and women through our service to them."
Fred interjected, "But, Cris, let's be realistic--not everyone believes in the same God as you and I. What if they think you're imposing your views upon them? Aren't you afraid to lose their business?"
"Fred, that's the funny thing about my experience with the role of faith in professional situations...everyone believes in something. Whether I'm coaching an individual or facilitating a team building leadership exercise, I incorporate the principles that also undergird various faiths. If you observe closely, then you will notice that I only introduce the specifics of faith when the other person opens the door.
"Nearly every day, a colleague, a client or a waitress at a restaurant will invoke faith in the context of a conversation. Just as likely in the supermarket line and the pharmacy, as well. I simply remain open to the discussion, never offering more than is being asked for." I paused, sensing that Fred wished to offer a response.
"Now that you mention it, Cris, your principles are universal...and I have seen you speak of God in response to an other's invocation. Never consciously realized the subtlety before," Fred concluded.
"I'm thankful you approached me about your concern. As people of faith, we have an obligation to give our best effort each day, consistently, regardless of our locale. And, further, when the door opens to a deeper discussion with another, we can prayerfully thank God for the opportunity to serve Him through out chosen vocation. I'll be interested to hear how that works for you the next time I'm in town, Fred..."
TODAY'S QUESTION: Are you able to authentically incorporate your faith--regardless of which faith you adhere to--into your chosen vocation and career to achieve consistency of character?