We all know the value of having a good manager and many of us are striving to be good managers here in the City. But how does being a Christian affect our work as managers? What does it mean to be a godly manager? In the first of two blogs on management, we asked Alexis, who used to be a manager here in the City, to share her thoughts on this question.
Let me start off by saying that management is not easy. And neither is being a Christian in the workplace. Being a godly manager is tough, but it's worth the struggle if it points people to Christ and helps us to grow in His image.
To begin with, every manager starts off as an employee. Whether we're a new grad or the CEO, Ephesians 6:5 (ESV) calls all of us to "obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ”. Being a godly manager starts with being godly employee, showing respect and obedience to our own managers and teams, as we would to Christ and our brothers and sisters at church. By being a godly employee, we will also be modeling godly service to those who look to us for leadership and guidance.
Second, every Christian manager is also a sinner who's been saved by the grace of Christ who died for our sins. As a manager and a sinner, we are bound to make mistakes in management. People and business are complicated and we will get it wrong sometimes; when we do, we should confess and repent. 1 Peter 5:5 (ESV) reminds us to "Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” You will be amazed at how powerful a witness for God, and how effective a manager, this can make you. Saying "I'm sorry" or "I was wrong" will go a long way, especially if we've hurt or offended someone we manage, in being reconciled and restoring a good working relationship.
Third, as Christians who have been forgiven by God's grace, we are also called to be managers marked by grace. The people who work for us will make mistakes too. How we respond will be a key moment for godly management. When an error occurs or a problem arises, take time out with this colleague (in private) to try to work through why the problem arose, how it can be rectified and what can be done to avoid a reoccurrence. Then, forgive them, and do not hold the incident over them as punishment for the future. Paul particularly warns managers in Ephesians 6:9 (ESV) to "stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him". This may also be a great opportunity to share with our colleague how much God has forgiven us in Christ, and the grace that compels us to forgive them in turn.
At this point, if you are a manager with a particularly difficult colleague, you may be thinking "But I can't just sweep it under the carpet. I can forgive but I can't just let this go on." Godly management will also require staff discipline and speaking the truth in love. It is not godly or loving to pretend everything is fine when there is a serious problem. In these instances, we are encouraged as Christians to speak the truth in love so that our colleagues may have an opportunity to take the issue to heart and change. If the problem reflects serious moral failures, we may also be required to pursue justice and make right what has been wronged.
Finally, if you're a Christian manager, God has given you amazing resources to equip you for the hard job before you. He's given each of us the gift of prayer so we can pray for godliness at work and for our colleagues to know the salvation He offers. He's given us the church and the City Partnership ministry to help us in our struggle to fight sin and temptation. And most importantly He's given us the Holy Spirit who helps us in our time of need and His Son Jesus who has been the perfect godly manager for us and who promises us eternity with Him and an inheritance that will never perish, spoil, or fade.