Additional "Christ in the Cubicle" Articles


At The Water Cooler
Published: 9/4/2012 1:19:39 PM


The scenario is one that has played itself out on many, many occasions. It takes place in one of our workspaces. A cubicle or an office, maybe a conference room. One or more of us sitting around. Chatting. Taking a break. Water cooler discussions. Wasting time.

Call it whatever you will; for my sanity, this is an entirely necessary part of the workday. To be able to step away from my 8’ x 8’ box and socialize for five or ten minutes is a perk of my job--a perk that I have never taken for granted.

Quite honestly, these moments are usually spent discussing work, anyhow. The conversation may start with weekend recaps, sports, or politics, but nearly always end up landing on something work related. I actually think that most of the strategic decisions in our group have been made during time generally reserved for mindless chatter. Productivity can be achieved even away from the computer monitor, I guess.

As I parked myself on a co-worker's desk one morning, the conversation drifted to a topic that these conversations often drift to: another co-worker. I will be honest, this conversation was not what could be considered a positive discussion. As we sat there bemoaning our common interactions with this other co-worker, painting this co-worker in the worst light possible, a co-worker neither of us has ever even met face-to-face, it occurred to me that as likely as these water cooler moments are to turn into strategic meetings, maybe they are as likely to turn into full-on sin.

The realization startled me as I began to think about this conversation. Until this blog, I'd never even considered how often I have engaged in this type of discussion, truly breaking the eighth commandment against bearing false witness. Throughout my tenure at my current firm, and my tenures at all the previous firms I've worked for, the only common trait seems to be bad mouthing co-workers. A conservative estimate would...well...I'm ashamed to even provide a conservative estimate of how many times this type of conversation has occurred over the years. Too often, my words have disparaged the individual those words have been directed at, including times at my own desk in front of a cross with Philippians 4:13--"I can do all things through Him who strengthens me"--staring at me. Hypocrisy personified.

This is something I have struggled with mightily. There are a multitude of excuses I could make and have made for disparaging the names and reputations of my co-workers. Many of the individuals only have names, but not faces. The

fact is that throughout the day most interactions with these individuals take place via email or telephone. Perhaps if these individuals had faces, it would be easier to speak positively about them. In some instances, frustration with these other co-workers has been warranted: missed deadlines, broken promises, lack of communication. At times, individuals that I have relied upon have let me down. My frustration is warranted. Daily life in "corporate America” is filled with this behavior. Hey...if everybody else is taking about everybody else behind their backs... Bringing a person down by defaming that individual is never warranted for any reason. The eighth commandment requires us all to protect the names and reputations of our neighbors, including our co-workers.

This is something I honestly desire to change about my workplace behavior. The hypocrisy of the transition from discussing my weekend--including Sunday morning worship--to talking down a co-worker with another co-worker is self-evident: now, but not always. I've always asked God to make me a positive Christian witness to others around me, and yet, I've always felt that engaging in this type of conversation was warranted. My prayer now is that God forgives me of this behavior, and strengthens me to stop defaming and slandering my co-workers. With God's help, I know that the Holy Spirit will continually work to fight against this sin in me.

In moments of frustration with others, I pray that God will help me to communicate with those individuals directly, with the aim of working in harmony. Though I will not always succeed, I know that in Christ I have an advocate, someone who will always help me in times of stress to work with others in harmony and to protect their reputations with other co-workers. Through Him, I have the strength to try again each day, though Him I have forgiveness when I don’t.

After all, I have a cross on my wall telling me so.


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