Additional "Christ in the Cubicle" Articles


Published: 11/3/2012 2:45:15 PM


It's hard for me to understand how to be a team player at work....

For nine hours a day, I sit in a cubicle, usually silently working behind a computer monitor, running financial models and occasionally answering financial questions from management. It's an oftentimes tedious job, but also fulfilling and rewarding. And almost entirely solitary.

Sure, there are folks working around me. We have contact when necessary, on good days go to lunch or happy hour, but by and large we confine ourselves to our cubes or offices and go about our business.

So when my company began offering weekly professional growth seminars, I reluctantly signed up for the "Team Work in the Office" seminar. Reluctantly because 1) I feel like at this stage in our lives we should be adult enough to know how to work with each other and 2) so much of my job requires me to work independently, "team work" seems almost passé.

It was clear from the first 5 minutes that I was wrong about teamwork in the workplace. The instructor, via an incredibly slick presentation, opened my eyes to how important working not just alongside one another, but truly with one another really is.

This instructor stressed that the most important component of working as a team with others is trust. Building and maintaining trust with others is the single-most basic component of a successful work environment. The first way we can build trust, the instructor said, was to help others succeed. If you are helping others do their jobs well, then you will build trust within that relationship.

And this got me to thinking...God calls us to ‘love our neighbor’. That could mean helping our friends, family, fellow Christians and co-workers succeed. How have I helped my co-workers succeed? I wish it were as easy as simply pulling an example out of a hat and putting fingers to keyboard. As I thought through it, I had an epiphany of sorts: by working in harmony with others, helping when asked (and even without being asked), being positive, following through with promises....these are all ways that I can ensure the success of others.

It didn't strike me at first that being a team player was truly loving my neighbor. Following the presentation, I made a genuine effort to be a "team player", to help others succeed. When presented to me, it seemed so simple. But as I've often found with God's call to 'love our neighbor', it's not as simple as it sounds.

Since the presentation there has been conflict (to be discussed in a further blog), disagreements, and regrettably some of it is entirely on my shoulders. What if someone is truly difficult to work with? How do I ensure that they succeed? As I have found since the workshop, I've not been very good at ensuring their success. Instead, I fall back into the comfortable realm of talking behind their back and begrudging the help I give them. Sometimes working together and striving toward the success of others feels like an impossible task. Certainly impossible for me on my own.

Thankfully, I am not alone. I know that despite my faults working in teams, ensuring that others succeed, and putting others before myself – God continues to work through me and in Christ, forgives me when I fail. God desires to help me love my neighbor. With God's guidance I can strive to work with a purpose and show God’s love to others by being an integral part of their success. And not merely monetary success; fulfilling work, enjoyment, satisfaction...these are all things that we desire from our jobs. I will continue to fail, and God will continue to forgive me in Christ. As I work to ensure the success of my coworkers I am really working for the Lord.

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24

So maybe I am a team player after all....