Recently I’ve been in some conversations around what it takes to be successful in the workplace, and it always seems people have different ideas as to what it takes. Some say it’s important to manage your image, others say it’s simply hard work that helps you rise to the top. However, I’ve seen (and experienced) how people may excel in these (and other) areas, but still not experience the kind of success that they strive for. So what does it take?
As I continue looking for wisdom from the Proverbs, I come to Proverbs 3:7-8 where we’re taught:
Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshment to your bones.
Whoa… sweet! It says, “It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.”
There seems to be a fullness to this benefit. The bones are on the inside of our bodies, and the flesh on the outside. So there is this inside-out, or a whole person, benefit to following these ideas.
What’s the “it” that is being referred to here?
Well, “it” is the behavior that’s mentioned prior to this statement. That means that if we do “X,” then “Y” will happen. Biblical “if/then” statements are always easy for us to figure out and apply.
In order to get this promised benefit of complete health and restoration (or success), we must first apply a few key ideas. These are our secrets to success…
- Be not wise in your own eyes – At first glance this might seem like a statement about having a self-centered perspective. However, I think this idea goes deeper than simply how we view ourselves. It speaks more to the idea of having wisdom. If you look at yourself and see a wise person, then you’re likely to rest on your laurels. Wisdom is a process, and the greatest wisdom may be knowing that you don’t know everything. The key idea here would be that we need to be passionate about learning, and never think we know all we need to know.
- Fear the LORD – This is something that’s difficult to apply sometimes in the workplace, but often because it’s a statement that’s misunderstood. The word used for fear here is yare’ (pronounced yaw-ray’), and while it literally translates as fear, it contains this idea of reverence, respect, and honor. It means that we are to stand in awe. The key idea is that we can’t forget that God is the God of our workplace. We serve human bosses, but we stand in awe of a powerful, loving God. Let God work in your workplace, and pay Him the respect and reverence that He deserves there.
- Turn away from evil – This is an easy one, but worth saying a couple of different ways. Maintain your integrity. Never compromise your values. Stand up for goodness and decency. Help those in need, and honor your leaders. Resist any urge to act in any way that wouldn’t glorify God. What we stand for is the witness that we leave for others. We should stand strong for righteousness, not sit comfortably and turn the other way when ungodliness rises up. Please understand that I am not talking about Bible-thumping our co-workers, but I am talking about doing the right things with a high moral standard.
Bringing God into the workplace doesn’t have to be this preachy, holier-than-thou kind of thing that usually turns people off. But it does mean that you stand for high moral and ethical standards, that you continue to recognize and honor the One that you truly work for, and that you never stop growing. Do these things, and you will experience success and the fullness of health and restoration in the workplace.
See more from the management by God series!
Dan, Wonderful article!
Your “inside-out” picture breathed new life into my understanding of this verse:
“There seems to be a fullness to this benefit. The bones are on the inside of our bodies, and the flesh on the outside. So there is this inside-out, or a whole person, benefit to following these ideas.”
I have to smile as I think about your “if we do “X,” then “Y” will happen” statement. Sometimes we define the “Y” very differently than our God does. Your 3 points are rock-solid advice to seeing God’s work done through our hands. Thanks, Dan.
I’ve always loved doing this kind of study and application of the Scriptures! There is SO much in there that we can unfold and allow it to breathe new life into ANY situation that we’re in. That was actually why I started writing this whole [management by God] series… because I saw Christians in the workplace, but not Christ…
Thanks for the thoughts and encouragement Mari! You rock!