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Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord and not for people.” (Colossians 3:23 TEV)
In our daily living, how do we carry out what St Paul tells us to do? Do whatever we are doing with all our heart? Our heart must come into whatever we are doing. Our heart must be in the center of what we are doing! How? How to put our heart into our work? There is always the danger that we may do whatever work we are doing just for the sake of the work. It is our work. No more. But if we do it for Christ we will do it more conscientiously and with our heart in it as well. We must work as though we are working for the Lord and not for people. We, as Christians, must put in that extra---heart---into what we are doing.
Just by giving that warm smile we will be putting our heart into our work! See how Mother Teresa tells us, “A smile must always be on our lips for any child to whom we offer help, for any to whom we give companionship or medicine. It would be very wrong to offer only our cures; we must offer to all our heart.” (A Gift for God, 52)
Take another daily living example. How can we put our heart into our “Thank you” for the service that people give us? Give them not only the routine “Thank you” but also putting our heart into the “Thank you.” How? By treating the individual as a person and by looking into the person’s eyes, smiling warmly and showing kindness in our expression. This is what Mother Teresa advises us to do:
“Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness:
· kindness in your face,
· kindness in your eyes,
· kindness in your smile,
· kindness in your warm greeting.
In the slums we are the light of God’s kindness to the poor. To children, to the poor, to all who suffer and are lonely, give always a happy smile. Give them not only your care, but also your heart.” (A Gift for God, 52)
When we meet people, how do we greet them? “Good morning” “Good day” “Good night” “How are you?” Nice to meet you” Do we greet them perfunctorily? Do we give an insincere smiling greeting? Is our greeting genuine? Do our greetings come from our hearts that are warm and sincere?
It is wonderful to notice how Mother Teresa demonstrates, with insightful and practical gestures, her love and compassion to a person who hungers for bread or hungers for love. When asked by a journalist:
"Mother Teresa, how can you preach the Gospel to someone whose stomach is empty?"
"There are various ways of doing it. It can be done this way...." (Mother Teresa stands up, extends her hands, and draws them back quickly. It is the gesture of a person who gives charity in a hasty, impersonal way.) "Or this way...." (She holds her hands together like a cup and extends them with compassion and tenderness. It is the gesture of a person who give charity with compassion and love.) "There is a hunger for bread and a hunger for love. Some are naked because of alack of clothing and some are naked because of a lack of human dignity. Jesus said: 'I was hungry and you gave me to eat. I was sick and you visited me. I was abandoned and you consoled me'." (Teresa of Calcutta, 165)
These are but simple matters in our daily living. They make life a little better and they are vitally important to our spiritual life. As it is an attitude of seeing the “stranger” as a fellow human being and treating him as person with courtesy, consideration and hospitality. It is in effect fulfilling Jesus saying, “inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me' (Matthew 26:40 NKJV).
However, we are aware that any insincerity or a bogus kindness will be spotted and should be avoided. How then to develop the genuine attitude? We need a complete change in our mindset. What this means is that we see everything we do as though we are doing it for the Lord Jesus Christ and to Jesus. How?
We must constantly pray over the work we do. And if we constantly pray over the work, we know that the work is done together with Jesus and cared for by Jesus. We need to pray to Jesus to give us the enthusiasm, zest and passion to carry out the work that is set out for us. If we work together with Jesus we will do much better work. We will do our best. We will do the work more cheerfully. The work will not be tiresome or burdensome. We will be more assured of what we are doing. We will take the time to prepare more thoroughly and to do our very best as we pray that we do not spoil His work. And when we work with Jesus our work will be for Jesus. For Jesus to strengthen us with courage and determination to carry out the work wholeheartedly, we have to put ourselves under His influence, His prompting, His guidance and His leading through constant prayer. As Mother Teresa says:
“Have I really learned to pray the work? Maybe I have never learned to pray the work because the whole time my mind is ‘work.’ Here are words that will help you: ‘With Jesus, for Jesus, to Jesus.’” (Contemplative at the Heart of the World, 113)
“We must join our prayer with work. We try to bring this across to our sisters by inviting them to make their work a prayer. How is it possible to change one’s work into a prayer? Work cannot be substituted for prayer. Nevertheless, we can learn to make work a prayer. How can we do this? By doing our work with Jesus and for Jesus. That is the way to make our work a prayer. It is possible that I may not be able to keep my attention fully on God while I work, but God doesn’t demand that I do so. Yet I can fully desire and intend that my work be done with Jesus and for Jesus. This is beautiful and that is what God wants. He wants our will and our desire to be for Him, for our family, for our children, for our brethren, and for the poor.” (A Life for God, 12)
But, how do we translate doing our best into our working life? I see roughly two situations that are of major importance---one when we are the subordinates and the other when we are the managers or supervisors. When we are the subordinates we must learn to manage the supervisors and when we are the managers we must learn to manage all the resources at our disposal. How?
I. Managing our Boss (immediate supervisor)
Agenda ---To obtain the best results for our company, our boss and ourselves. This is not for political maneuvering or for apple polishing.
Purpose---To make our boss trust us so that he gives us more elbow room to do our work in the way we do best.
Procedure---To achieve that, we have to systematically work at the following Do’s and Don’ts.
Acronym ---L U C U S is the Boss
(1) Look for ways to help him
a) Make him look good
b) What do I do that hampers him and to remedy it.
c) In what key areas does he need my support?
d) How can I ease his burden?
e) What is it that he finds difficult to do and how can I help?
(2) Understand his modus operandi
a) His likes and his dislikes
b) His strengths and his weaknesses
c) His needs and his wants
d) His work habits--allow him to boast about his success or hobbies, even when we are pressed for time to finish our schedule
e) His time allocation----respect his time
f) His priorities
g) His objectives and goals
(3) Cater to his communication preferences
a) If he is a listener, brief him and then follow up with a memo.
b) If he is a reader, put our proposals in a report and then discuss them with him.
c) Detailed or condensed form
d) Keep him informed
e) See him in the morning, afternoon or late evening
f) Break the ice by talking about his hobbies or sport
g) Ask him what he likes to do
(4) Use him as a resource
a) We are dumb not to consult him on important issues and major problems
b) We are learning and communicating when we ask him for help where we are unclear or uncertain of the methods of work that he wants.
c) Allow him to point out our mistakes and to guide us as a mentor
d) Touch base with him every now and then
(5) Support his success
a) Contribute to his achievements
b) See him as an ally
c) Make him as effective and as achieving as possible
d) Appreciate his pressures and goals
e) Focus to provide solutions for problems
(6) Build a cooperative relationship with him
a) Foster credibility with him by being reliable even in small matters
b) Have integrity---don’t shade the truth and play down issues
c) Cultivate good manners as they are the lubricating oil that smoothes over friction
d) Show proper respect for him and his position
e) Overrate him rather than undervalue him
f) Assume that he has the talent and accomplishments to rise to his current position
g) Allow him to talk incessantly about his successes even if our work piles up
h) Make him feel good---we invariably like the people who boost our self-esteem.
a) Surprise him
b) Be at odds with his priorities and objectives
c) Assumed too much but clarify with him
d) Hide problems from him
e) Fit him into any preconceived mould
f) Ever run him down with people in the office
g) Catch him at a bad time
h) Be brash and confrontational in discussing issues with him
i) Be too proud to say that we do not know and ask for help from him
j) Concentrate too hard to impress---we will end up working too hard and too long
k) Lose our cool with him
(You may like to read the Harvard Business Review article, “Managing Your Boss,” in my web site http://www.geocities.com/lauho08 under the Heading “Work”)
II. Managing all our Resources
When we are the manager, we need to constantly ask ourselves how to make our products or services better, cheaper and faster, without compromising safety and quality. We need to have a mind that constantly looks for alternative solutions. There is no such thing as “no solution,” only a more intensive search for answers. We use all our faculties to monitor and evaluate systematically how the scarce resources (10 MIT) that are under our care are utilised.
So we channel our resources into areas that produce the best results:
1) Use the eyes (observe) and the mind (discern) to assess
a) The 5M of On-site Performance
Machinery---Sufficient? Functioning? Breakdown?
Material ---Ordered? Arrived? Shortage?
Manpower ---Sufficient? Idle? Shiftwork?
Mess ---Rubbish? Co-ordinated? Re-work?
Mock-up ---Bugs? Tested? Mass produced?
b) The 5M of Management Performance
Managers ---Experienced? Focussed? Key tasks?
Method ---Queue? Sequence right? Bottleneck?
Millstone ---Accountability? Strife? Roadblock?
Market --- Feedback? Wanted? Modified?
Money ---Allocation? Cash-Flow? Unpaid?
c) Information ---Available? Accurate? Honest?
d) Time ---Concentrated? Diverted? Busy work?
2) Use the mouth to ask questions
What do you think?
What is new?
3) Use the ears to listen
Listen to what is said
" " " " not said
" " the tone
" " the pitch
" " the hesitancies
" between the lines
4) Use our feelings to sense
Get a feel for the place
Sense the pace
" " tempo
" " bustle
" " mood
5) Use our intuition to affirm
Trust our intuition
" " gut feeling
We use our 10 MIT skills systematically and follow through quickly to ensure effective actions are taken promptly.
Yes, we could desire to do everything we do as though we are doing it for the Lord Jesus Christ. We can go the extra mile, making clients and staff feel appreciated and valued, walking in love despite nasty people, etc. We give our heart to our work and we do our best, yet we may be bypassed for promotion. Do we get bitter? Plot revenge? Imprisoned by frustration? An eye for an eye? Do we harbour resentment after all the best effort that we have put in? Quit? Do we accept the disappointment and pain as opportunities to grow as people and trust that Jesus will enable us to go through them patiently and bravely? How should we respond? That’s where constantly praying over the work comes into play. How?
The joyful result of constantly praying over the work is that we know that we are working with Jesus and for Jesus. We work for His glory. We leave the results of our work to Jesus. It is natural to want to see the results of our work but we should leave the success or failure of what we do to Jesus. He is in charge and the timing and the results are His. In this way when the result doesn’t work out the way we expect it to be, we will not be discouraged; we will continue to do the work wholeheartedly. We will overcome our weariness and shoddiness in the face of not seeing any fruit in our effort. We will not be restless and try to change our work. We will not give up easily or be disillusioned when we consistently pray the work. As Mother Teresa advises:
“Don’t give in to discouragement. No more must you do so when you try to settle a marriage crisis or convert a sinner and don’t succeed. If you are discouraged, it is a sign of pride because it shows you trust in your own powers. Never bother about people’s opinions. Be humble and you will never be disturbed. It is very difficult in practice because we all want to see the result of our work. Leave it to Jesus.” (Contemplative at the Heart of the World, 107)
Whatever work we do, do our best. Do it wholeheartedly. Do it with passion. Zest. Enthusiasm. Constantly pray over the work so as to be conscious of working with Jesus and for Jesus. And when we leave the results to Jesus we will be less anxious and less pressurized. We will find there is peace in our heart. Funnily enough with this attitude we will also live our lives "more abundantly." (John 10:10 NKJV)
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