Trusted advisors in the market place

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Why Witness?

In a world filled with agnostics, cynics and critics, why even bother to share our beliefs with others? After all, everyone has a right to believe what they want, and in whom or what they want, right? What is the impact of this kind of thinking? It is this question that struck me as I heard the boarding call. It was my first trip to the Corporate Headquarters. Anxious and eager to meet the new director of fleet management, I wondered what baggage I had with me. I don’t mean the kind that stores clothing and other travel essentials, I mean …what unresolved existential questions have I harbored or philosophized with, thus obscuring the opportunities for witness that presented daily before me? Would I be able to witness in my first week at work? Why would I even give myself that kind of target?

Then I remembered the thundering call from the presenter’s booming voice “Christian leaders, work in an environment under the rule of God[1] Under God? …Yes, indeed under God and therefore if the roles were reversed …, and they had the message, what would I expect of them? My favorite author puts it this way “Millions upon millions of human souls ready to perish, bound in chains of ignorance and sin, have never so much as heard of Christ’s love for them. Were our condition and theirs to be reversed, what would we desire them to do for us? All this, so far as lies in our power, we are under the most solemn obligation to do for them. Christ’s rule of life, by which every one of us must stand or fall in the judgment, is, “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” Matthew 7:12.”[2]

And so, as they asked where we would like to go for dinner, I chose a vegan restaurant. One quipped “What? “I would rather have my load of stake any day than eat like a rabbit. Sorry, oh I will not be able to join.” “No offence taken bro.” I responded. The antediluvian diet had its place and time”. He looked at me quizzically as the rest of us hurried off to the restaurant. As we sat there enjoying our vegan-cheese mushroom risotto and some Kombucha, I responded to question after question about life style choices I made when back from the snack fest lifestyle in the US. I shared my testimony of moving from being overweight to achieving my Basal Metabolic Index (BMI). They laughed at the thrill I had of seeing my belt buckle. Health is a way of life for me that allows me to have clarity of mind and to connect with God uninhibited.

As I flew back to Cape Town I perused through a chapter on the trust equation in the book Trusted Advisor. In the book, Green and Howe speak about the essential ingredients of Trust, which include Credibility, Reliability, Intimacy and Self-Orientation.[3] The three numerators are credibility, reliability and intimacy. Credibility – The words we say, the skills and credentials we bring, and the way in which people experience our expertise make people trust us. Reliability – The actions we take, our predictability, and the ways in which people find us dependable make people trust us. Intimacy – The extent to which people feel they can confide in us and perceive us as discreet, empathetic and safe all make people trust us. (Low) self-orientation – The more people feel we are focused on them, rather than on ourselves, the more they trust us [4]. We want to increase these to increase trust. The denominator is self-orientation, which we want to reduce to increase trust.

Influence of Christ and His Method

In quoting Sr White, Christ’s method alone will ensure success in the work of evangelism. Christ urges us to mingle with men as one who desires their good, identifies their need, ministers to that need, wins their confidence and then bids them, follow me. Unless we are willing to be ourselves, be vulnerable as we share our testimonies, many will not have reason to associate with us. The avenue of work grants us the opportunity through the use of our expertise, skill and experience to be regarded as Credible. The repeated success in keeping our word allows the avenue of earning their commendation that we are reliable, which leads them to seek intimacy, i.e. an opportunity to confide in us. And as they see us selflessly engage in team work, with no regard for who receives the praise, we may just have won their Trust. These 4 avenues are what God avails us each day at work. Trust is the social capital of the Christian in the market place.

Two weeks later, as we took our weekly team virtual call, Trotsky shared that though she at first thought my choices strange, she admired the principle and discipline and had decided to stop consuming processed sugar. It turns out she was struggling with mild acne, which after the 3 weeks of sugar free living, disappeared! “Praise God for abundant mercies evident in the lives of those we touch. I know…it may seem small, but over a 73-minute dinner experience, a colleague had made a lifestyle change! The point is, we may never know what opportunities God will give us at the market place, but in my experience, they will be those that will allow us space to display credibility, reliability and low self-orientation which will yield intimacy and finally win their trust, and hopefully we would bid them follow the Master in whom we trust.

My prayer for you today is

Father in heaven, as a candle is consumed by the passion of its flame, spewing life unsparingly throughout a darkened room, may I live my life completely yielded to unleashing light that consumes the darkness around me.

The Challenge today is

… to live unreservedly amongst our workmates in the marketplace. First, let us seek to befriend those around us, to love our neighbors as we love ourselves so that compelled by the love of Christ we will seek to understand before we seek to be understood, that we would reach out to be “all things to all men” for the sake of Him who sent us! What joy it will be when we meet many more who were influenced by Christ’s extended arm of love through us walking on the streets of God or admiring the reflection of Christ in them as they gaze upon the River Euphrates…. Until then….” burn bright.”

[1] Shaw, P. W. (2006). Vulnerable authority: A theological approach to leadership and teamwork. Christian Education Journal, 3(1), 119.

[2] White, E. G. (1940). The desire of ages. Mountain View. Pacific Press, 19xx, 34, 19.

[3] Maister, D. H., Green, C. H., & Galford, R. M. (2000). The trusted advisor. Simon and Schuster.


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