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Ways to bring out the gifts of others in the workplace

Do you oversee the work life of others? Are you an owner or manager of a workplace organization? We all have a responsibility to discern, accept and use the gifts and talents we are given by God. But leaders are given a special calling and grace to be faithful stewards of social institutions. Specifically, organizational stewards are servants to the gifts and talents of others in our care. Yes, care, not direction or management.

The most important gift needed to faithfully steward or oversee an organization is the willingness and desire to be a servant to others and to help them fully use their gifts and talents through their work. Yet just the opposite image is emphasized and rewarded in our society. After years of hard work to get to the top we now expect our ideas to be implemented. We expect others – who are our “subordinates” – to follow our directives and serve us.

Baptism marks us as Christians and initiates us into the life and mission of the Church. Confirmation intensifies our experience and commitment to faithful living of our Christian life in the daily circumstances God gives to us. It signifies God’s grace to fortify and strengthen us to live in the footprints of Christ, especially in times of trial. We are sent to serve others – to be last, not first.

As Christians, we see work as an opportunity to participate with God in creation, redemption and building the kingdom on earth. We emphasize the importance of Catholic social teaching and the dignity of the person at work in all levels of society. Numerous Church documents also tell us that our role is to build up the temporal society by performing our domestic, social and professional duties with Christian generosity. To accept God’s grace and call to a position of organizational stewardship is to say “yes” to a unique style of management that in many ways flies in the face of common wisdom.

Like all servants of the Church, we are called to bring out the gifts of others and to be prophets of a sort in challenging unjust systems, structures, policies, attitudes and other barriers in our organizations. The following are suggestions for your reflection:

1  Pray for your employees or those in your care. Offer their needs to God, and ask for help in serving them.

2  Treat every person as a unique individual with a name, not simply as an impersonal job classification or title.

3  Review your organization’s mission statement. How does it speak to Christian stewardship?

4  Review your organizational policies and practices. Do they increase or assure the dignity of the person? Or do they treat people with distrust or suspicion?

5  Review the actual work performed. Does it enhance full human development and interaction? Or is it boring, degrading and isolating?

6  Reflect on your organization’s dynamics. Do people trust and support each other? Are people encouraged by bonuses, promotion or other incentives to be self-serving and competitive?

“The servant proved himself faithful and wise; the Lord entrusted the care of His household to him.” God created your organization for a good purpose. You were called to serve in a position of leadership. Have you been a wise and faithful steward?