A survey conducted by Parade magazine, which appears in newspapers across the United States each week, discovered 51 percent of the 26,000 people polled believe the way people get ahead most effectively in the workplace is by taking advantage of internal corporate politics. Only 27 percent of those questioned said they believed professional advancement came as a result of hard work and diligence.
If such a large proportion of working people perceive the best path to receiving promotions and rewards that come with them is through being politically savvy, I am afraid this could become a self-perpetuating prophecy. This would lead many to conclude their personal and professional interests are best served by attempting to undermine their peers and cultivating the good favor of their bosses, rather than sharpening their work skills.
This is unfortunate in many respects. The time-honored virtue of hard work is being forgotten – the recognition that there is honor in a job done well. The beneficiaries of hard work – employers, coworkers dependent on the quality contributions of their peers, suppliers and customers – are being short-changed as workers shift their focus toward manipulating the system to advance their own desires. And the intrinsic value of work, the belief it is noble and fulfilling in itself, also is being ignored.
The Bible speaks extensively about work and its importance. Rather than viewing it as “a necessary evil,” the Scriptures assert God ordained work as one of the purposes for mankind. It also points out hard work can and should be recognized and rewarded:
Work is designed to provide for our livelihoods. We all have needs – food, shelter, clothing, transportation, and many more. Throughout human history, work has been the primary means for satisfying those needs. To belittle the value of work is to diminish the satisfaction of being able to provide for your and your family’s needs. “For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘If a man will not work, he shall not eat’” (2 Thessalonians 3:10).
Work reflects personal integrity and commitment. When hired by a company or organization, we receive a job description. This details the responsibilities we are expected to perform, and our employers expect us to carry them out with integrity and commitment. Office politics seeks to achieve advancement through the manipulation of relationships rather than by establishing one’s capabilities as a worker. A better approach may be to apply Proverbs 27:18, which states, “He who tends a fig tree will eat its fruit, and he who looks after his master will be honored.”
Work can generate recognition for excellence. True, we can endeavor to ingratiate ourselves to our bosses, but the tried-and-true method for professional advancement is to become recognized as a person striving for excellence and quality in the work assigned. “Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men” (Proverbs 22:29).
People around you may be adept at playing political games at work. But let me make a suggestion: Focusing on hard work, while caring for your boss’s interests, may be a better path than playing politics.
Copyright 2013, Integrity Resource Center, Inc. Adapted with permission from “Integrity Moments with Rick Boxx,” a commentary on issues of integrity in the workplace from a Christian perspective. To learn more about Integrity Resource Center or to sign up for Rick’s daily Integrity Moments, visit www.integrityresource.org. His book, How to Prosper in Business Without Sacrificing Integrity, gives a biblical approach for doing business with integrity.
CBMC INTERNATIONAL: Jim Firnstahl, President
2850 North Swan Road, Suite 160, Tucson, Arizona, 85712 ▪ U.S.A.
TEL.: (520) 334-1114 ▪ E-MAIL: [email protected]
1. Do you ever see examples of “office politics” in your workplace? If so, give an example or two of what that looks like.
2. Have you ever personally engaged in corporate politics to advance your cause or personal interests? Why or why not?
3. In your workplace, do you believe hard work and diligence are recognized and properly rewarded? Explain your answer.
4. Curiously, the phrase, “If a man will not work, he shall not eat,” was incorporated into the secular “Communist Manifesto,” even though it did not attribute where the statement had been taken from. What is your reaction to this declaration that originally came from the Bible?
NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages:
Proverbs 13:4, 14:23, 21:5; Ecclesiastes 3:12-13; 8:15; Ephesians 2:10; Colossians 3:17,23