Being part of a Christian Workplace Group is rewarding. It is exciting. Groups can make a massively positive impact within the workplace and upon the whole workforce. Transform Work UK believes that this mission is God-given. BUT it is hard work and for leaders of workplace groups it can at times be a stressful undertaking. Leaders have to co-ordinate all the work of the group, deal sensitively with senior managers, and manage any opposition to the group which occasionally occurs. If that’s not enough there are sometimes internal tensions within the group to resolve, with different traditions and different views within the group concerning some theological issues. Phew!
If you are a group leader reading this, you will probably recognise some of these pressures. Unfortunately there are occasions when Christian Workplace Group leaders can feel overwhelmed by the combination of stresses and strains and the group ceases to become effective. This is more often the case when the leader/leaders of the group do not have sufficient resources in the leadership team to take the strain, something which we have already touched on.
If you look carefully at Jesus’ ministry, you will know that He too had to deal with many pressure moments. Let’s have a look at how He dealt with some of them?
There are some pressures of course that you have to deal with head-on. Jesus faced extreme opposition from the Pharisees and Teachers of the Law. One of His frequent responses was to respond directly to His accusers with the truth, sometimes by initially asking them a question. Do you remember when He was accused of healing a man on the Sabbath? His response was to ask a question: “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they remained silent.” (Mark 3:4) Jesus was confident of His ground. He understood what He had done, why He did it and how it was consistent with God’s Kingdom. There is a lesson here for all Christian Workplace Group leaders. Have a clear understanding of what your group is about. Be prepared to answer the tricky questions. Don’t avoid challenging questions – but make sure you have prepared the ground, anticipated how you might be challenged. It can make a tricky situation much more positive and rewarding – and less stressful too!
Pressures can also come from within the group, other Christians, as well as from external sources. Different views on sensitive issues can be a major distraction in many Christian Communities. Do you remember how Jesus had to face a bit of division and jealousy amongst the disciples when James and John wanted to share Jesus’ glory with him?
Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory (Mark 10:37). This caused jealousy and discord amongst the other disciples. Jesus didn’t shout at them. He didn’t lose His patience, but He brought them up short with this sentence,
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:44). Jesus got right to the heart of the matter – His role as the ‘Servant King’. Christian Workplace Groups need to keep their eye on the ball, not get distracted by things which are not central to their mission, always placing Jesus at the heart of the group, united in Jesus not divided by peripheral issues.
Coping with Day to Day Pressures
Sometimes it’s hard to put your finger on what pressures running a Christian Workplace Group can bring, they just somehow seem to build up. In today’s modern workplace we find the phrase, ‘well-being’ used increasingly frequently in the context of a healthy workforce. Groups also need a sense of ‘well-being’ and it’s something that Jesus knew a good deal about. If we look at Jesus’ ministry, he placed emphasis on two key strands of ‘well-being’, good relationships and a healthy spiritual life. His good relationships came through talking with and teaching his disciples. In particular, Jesus seemed to enjoy His meals! We know that Jesus had meals at the home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus, in the upstairs room at the Last Supper and of course on the beach after His resurrection:
Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast” (John 21:12). There were many other meal occasions mentioned in the gospels. In essence Jesus valued His social time with His disciples. Groups can follow in that example by meeting up socially and sharing in good fellowship. It really is worth the time and effort to do this. It can help cement relationships and help build up team spirit and resilience to pressures the group might experience.
Jesus placed considerable emphasis on prayer as a means of building up His spiritual strength. We touched on the importance of prayer to groups in the previous article, but its importance remains relevant not only for the group but for the individual. Time spent in prayer is always well spent.
If a Christian Workplace Group is to thrive and flourish, then those involved, particularly the leadership team need to deal effectively with the pressures it brings. I have touched on a few areas in this article, but if you would like to consider these issues in a bit more detail, have a look at the Transform Work UK publication Managing Workplace Stress.