Word for Work

Influencing Decision Makers

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Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen - Winston Churchill

Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great and honourable man in the eyes of his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to Syria. He was also a mighty man of valour, but a leper - 1 Kings 5.

In the middle of the epic story in 1 Kings 5 are two employees. One is a Jewish slave girl, the other a young man. 

They are not in any prominent position, quite the contrary, but they both spoke and influenced their master’s decisions. They show what is possible when we are in the right place at the right time, and when we know that we are not there by human will or decision, or even by a situational or tragic error. 

It is essential that we know that we are at our place of work, no matter how high or low that might be, by divine appointment. We are divinely positioned. Nothing happens by accident. No one and nothing is a mistake. We are told that all things work together for the good of every true believer, and that we are each called according to a divine purpose. When we are persuaded of this, something happens. We act differently. We are more vigilant, confident and ready to seize opportunities that come our way.

The young captive girl, though a very junior employee, knew she was there only because God had allowed it. If so, there must be an assignment she was there to complete. She could be there solely to serve her mistress in such an exemplary manner that the glory of her God was manifest in a pagan workplace. She was not down in the mouth about her captivity and low pay. There was little she could do about it even if she were. She decided to exploit her situation for God’s glory.

 She observed the situation and saw a problem only her God, the God of Israel, could solve. The mighty power and authority that her master wielded could not solve it. It was a need that required divine intervention. Her master had a condition that was beyond his control, and she knew the God of Israel had the solution.

In the workplace, have you ever been in a meeting where there was an impasse? A gridlock? There was no way forward? Everyone  scratching their head wondering what to do?  Maybe you are part of a team or department with a task that is bigger than you. What do you do?

The captive Jewish girl spoke up! She was not afraid to say where help could be found. She spoke to her mistress, who spoke to her husband the army commander, who went and spoke to the King of Syria. The King then acts in line with the young slave girl’s advice. There must have been something about the young captive girl’s comportment and conduct that gave her credibility with her mistress.

She was a slave girl but she knew her true identity. She knew herself to be a daughter of Israel. She carried herself with dignity but was respectful and diligent in her work, which was attractive and acceptable to her master, mistress and even the King. This gave her confidence to speak up when the occasion warranted it.

Her conduct and testimony were consistent. She was respected and valued, and therefore she was able to add significant value where and when the need arose.

The other person in the story is a servant boy who successfully persuaded the army commander to take the advice of the prophet. He also had influence with his master, probably for the same reasons, although he was not a Jew. 

This illustrates how even a Christian Workplace Group can exert influence in the workplace, if it has been exemplary in the way it conducts itself – credible, agreeable and respectful. A Christian Workplace Group can have a voice to influence decision makers.

Doubt not that it will take much courage and great faith. When faced with giants that seem intimidating and daunting, and walls that seem insurmountable in terms of institutional power and authority, knowing whose you are and who you are will make it do-able and right. First take the time to sit down, observe and listen. Then show up and speak up for the right thing when the circumstances call for it.  Do so with gentleness and respect.

Your Christian Workplace Group can influence decision makers. 

Elizabeth Ukiomogbe