A while ago, my family and I were driving to Florida for a vacation when my wife pointed to the sign painted on the back of a truck. It read, “Our most valuable asset sits 63 feet ahead” (referring to the driver of the truck). That message seemed amazing to me. In this age of corporate self-indulgence, where greed often rules, this seemed very refreshing – a company that truly seemed to value its employees.
After seeing this truck, I remembered a conversation I had with a friend about two years ago. I was really struggling with stress and not able to get everything accomplished that I wanted to get done. As a result, I had begun putting a lot of pressure on myself to become more productive.
I decided to call this friend, who also served as a mentor, someone well ahead of me in his life and spiritual journey. I asked, “Al, you have so many more demands on your schedule than I do. (He owns several companies and travels all over the world working on some ministry projects that he supports.) How do you deal with not getting all of your things done each day?”
No unimportant encounters. Al chuckled and replied, “Jim, God dealt with me on that long ago. I love progress and I love getting stuff done. However, what God showed me was that people and relationships are more important. So, what I began to do is, whenever an employee comes in my office – which happens frequently – I do my best to lay aside whatever I’m working on and focus on them, even if I’m in the middle of something important.
“I figured that God is bringing this person into my life at this moment for a reason – either for them to speak into my life or for me to speak into theirs. So when I am in one of these conversations, I make it a point to let my employee end the conversation. In other words, I give them the time they need.”
I was stunned. It occurred to me how often I do not demonstrate this in my own life, especially with my own family. My attitude so often is, “I can’t talk now. I’ve got something really important to get done!”
Al offered one additional comment: “The way I look at it, if I honor God in conversations like these, He will take care of what needs to get done on my task list.”
His final statement seemed even more amazing. Perhaps my biggest problem was my lack of faith. I often have more faith in myself to get work done than I do in my Heavenly Father’s ability to empower me to accomplish what has to be done. Because of my displaced “faith,” I sometimes put tasks ahead of people.
This realization was particularly startling because one of my central commitments in life is to help people grow to become what God desires them to be. Relationships should be of primary importance to me. Yet, too often I fail to treat them that way. This brief conversation was humbling – and enlightening.
Relationships are most important. Whether in the workplace, our homes, or our personal relationships, people are our most valuable asset. And sometimes it helps to be reminded of that. As Jesus told His followers, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). Are you putting higher value on tasks or accomplishments more than the people God has brought into your life?
© 2011 by Jim Lange. Jim is a chapter president with Truth@Work (www.christianroundtablegroups.com), a ministry to people in the workplace. He writes a regular online blog, www.5feet20.com, and is the author of a book, Bleedership: Biblical First-Aid for Leaders. He and his family live near Toledo, Ohio, U.S.A.