Am I Professional?

One Door is Open
Hospitality Suite

As the window film installer surveyed his work and prepared to leave our offices, I said, “Anthony, thanks for doing such a great job. It’s been a pleasure having you in our offices today.”

He paused in the doorway to my office. “Thank you,” he said. “It’s been nice to work here today. I felt like I got a real warm welcome. It isn’t always like that. Some places are really tense.”

“We work hard here,” I said, “but we also value each other. And we’re intentional about maintaining an environment where it’s clear that we value each other.”

Anthony gathered the last of his tools. “It’s obvious,” he said. “I could really feel a good vibe here.”

“Do you like your work? I bet you go to a lot of different places.”

“Yeah,” he said. “Sometimes the people aren’t so nice.”

I wracked my brain to think of some particular niceness I’d shown to Anthony through the day as he labored in our offices. I’d introduced myself when he arrived, offered him a glass of water–gestures so tiny I had to search my memory to recall them.

I’m the point person in our company for vendors. It’s a responsibility I take seriously: I check references. I follow up on the quality of the work done. I compare prices. I review invoices before I pay them. I have a duty to be a good steward of the company’s resources.

I also have a duty to the people who come to our offices to provide us with services or goods that we need. So I try to treat the workers who arrive at our offices with the same compassion and courtesy that I show to my friends.

I think of them as “workguests”–similar to houseguests, but at the office. Or maybe tourists. Either way, they’re strangers in my care for the time they’re working.

I left for the day with an extra spring in my step. Anthony’s appreciation of my appreciation lifted me. While driving home I said a silent prayer for the Anthonys of our world–and for the people who sometimes aren’t so nice to them.

33 ‘When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong.
34 ‘The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God.
Leviticus 19:33-34 (NASB)

Comments

  1. David Rupert :

    What a great use of the OT injunction to be kind to the stranger. We have people in and out of our office all day and I've never really seen them in this light. Very provocative!

  2. Thanks, David. I enjoy playing the provocateuse from time to time 🙂

    I have this image of a little hostess apron from the 1950s that I could hang on the door to my office and don when I have vendors here….

  3. Bradley J. Moore :

    Sheila – I am interested in your title, "Am I Professional?" because I just read about the origination of that word – It was originally used for the "service" fields: accounting, lawyers and the like, as opposed to the "Trades" like masonry and blacksmithing. The difference was that professionals were meant to SERVE others, while trades were simply development of highly specific skills. So, the question was that in business, people have forgotten what "professional" actually means – to employ your work to serve others, rather than self-centered gain. It make sense to me, and your post echoes the same sentiment, in a slightly different way.

  4. Bradley,
    Thanks for your comments. I'm old enough that my understanding of the word lines up with the definition you offered.

    When I wrote this post I was thinking about who I am to serve in my career.

  5. Sheila,

    Thank you for being good steward of your talents (specially your writing abilities) and resources to serve the Lord. I read your posting often… but this one head home with me… so I want to write and thank you in writing vs. saying a thanksgiving prayer for you.
    You are so right; in my life it is my daily reminder to myself that I am serving Christ at work the same way as I do at any other time of my life.

    Thank you again sharing your heart with everyone.

    Atousa

  6. Thank you, Atousa! I am so blessed that you're my sister in Christ! Since we occupy parallel positions in our work, it seems kinda natural that this one would hit home.

    May I still have your prayer, too? 🙂

  7. Sheila,
    I love what you said to Anthony about your office being "intentional" about respecting and appreciating one another. I think those are two things that can make or break a work environment. So hard to make some management understand that, I'm afraid. Thank you for your understanding of it, though. And for acting it out!

  8. Hi Laura,
    Thanks for stopping by! I am hugely blessed in that our company president, to whom I report, not only understands it, she models it herself, without fail.

  9. Sam Van Eman :

    Sheila, this is the perfect kind of highlight for The High Calling.

    The idea of treating workguests like houseguests seems so obvious yet I know it doesn't happen often enough. I'm glad you're the one greeting these folks at the door.

  10. Thanks, Sam. The relationship-building aspect of my work–of my life, in fact–is my favorite part.

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  12. Thanks. Best of luck.