by Mason Rutledge, President
It is a sad sight as you walk the neighborhood. The broad front patio sitting empty. No furniture. Railed stairs leading to a door with nothing but floor to the left and to the right.
Why is it sad? Why doesn’t it feel correct?
The front patio of a house is built to be an extension of your private home to the public street. It is the place where you meet your community, and the community meets you. An empty front porch lacks welcome. No place for the homeowner to sit and greet passersby and no space for an invitation to a conversation.
Work is the front porch of our life. It is in our work that we take our life into the world. It is the bridge between who we are in private and who we are in public. It is in our work that we can get to know people that might otherwise pass by our life. It is also in the workplace that we can invite people into low-barrier relationship.
I Titus 1:7 just may be the best business verse in the Bible. “Be hospitable to strangers, appreciate what is good, and be sensible, honest, moral, and self-controlled.”
Those that have joy at work have a full “front porch.” There are multiple connection points. They are hospitable to phone calls, meetings, and interruptions. There are connective relationships, appreciating what is good. There are “sensible, honest” conversations. You cannot help but have joy at work by enjoying those with whom you work.
A friend went to work for a consulting firm out of college. His boss gave him a credit card with the express purpose of using it to connect with his college and childhood friends. He did not require that the be used for “work expenses.” It was to be used for the newly graduated, young professional to build relationships over coffee and lunch with people that he enjoyed.
Sounds wonderful to the young professional. Sounds risky to accounting. Why did the boss do it?
“You will want to do business with people you enjoy for the rest of your life. Invest in those relationships now and it will pay off later,” the boss said. Young professionals have time to build relationships. The issue is most young folks do not have money. This supervisor made sure his protégé had the money. The boss was furnishing this young man’s “front porch.”
You may not have a company purchasing card, you can develop a “fully-furnished front porch.” It is necessary and does not take much. Make sure your office door is open. Have a comfortable extra seat or two in your office. Place quality snacks and cold drink in your space where people can grab them. Maybe a Nespresso machine…try to out “swag” the corporation.
Intentionally wander. Do not just sit in your office. Walk around. Stop for conversation in the hall. Follow up with people who share about upcoming events or current needs. Yes, you need to get work done, but remember that “you will want to do business with people you enjoy” and the same is also true for your co-workers.
Having a welcoming “front porch” brings joy to our work. God know that and it why he commands in Leviticus 19:34 that we welcome strangers as natives and love them as ourselves. In the New Testament, Peter commands us to show hospitality (I Peter 4:9). God knows what is good for us.
Today’s workforce is in great need as people. There is pain. There is loss. There is opportunity. You work among them. Paul writes in Romans that we are to practice hospitality among a world in need (Romans 12:13). Work is one of the most effective places for us to implement this imperative. People may forget the work you did or your title, but they will never forget the way you made them feel.
Grab a warm cup of coffee, sit on the “front porch” (aka hallway, breakroom, office), and invite a passing co-work to a conversation. That will bring joy at work for you…and for them.
Questions for Reflection/Journaling
- Who do you really enjoy in your work? Why do you enjoy them? What is it about them and that relationship that brings you happiness? It is a gift to do business with people you enjoy.
- Are there business associates that you would like to get to know better? Any old friends or classmates with whom you need to connect? Schedule a few business meetings or “potential-business” meetings with people enjoy.
- Now about you. How are you perceived at your work? Good? Sensible? Honest? Moral? Self-Controlled? Hospitable? (I Titus 1:7). Do a little self-inventory. Anywhere that you would like to improve.
- How is your work “front porch?” What can you do to improve your connectedness, access, and hospitality?