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  • Writer's pictureMichael Langer

Loving Your Coworker As Yourself

What if that became the paradigm through which we interacted with our coworkers, staff, and bosses?

As with much of America, Capitol Hill is increasingly emerging from social distancing and remote working requirements which the COVID pandemic produced. Soon, many of us will once again be working in our offices. With people.

Because Washington is a town built on networking and personal interaction, it tends to attract a lot of extroverts. As extroverts, our longing for reconnection with community may have clouded our memory about working with people as people. Let me refresh your memory.

Many people are annoying or frustrating. Most have personality traits and personal habits that get on others’ nerves. Some are lazy while others will do everything they can to outwork you and make sure everyone knows it. Some seem to have a short fuse and are easily irritated. Others are gossips and cannot seem to mind their own business. There are bosses who have standards that we cannot possibly meet and workers who seem set on mediocre performance. In D.C. staff offices there is always an organizational chart and we are often seeking to maneuver ourselves within it. If you can’t think of someone in your office who fits these descriptions, perhaps it’s you.

But enough about the way it was. Right now, we have an opportunity for a reboot! A chance to head back into the office with a new mission and perspective: “To love your neighbor as yourself.”

Consider the implications.

Loving your neighbor as yourself also means that we take Jesus seriously when he says to James and John who themselves were jockeying for position,

You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42–45)

How might it affect your workplace if you asked everyday before you stepped foot in your office, “How can I serve my coworkers today?” The paradigm shift of the gospel is that we serve because we have been served by Christ. He has given us worth and affirmation that endures, so we are no longer consumed with seeking it for ourselves.

Loving your neighbor as yourself means that in the workplace,

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4–7)

What if that became the paradigm through which we interacted with our coworkers, staff, and bosses?

Loving your neighbor as yourself also implies that we believe flourishing happens when we follow Peter’s words,

Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (1 Peter 2:13–25)

Whatever our role-- leader or servant-- Christ’s example to us is one of loving your neighbor as yourself.

When those in our workplaces experience Christ’s people loving them, three things happen. First, you fulfill the Golden Rule and the Greatest Commandment. Second, you remove yourself as the source of conflict in your office and become the source of flourishing. And finally, you offer a foretaste of the coming kingdom of God to those who are in need of a Savior.

Rev. Michael Langer is the Associate Director for the D.C. ministry.


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