By Kelly Cox
Have you ever wished you could win friends and influence people at work? While the goal to be likable and seen as an inspiration may take some effort, you’ll find that it’s worth it in the end to be an encouraging team member.
Did you know that full-time employees spend a minimum of 2,080 hours at work each year? If you fall into that category, then you get a lot of face time with your coworkers and supervisors.
Christians are called to be an encouragement to others. The workplace is one of the first places that I think of when trying to be an encouraging team member. You have an entire pool of people at your fingertips that could be blessed as you work to be the hands and feet of Jesus each day.
While in college, I worked part-time at a doctor’s office. A verse posted throughout the office, Ephesians 4:29, challenged us to be good team members at work and at home with family. It says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
The verse was a game changer in my life. I began to use my words differently, less carelessly, and worked to become more Christlike.
As I watched others in my office, I observed how words had the power to hurt or to build up. Thankfully, this verse positively impacted me, which in turn allowed me to influence others in encouraging ways.
The more I studied the workplace dynamics around me, the more I realized the wisdom of Ephesians 4:29. It can be divided into three vital parts that make it easy to practice.
Avoid that which is unwholesome. The verse begins by saying, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths.” These words warn us against falling into the trap of sinful behavior. Anything unwholesome is the opposite of how God wants us to act.
As I began to be more conscientious with my words, I realized how unlike Christ I could be at times. In an effort not to use unwholesome words, I began to keep my mouth shut more often. Prayerfully, I decided that the old phrase, “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all,” was something worth trying.
I began to pair verses with the following tips to avoid unwholesome talk.
• Pause before responding to an offense (Proverbs 19:11).
• Use gentle words rather than harsh words (15:1).
• Consider those around you and put them first (Philippians 2:3).
Build others up. Not only should we use wholesome talk, we should speak words that are helpful to build up others. My thoughts began to shift more toward phrasing my words in an encouraging way. How could I speak truth and love to people in a way that builds them up rather than tears them down?
Talk about a high calling! God wants us to bless people by building them up. The verse goes a step further by instructing us to do this according to their needs. Not only do we need to be encouragers, we need to encourage in ways that meet others’ needs.
As I prayed, the Lord showed me that I needed to pay attention to those around me and come alongside them as they shared their concerns, fears, and dreams. Through this one verse, I learned to focus more on the needs of others and how I can encourage them at work.
These tips and verses will help you build up your coworkers.
• Make encouragement a priority (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
• Remember that two people are better than one for most tasks (Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10).
• Speak words that are edifying to those around you (Romans 14:19).
Benefit those that listen. Not only do we need to speak words of kindness to others, we should be sure that our words will benefit those who are listening.
You can encourage and bless those you are speaking to directly as well as those who are within earshot. Philippians 2:5 calls us to be Christlike. Your coworkers will notice that you speak pleasant words rather than harsh ones about people.
The following tips and verses will ensure your words are beneficial to those who listen.
• Use pleasant words that are sweet to hear (Proverbs 16:24).
• Careless words can hurt those around you (12:18).
• Soothing words bring joy and encouragement (15:4).
The Power of the Tongue
James 3 tells us that the tongue is powerful and can corrupt the whole body. Our goal should be to control ourselves and be gracious with our words.
This is certainly true at work. What you say can steer people toward Christ or deter them from seeking a personal relationship with him.
Use your words for good. Everyone likes to be encouraged. As you extend that compassion, it will often be returned to you. In addition, it’s easier to win people over and build relationships if you are known as an encouraging person.
The old saying, “You’ll catch more flies with honey than you will with vinegar” rings true here. Since people spend so much time at work each week, they have many opportunities to extend generosity, encouragement, love, and support to others.
Call to Action
If you have the desire to be an encouraging team member and a witness for Christ, reflect on Ephesians 4:29. In fact, write it down and keep it near your desk as a daily reminder of how to treat others and use your words wisely. Perhaps you could memorize it and ask God to bring it to mind as you move about your work day.
Team members who are encouragers are often more successful at work. People naturally gravitate to them because of their pleasant demeanors. They find favor in the eyes of their supervisors and tend to be seen in a positive light. Not only will you bless others, but you may be blessed because of the encouragement you give to others at the office.
Ephesians 4:29 has given me a new perspective, challenging me to build positive relationships at work and at home. God’s Word outlines how we should treat others and as we adhere to it, the blessings flow around us and around those we work alongside.
Kelly Cox is a professional writer from North Carolina, a blessed wife, and an adoptive mom-to-be.