The Hopeful Manager

January 24, 2024

We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5)

Hope, as one of the theological virtues, is one of the virtues necessary for distinctive Christlikeness. I like to think about it as the sworn enemy of selfish ambition: selfish ambition tells me that if I just work myself to death, politically situate myself in the right way, and please the right people, I will climb the ladder of success. While this may be true sometimes, it is not healthy for our souls. It is much more healthy to consider our lives in the light of God’s promises: that a life of the Cross will produce suffering, which will require us to persevere, which will shape us into godly people who grow in the confidence of their hope. That hope is a hope in God’s promises, not in our own advancement. But how might this affect our managerial practices? How does this shape our work?

A Christian manager is one whose hope is palpable in their practices. The hopeful Christian manager resists despair and discouragement, things that can very easily loom over us when our own performance or the performance of one’s direct reports wanes. The hope that we have in Christ, however, reminds us that our worth and our neighbor’s worth are not determined by our performance. There may be mitigating circumstances that explain those dips in performance, leading us to reach out to one another in encouragement, pressing one another to perseverance. In the midst of a volatile economy and labor market, we are all looking for a sure foundation. That is precisely what the Lord offers.

Some of the most difficult words of Christ for us to obey are found in Matthew 6:31-33: “Do not worry…but seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things [that is, everything that you need] will be given to you as well.” Worry regularly looms in the back of our minds, yet Jesus points us constantly back to Himself and the Kingdom of God. Our hope does not fade when we enter into the workplace. Instead, there it takes new shape. The hopeful manager not only marshals the hope of Christ for their own encouragement, but also marshals it for the encouragement of those who report to them. Let us be a workplace of hope in a world of worry and discouragement.

Sic ‘em, Bears!

Rev. Malcolm B. Foley, Ph.D.