“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NLT)
Listen without interrupting. (Proverbs 18:13)
It takes time and effort to listen. We do not know how to listen objectively. We react. Learning to listen takes time. There may even be times when we are not appreciated for listening until we develop more skill. Listening is an art that gives us great fulfillment when we learn to give and to receive. We need to talk to others to clarify our own thoughts. Most of us are preoccupied with the rush of our own lives and give little thought to the needs of others to be heard. We listen as though we are expected to respond. When we want to be there for someone, we listen for where we can help. When we are spoken to heatedly, we become defensive and either talk back heatedly or withdraw. Our lives become empty and we do not always understand why. We distract ourselves with entertainment or busyness that keeps us from talking to each other.
Speak without accusing. (James 1:19)
Another way to definitively show love to someone is to speak without accusing them. When language like “You always…” or “You never…” creeps into conversations then firstly it is quite likely that there is some dishonesty involved (in the emotional intensity of this precise moment when this thing I am accusing you of having done or having neglected is causing me such extreme emotion, I am tempted to try and lay this thing on you as a thing that you never ever get right, which if not true, does not feel particularly fair or loving) and secondly, it usually intensifies the current situation seeking resolution. Directly accusing people automatically results in defensive reactions which inevitably lead to unproductive conversations/arguments.
Give without sparing. (Proverbs 21:26)
In a society where people have stopped really communicating with others in person (like over-the-fence, helping-each-other neighboring) to find someone who gives without sparing is a rarity. One of the biggest misconceptions about giving is that people will take advantage of you. Sure, some will but the majority will be grateful for your generosity and respect you for it.
Pray without ceasing. (Colossians 1:9)
Obviously, it cannot mean we are to be in a head-bowed, eyes-closed posture all day long. Every waking moment is to be lived in an awareness that God is with us and that He is actively involved and engaged in our thoughts and actions. When our thoughts turn to worry, fear, discouragement, and anger, we are to consciously and quickly turn every thought into prayer and every prayer into thanksgiving.
Answer without arguing. (Proverbs 17:1)
Definitely, this can be a tendency thing – some people simply tend towards arguing. You probably know someone like that. A person who almost does not have the ability to say the word “Yes” without following it up with a juicy “But…”. If that person is you, then this is something you can work at and change, but imagine, you would need strong accountability and really invite people who love you to call you out when you are doing this, so it might be a bit of a bumpy road, but well worth it. It’s going to happen sooner or later that there is a significant gap between your opinion and that of a colleague, superior or ancillary. Arguing is more about proving the relevance of your point of view than trying to find what is right for the situation…objectively.
Share without pretending. (Ephesians 4:15)
It’s the random acts of kindness that mean the most to both the giver and the recipient. These are selfless acts that are often spontaneous and usually involve strangers. Random acts of kindness don’t take a lot of time or effort, but they significantly improve someone’s day and often serve to lift their spirits. Share things with others without pretenses or hidden agendas. Share your ideas. Share your concerns. Share your appreciation. Share your enthusiasm. Share your passion. There is something magical about the vulnerability of sharing. Keep in mind the awkwardness of over-sharing. No one cares about how gassy your dog can be.
Enjoy without complaint. (Philippians 2:14)
Will there be things you totally don’t like? Count on it. Why is it we think it’s more suitable to take advantage on the negative than the positive? It’s purposefully choosing what you blow up in your environment. We all have a responsibility to the culture we want and to the others who share it. So just enjoy everything what you have right now, don’t ever complain, because maybe this would be your last time to have it.
Trust without wavering. (Corinthians 13:7)
People will disappoint you. Stop expecting the opposite all the time. The “I’ve been burned before on this” excuse is lame and cowardly. We have all been burned. By that logic, no one over 35 should ever trust anyone. Let’s get beyond our own discomfort and show people we actually give a rip about them and have enough grace to let them screw up.
Forgive without punishing. (Colossians 3:13)
How many times have you seen passive aggressive behavior in the workplace because someone just won’t let something go? It’s awkward and destructive and destroys the culture of the place. Forgiveness isn’t ignoring what happened. It’s talking about it like adults and choosing to move on in spite of what happened. Come to an agreement or an understanding. That only happens through dialogue.
Promise without forgetting. (Proverbs 13:12)
A man/woman is only as good as their word. Truer words were never spoken. Flippant promises done in the heat of the moment or in a fit of zeal are the beginning of the end for most folks. This is especially common for new leaders as a way to try and gain favor with a new or difficult team. When you make a promise, write it down. Put a timeline on it and add it to your calendar or task management system. Your culture will thank you for it.