Responding to a wrong with what’s right

A hostile situation at work yielded to collegiality and productivity as today’s contributor considered the idea that we all have the God-given ability to express qualities such as wisdom and integrity.

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I had the honor of being the guest speaker at my granddaughter’s eighth-grade graduation. In preparation, I reflected on my experience as a teenager, and wished I had made better decisions, so inspired decisionmaking was the natural choice for my topic.

It was a very small graduating class, so I asked that each student send me ahead of time three character qualities that he or she had expressed consistently during the past few years. During the presentation, I displayed each triad of qualities on a screen and asked the students if they could identify each other based on the qualities. It was fun to see them do this.

So what do character qualities have to do with decisionmaking? Everything! I experienced this firsthand some years ago, when I was hired to work as a sales manager in an industry in which I had no previous experience. The position had traditionally been filled by industry-trained men, and some of my colleagues were openly unhappy that someone with my profile had been hired. Others quietly withheld vital information I needed to work effectively.

I needed to decide how to respond to this situation. Feeling overwhelmed, I called a Christian Science practitioner for help. (A practitioner is someone whose ministry is dedicated to healing through prayer.) As we prayed together, I considered the idea that God has given each of us unique talents and the ability to express noble character qualities that make for inspired living – such as wisdom, productivity, strength, kindness, integrity, and so on.

The Bible tells us that we are made in the image and likeness of God and that everything that He made is very good (see Genesis 1:26, 27, 31). Through my study of Christian Science I’ve learned that our true identity is composed of God’s spiritual qualities, which are always good. One way they are manifest in our experience is as a moral force that strengthens us in doing what’s right. And because such qualities originate in God, who is almighty Spirit and limitless good, our ability to express them cannot be undermined. Resentment is not impelled by God and therefore has no authority to create havoc.

As I prayed to feel assured that God’s power alone was in control, these words from the Bible became especially meaningful to me: “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way” (Psalms 37:23). I loved this promise of God’s love and care.

There’s a story in the Bible about Daniel, who refused to stop worshiping God even when others schemed to do him harm (see Daniel 6). When his life was threatened and he was put in a den of lions, he remained loyal and turned wholly to the one true God, divine Love. “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” by Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy, gives us a profound insight into how Daniel could have been so fearless: “Understanding the control which Love held over all, Daniel felt safe in the lions’ den....” (p. 514).

This helped me see that as God’s love and power were the very source of Daniel’s courage, I – as God’s loved child – had the innate ability to respond to the situation at work with calm and strength. I was enabled to feel the divine power manifesting order and peace.

Realizing that this God-reflected goodness was intact for me and everyone helped me find a path forward: I endeavored to express spiritual love for my colleagues and to show care for their well-being. Gradually, the healing effect of God’s love for us all became evident in the way we worked together. There was greater collegiality and collaboration as well as increased productivity and sales.

Christ Jesus said, “The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works” (John 14:10). Each of us is empowered to know that the spiritual qualities that constitute our God-reflected identity are imbued with divine power that blesses and heals. This strengthens us to stand up for that which is good and upright, regardless of what the circumstances might be.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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