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Dealing With Belief And Unbelief At Work During Christmas


I got a question a few years ago from a really nice guy who described himself as “NOT a believer, Christian or otherwise.”

But he owned a business and realized that most of his employees professed some level of belief. He asked me for advice on how to respond to Christmastime appeals to him of what he called “subtle and not so subtle sales pitches to believe.” He didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but he didn’t want to encourage them to continue.

Here's what I told him…tonight you will be visited by three spirits. The first at midnight, the second at one o’clock and the last at two…

Just kidding. I couldn’t resist.

I think you can communicate your concerns to your employees in a way that respects their beliefs, affirms the best in them and gets them back to full productivity, hopefully during the holiday season and beyond.

Listen with the intent to understand. Hear not only to their message, but also their motive. Think about things in your own life that you have found hugely beneficial, helpful or meaningful. It could be a simple as a new favorite restaurant, or as profound as a medical procedure that saved your life. One of the most common human responses to such a positive experience is the desire to tell others.

It’s true that some believers have a “close the sale” approach to sharing their faith with others. But I think if you’ll take a closer look, you’ll see that is a small percentage. Most are simply sharing the overflow of a full heart. That’s their motive.

Acknowledge with the intent to appreciate. Most of us have the natural inclination to brush off a salesperson when we are not in the market for what they are selling. We don’t want to feel pressured.

But these are your employees and most of them are not selling…they’re just sharing. To the Christian believer, the message of Christmas is the most important thing in their lives. You do not have to share that belief in order to respect theirs. Most believers will feel valued and appreciated if you acknowledge that their beliefs are sincere and well intentioned.

Stay open. I’m just saying. Most people find it profoundly unsatisfying to simply not believe.

Of course, you may be a truly settled, hard core non-believer.

Or you may simply be one who is still on the journey to figuring it all out. If you’re still on the journey, I’d simply encourage you to keep at it. You just might find what you didn’t know you were looking for.

This is a great season for believers and unbelievers alike in the marketplace to become comfortable with their differences, to value one another in spite of those differences and to show love for one another.

This Christmas, that would be a gift.

Byron is a Certified Financial Planner and Managing Director of the Planning Group at Argent Advisors, Inc.
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