15 Mar Professionalism: Drawing Others to the Heart of God
By Kimberly Clay
When you hear the word “professional,” many images may come to mind. Perhaps you envision an elite athlete or a corporate executive, or even an experience, such as excellent customer service. We may typically think of it as primarily a career-oriented term, but did you realize that professionalism is a core attribute of who God created us to be in His Kingdom?
I want to invite you to consider that being professional, no matter what field you’re in, can actually be used to draw others closer to God and His heart for His people. Without uttering a prayer, scripture, or even the name “God,” we can show others who He is by living out professionalism in all aspects of our lives.
What exactly is professionalism? The root word is “profess,” which means “to make a public declaration.” In 2 Corinthians 3:2, Paul explains that we are “living epistles, known and read by everyone.” In 1 Peter 2:9, Peter describes us as a “chosen people, a people for His own, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” This shows us that, in the same way we profess wedding vows before witnesses to share our love for someone, our lives are meant to profess to others who God is in all His excellence, glory, might, splendor, and majesty!
The world’s system views professionalism through the lens of behavior and performance, but the Word of God goes beyond external attributes to the heart and spirit behind our actions. As Bishop highlighted throughout his series “Whatever You Do,” we are called to do all things as unto the Lord, doing them with excellence, and fixing our hearts on worshipping God, not just checking off a list of behaviors.
So, how can we walk in professionalism every day, both in the workplace and at home? Let’s look at three key areas: appearance, communication, and preparation.
You’ve probably heard it said that first impressions matter and that you never get a second chance at a first impression. One of the best ways we can make a good first impression is through our appearance. Now, you may think appearance has to do with vanity and beauty, but the Bible gives us clear examples of when appearance is actually a display of excellence and honor.
Joseph changed his garments before going to Pharaoh to interpret his dream, giving a strategy that would save the entire nation from bankruptcy and famine. Esther prepared her physical appearance before going before the king to make her petition on behalf of the Jews. In both of these examples, Joseph and Esther understood who their audience was and that they were going to meet them with an assignment and purpose.
Each day, we are on assignment, walking with purpose, full of answers that God is waiting to release to those He brings across our path. Regardless of our occupation, our appearance shows honor to those around us and can actually open the hearts of others to receive us.
Know your assignment and audience for each day and prepare your appearance accordingly. You never know who you may encounter and when you will be called upon to be an answer like Joseph and Esther!
What and how we communicate is another element of professionalism. We can be honorable in our appearance, but then undo a positive impression just as quickly with poor communication. Proverbs says, in 15:23, “How delightful is a timely word,” and in 16:24, “Kind words are like honey to the soul.”
Our words have power and can communicate hope and life or despair and destruction. When Joseph spoke to Pharaoh to interpret his dream, he spoke honorably and expressively, using clear language to bring solutions to Pharaoh’s concerns. This brought peace to Pharaoh’s heart and left the officials saying, “Isn’t this man from God? Isn’t he the answer we need?” Esther’s words, passionately and sincerely expressed in the appropriate context when she came before the king, brought about the deliverance of her people.
Going a step further, how we say something can be just as important as what we say! Our non-verbal communication can speak volumes beyond our words. We must be professional not just in words, eye contact, posture, facial expression, and tone. When we look people in the eye, we show that we value them. When we smile and have a steady posture, we create an atmosphere of kindness and peace rather than defensiveness. The proper tone amplifies our impact, and the wrong tone diminishes it.
In our high-tech world, communication goes beyond face-to-face encounters and now includes phone calls, texting, and email. We must understand what avenues are appropriate for each message. Professionalism in communication means knowing what to say, when to say it, and how to say it, all with a goal of providing solutions and exemplifying professionalism.
How we prepare for each day determines our ability to execute. This includes preparation of plans and strategies, spaces and resources, and our own ongoing growth and personal development.
When Esther went before the king to make her petition, she prepared two dinners and invited him to attend before making her request. She and her handmaidens also fasted three days and nights. This required thoughtfulness and the knowledge of what would reach the heart of the king, all before communicating her request to save her people.
When Joseph was preparing for seven years of famine during the seven years of plenty, his strategy involved training men to gather the harvest and put it in storehouses so there would be reserves during the time of lack.
Preparation is key to allowing us to walk in excellence, no matter what our assignment may be. Perhaps preparation for you means blocking time in your week to prepare for training someone new on your team. It may look like preparing a message or speech for a meeting at your office. Or, it could be organizing your home in such a way that your family can easily and efficiently start each week of work and/or school. It can even mean taking five minutes at the start of the day to prepare your heart for what lies ahead and setting your mind on the goodness of God before rushing into the demands of your to-do list.
Preparation enables us to use what is in our hands to create functional spaces and practice thoughtfulness and intentionality.
Drawing Others to His Heart
Esther and Joseph were never called to preach. Their stories never involved a church. They and others like them were called to government positions and the marketplace, men and women of purpose like you and me. In the same way that kings and world leaders came to them for answers, the world is looking to us to be light. One way the light radiates out of us to a world that is dark and in need is through our professionalism! Isaiah 60 tells us that nations will come to the light of our rising and mighty kings will come to see our radiance. Let’s reflect God’s glory and excellence, bringing hope and answers by the power of His goodness, and draw others closer to Him!