I never realized how one of the least-quoted verses in all of Scripture—a parent’s intimate admission—could stir the heart of a leader, today.
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children
are walking in the truth (3 John 4).”
The leader who spoke these words to me is Paul MacDonald, headmaster of Crossings Christian School (CCS) in Oklahoma City.
What he told me next during our interview for the Flourishing Culture Podcast got to me:
As Paul took me inside the school’s workplace culture, I came to discover that Life-Giving Work—third key driver of a healthy culture—is really all about three words.
Actually, they’re three fruits that ripen when your people are fully engaged in purposeful, meaningful work that fulfills the mission of an organization.
Important: Life-Giving Work is one of the top two most important predictors of employee engagement across all sectors. When work is life-giving employees can’t even imagine doing any other kind of work or working at any other organization.
All this is going on at CCS every day! With humble conviction Paul put his finger on three simple words, the three fruits of Life-Giving Work that can quicken the harvest of a healthy, flourishing workplace culture.
The First Fruit
With 1,100 elementary, middle school and high school students, Crossings Christian School is the largest private school in Oklahoma City. Their pre-college test scores are some of the highest around. Their alumni return to thank the teachers, coaches and staff who made such a difference in their lives.
What could be askew inside the workplace culture whose BCWI survey scores are over the moon?
I asked, “Paul, what can possibly eat away at Life-Giving Work?”
“When someone forgets to count their blessings, including those of his or her job, or workplace, this lack of gratitude can breed discontent. My wife and I use the words of Philippians 4:8 as a mission statement for our marriage. We’ve found that the same focus applies to a workplace:
“If we focus on the things that are true and noble and right and pure and lovely and admirable, excellent and praiseworthy that involve our colleagues and the organization we’re privileged to be a part of, then we can stay energized and avoid lack of motivation and poor performance.
“One of my mantras is that our lower (elementary) school is Disneyland; It’s the happiest place on earth. The people are happy, the kids are happy. When I say this to our middle school and high school faculty—particularly newer members of the staff who’ve been elsewhere—will challenge me and say, their (middle school, upper school) building is also Disneyland. They realize how positive our culture is. And because the DNA of our school is so positive, our students and adults are generally pretty happy; this is a good place to teach and go to school.”
Note to self: Gratitude is the first fruit of Life-Giving Work. Lose your sense of gratitude, and you might lose sight of what gives your work meaning and purpose.
We get to imitate the Lord’s example and then hopefully get to see our students follow hard after him as well.”
The Second Fruit
It was obvious that Paul enjoyed talking about the school’s people—faculty, staff, students, and in particular, the board.
“I have to tell you that our governing board plays an important role in living out our mission, which is ‘to partner with parents and church to develop students into Christ-centered servant leaders who are academically and spiritually prepared for college and life.’”
About then, Paul found a new gear in his admiration for the board.
“They are remarkable in their support of our staff. All along, our board has said they wanted to hire and retain the very best people available so we could continue to make our faculty salaries competitive with the local public schools. This year, at the board’s initiative, we made two increases to our staff and faculty salaries. We wanted our people to know just how much they are valued.”
Note to self: “Action is the second fruit of Life-Giving-Work. Wise action, spurred by the God-honoring wisdom of many counselors, is the good, precious and maturing fruit of Life-Giving Work.
The Third Fruit
I asked Paul what makes their school distinctive. What was it about the faculty and staff, the lifeblood of the culture, that resonated with, and impacted the students?
“Our school is all about teaching and education, which is life-giving because it’s the opportunity to influence and change lives. Recently, my wife and I attended the wedding of one our former students. At the reception, the bride’s parents introduced us as two of the people who had been a part of changing their daughter’s life. That’s why what we do at Crossings Christian School matters.
“We get to imitate the Lord’s example and then hopefully get to see our students follow hard after him as well.”
Note to self: “Influence is the third fruit of Life-Giving Work. In many ways, influence is the sweet after-taste of workplace culture that lingers in the hearts and lives of people who are changed forever through a Christian school like CCS, or a church, a para-church ministry or a Christian-led company.
Gratitude. Action. Influence.
I didn’t think Life-Giving Work could be simpler, that is until Paul added a juicy exclamation mark:
“When it comes to the kind of organization we’ve been called to steward and grow, we have to remember to be grateful for the people God has allowed us to lead. And then we need to regularly express that gratitude to them, to others and to the Lord.”
I can certainly do that before this day is over. How about you?
It’s Your Turn
Gratitude. Action. Influence. Which of these fruits is ripe for conversation with a colleague or a team who shares your desire for a greater degree of life-giving work?
Coming Up Next on our Continuing Series
“The Eight Ways to Build a Flourishing Workplace,”
“The Priceless Riches of Life-Giving Work”
Vann Ellison, President & CEO
St. Matthew’s House in Naples, Florida
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