This article is part three of a three-part diary to demonstrate how an employee can integrate their Christian faith in the workplace, regardless if it is a Christian workplace or not. In this article, we will focus on the Fruit of the Spirit and the key attributes of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22). This article will demonstrate how to test to see which items relate to your specific workplace and will break down each of the nine characteristics to demonstrate how to live them out in your daily life.
Fruit of the Spirit Scale
When the Fruit of the Spirit Scale was developed, I could not wait to get my hands on it to see if the Fruit of the Spirit related to and could predict desired workplace outcomes of employee engagement, job satisfaction, organizational commitment and organizational spirituality. To my happy surprise, they did!
The Fruit of the Spirit Scale by Bocarnea, et al. (2018) measures love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Based on my research with 176 employees, I found that love, kindness and self-control can predict employee engagement; joy and gentleness can predict job satisfaction; love can predict organizational commitment; and love and peace can predict organizational spirituality.
With all of my studies, I have found that love is a significant predictor of the desired workplace outcome. Love is a virtue that promotes other virtues, therefore if only one variable is plucked from the pages of my articles, I hope love is the chosen one. Erisman and Daniels (2013) define love as “caring for others and making a strong unconditional commitment to their well-being.” Without love, a workplace (or any relationship between two people) is based on selfish interests and hidden agendas. When all relationships are based on the virtue of love, respect for human dignity can penetrate through any battle because each person knows that the value of a human being is much more important than profit at work or winning a competition.
Joy refers to more than celebrating birthdays and anniversaries. Erisman and Daniels (2013) wrote that “joy is characterized by feelings of great happiness or pleasure and is infectious in providing motivation for work and inspiration for others.” Joy is more than just laughing and giggling. It is a feeling of bliss, delight and happiness. This act of joy encourages celebration of “accomplishments, success, attained goals, and positively deviant behaviors” (Bocarnea, et al. 2019).
Some perceive peace as a weakness; however, peace is the responsibility of the leader to cultivate a harmonious workplace. Some may ask: how can we have peace and conflict in the same place? We know conflict can be good; therefore, a workplace without conflict would stifle creativity. Conflict in a harmonious workplace involves respect and trust. Erisman and Daniels (2013) explained that when organizations have “freedom from destructive quarrels and disagreement” they can experience peace.
Patience is important in the workplace. Few employees work well when their boss expects the project to be done right now. Such a demand is not setting the employee up for success. A long-term focus can help a leader have more patience. In doing so, they will deliver project expectations ahead of time and will have routine check-ins to ensure the project is hitting certain milestones. According to Bocarnea, et al. (2018), the virtue of patience is found to have positive effects in business including, but not limited to quality, long-term productivity, pleasantness and ethical behavior.
Have you seen the meme, “in a world where you can be anything, be kind?” Bocarnea, et al. (2018), wrote that “Kindness is a virtue motivated by the desire to do good to others or to manifest brotherly love” (p.71). In the workplace, this can be displayed when a manager is engaged (not disengaged) with their employees, an employee acts benevolently or generously, and when one person goes out of their way to help another person. A kind co-worker is always willing to lend an extra hand or a listening ear.
Goodness is the virtue that promotes an overall concern for another person’s well-being. In lieu of selfish motives, the employee that exudes goodness is selfless with a habit of giving their finances, influence, skills and time to others without expecting anything in return.
Bocarnea, et al. (2013) explained that “without faithfulness, leaders and followers quickly devolve into an uncertain relationship of untrustworthiness that eats away at any long-term organizational sustainability” (p. 98). A faithful leader is one who keeps their word. They show up as expected. And, they see a project through to completion. If you have a leader or co-worker that says they will do something and you know you cannot count on them, there is little faith in that relationship.
Gentleness is also referred to as meekness or humility. A gentle leader is not angry, bad-tempered, brutal, hard, rough or violent. They are also not a pushover. A gentle leader can steer and correct their flock when necessary, they just do so with tact and a humility.
According to Bocarnea, et al. (2018), the virtue of self-control is perhaps “the test of true leadership.” A leader without self-control cannot be trusted; employees will fear them for their emotional outbursts. Erisman and Daniels (2013) wrote that “without self-control, workplaces self-destruct” and described this virtue as the “ability to control one’s emotions, behavior, and desires.”
This three-part series has reviewed servant leadership, spiritual leadership, and the Fruit of the Spirit. Each article provided names and details of surveys that can be administered to your staff or your workplace to help leaders and followers build a more spiritual culture. I highly recommend using these instruments at least annually to see how things are going and make corrections where needed. If I can be of any assistance, please let me know.
Bocarnea, M. C., Henson, J., Huizing, R. L., Mahan, M., & Winston, B. E. (2018). Evaluating employee performance through Christian virtues. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan US. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-74344-8
Erisman, A., & Daniels, D. (2013). The Fruit of the Spirit: Application to performance management. Retrieved from https://issuu.com/houstonbaptistuniv/docs/full_journal.
Dr. Debra J. Dean is President and CEO of Dean Business Consulting and serves as an adjunct professor. She and her husband have six children and three grandchildren. They enjoy spending time outdoors and relishing the beauty of God’s creation.