I got chatting today with one of our sales managers who was telling me about her personal development plans. I love it when leaders in the organization are willing to talk about how they would like to grow! IOn addition to our development plans at work, there’s one arena in which all of us can grow that will help us develop into stonger Christian workplace leaders, brought to us (ironically) from Francis de Sales.
Francis de Sales is not, as you might imagine, the patron saint of salespersons. Rather, he was a French Jesuit priest that later became the bishop of Geneva. He lived in the late 16th and early 17th centuries and was a prolific writer who used metaphors to deliver important points. In the following writings, he wrote to Philothea, which actually refers to all of us (the term means “one who loves God”), about living a life of devotion to God.
“Another person thinks himself devout because he daily recites a vast number of prayers, but after saying them he utters the most disagreeable, arrogant, and harmful words at home and among the neighbors. Another gladly takes a coin out of his purse and gives it to the poor, but he cannot extract kindness from his heart to forgive his enemies. Another forgives his enemies but never pays his creditors unless compelled to do so by force of law. All of these individuals are usually considered to be devout, but they are by no means such.”
Frances de Sales pushes us – Philothea – to evaluate our devotion to God by our charitable behaviors. By “charitable”, he isn’t just referring to giving to the poor, but the degree to which we lovingly act as an agent of God and offer help to others when able to do so.
“Since devotion consists in a certain degree of eminent charity, it not only makes us prompt, active, and faithful in observance of God’s commands, but in addition it arouses us to do quickly and lovingly as many good works as possible, both those commanded and those merely counseled or inspired.”
Note that Francis de Sales sees these good works in the proper perspective – not a means to salvation but an outgrowth of those who truly love God and devote themselves to pleasing him. If we develop these devotional traits, we’ll certainly realize a level of personal development and life balance that no corporate training program could possibly produce.
“Devotion must be exercised in different ways by the gentleman, the worker, the servant, the prince, the widow, the young girl, and the married woman. Not only is this true, but the practice of devotion must also be adapted to the strength, activities, and duties of each particular person.
So also every vocation becomes more agreeble when united with devotion. Care of ones family is rendered more peaceable, love of husband and wife more sincere, service of one’s prince (government) more faithful, and every type of employment more pleasant and agreeable.”