Childish Workplace Behavior Elicited by “Offended” Culture

Mass murders or extreme violence are often reported in the national news. Such extremes mask the growing mass of coarse and uncivil behavior not considered newsworthy. But now, growing national immaturity has become an important story. Consider this from CBS News:

Office life: business team having a fight

“According to the poll (conducted by CareerBuilder) of over 2,500 hiring and human resources managers as well as more than 3,000 adult employees across a wide spectrum of industries and companies, “adolescent” behaviors such as whining, pouting and temper tantrums are an all-too-common occurrence in U.S. offices and other work spaces.

More than three-quarters of the employees polled said they’ve witnessed some type of childish behavior among their colleagues. More than half, 55 percent, said they’ve dealt with whining, and 46 percent have watched other employees openly pout over events that didn’t go their way.”

For the last 50 years, a growing body of common law has unleashed the brute force of government to require people to do this… or not do that…, because somebody, somewhere “might” be offended.

Anyone who has ever been married knows that it is nearly impossible to get through more than a few days without offending your spouse—the one who is closer to you than anyone in the universe. If occasionally offending your spouse is inevitable, it is not possible to live life without occasionally offending people, whether it is intentional or inadvertent.

Most of the time, being offended is a mark of immaturity or childishness in this context. A mature person of good character will deliberately choose NOT to be offended, regardless of what others say or do.

I have often told groups of people that my joy comes from the Lord and nothing anyone says or does will deprive me of that joy. The comment can be very disarming and allows people to relax and enjoy a conversation free from anxiety.

Sadly, the American culture has, for decades, rewarded claims of being offended. If one or a group whines loud enough, they are often given what they want to shut them up or maintain an uneasy peace. Our culture has learned to reward weak character.

The government set the pace; business sheepishly followed. Anyone in business knows that you get more of whatever is rewarded. Childish behavior is often rewarded. The result is that it grows. Today, it is careening out of control.

The childish behavior and its rewards continue to grow because today many managers have grown up in the same dysfunctional culture as their usually younger employees. In addition, there has been a growing popularity of 360-degree evaluations in business, education, and government. The well-known concept provides a formal mechanism for employees to evaluate their peers, bosses, and subordinates. Consequently, the mangers become Neville Chamberlain peace-at-any-price supervisors, rewarding whiners to shut them up or risk a negative evaluation.

Is there a solution? Of course there is! As always, it is found in the Holy Scriptures. We cannot stop others from whining or complaining, but the Bible is very clear about how we should respond:

“The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks what is just.” [Psalm 37:30 NIV] “Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” [Proverbs 4:6-7 NIV] “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.” [1 Peter 3:10 NIV]

A mature manager or employee knows that, “Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.” [2 Peter 3:3 NIV] Proverbs 3:34 says that God “scoffs at the scoffers, yet He gives grace to the afflicted.” [ESV]

Scripture proclaims God’s ideal behavior, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” [Ephesians 4:29 ESV] Finally, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” [1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV]

But citing Scripture verses is not sufficient. It is merely an intellectual exercise. The passages do not incite action until they are soul-deep. When they are instinctively and routinely acted upon, we call it maturity.

There is not instant road to maturity. In each person, it must begin during earliest childhood. Real biological parents who are not absentee parents and the clergy must together instill positive character, beginning with small children and continuing throughout their lifetime. The very survival of the American culture depends on it. The American culture depends on YOU.

What does it take to wake up the body of believers?

What does it take to wake up the clergy?

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