‘Tis the season. Both the big screen and local stages portray the classic tale, A Christmas Carol. At a pivotal point in the plot, Tiny Tim share his now-famous line, “God bless us, every one!” Such sentiment served as the antithesis of Scrooge’s own humbug. Original readers of Dickens’ tale were moved by the frail yet endearing boy’s optimistic plea, and future audiences have continued to be stirred. In my own family, any characters that dare to be grumpy during December are mocked with a sarcastic “humbug!” They quickly get the message. “Straighten up thy attitude!”
Consider how Dickens’ choice of words might motivate us as leaders in our workplaces and evoke a current-day response. How often we just breeze past the word bless, relegating it for consoling nearby sneezers or impressively accompanying churchy comments. I am afraid we give it little deeper consideration for everyday application. Meaning for this rich Hebrew word bless is explained by one scholar like this: “An enduing with power for success, prosperity, and longevity. . . . a blessing that confers abundant and effective living upon something or someone.” Here’s a synthesis of this definition, perhaps a bit more memorable way to express what it means to bless:
We bless when “we give more deeply so others can live more fully”—so someone or a group of people can thrive—truly flourish.
In his winsome book on business and faith integration, Jeff Van Duzer describes one of the primary aims of business —intentionally contributing to what he dubs human flourishing. With such bigger perspective, leaders who are seeking to integrate their faith in holistic ways deliberately correlate their own everyday work with the potential for profound flourishing, helping greater life emerge for their employees, coworkers, clients, and other business contacts. As Scrooge discovered just in time for Christmas morning, the bottom line in business becomes even bigger than the thrill of “a lot of buying and selling.” Through intentionally giving of our time, training, coaching, money, encouraging words, a listening ear, creative leadership, and overall energy, we intentionally engage in the business of blessing!
On the Saturday afternoon before Christmas, when I was ten years old, Dad and I walked downhill to the intersection at the bottom of our road, to visit the local barber. For a brief era, we lived in this dismally depressed coalmine town—Monongah, WV. Though our own family’s finances were stunningly meager, Mom insisted both her boys look good for Christmas Sunday services. We found the barber in jovial spirits, quite talkative regarding his own anticipation of the coming week’s festivities. Dad went first for his cut, followed by my turn in the chair, which included a classic boost-up on the vinyl-covered board to raise my height. As he worked his scissors and clippers, he buzzed me with kind questions about my hopes and anticipations for Christmas week. Once my ears were lowered, Dad surrendered cash to the barber, $3 per head. Though I do not recall doing any whining or grumbling, in hindsight, I realize the joy-filled barber must have sniffed out our family’s economic condition. He placed Dad’s $6 in his register till. Then he wisped out a crisp ten-dollar bill, folded it twice and shook my hand, pressing the amazing gift into my palm. He grinned and said, “Please buy your mom and grandma something special.” He had listened, sensed, and then he blessed. (‘stunning to realize, based on inflation approximations, this was something like handing a kid a fifty today) I have never forgotten that moment of generosity.
How will your workplace be a blessing business this season? I hope we can all join Ebenezer, Tiny Tim, and the benevolent barber of my childhood. May we not only speak the blessing, but also schedule the extra moments, slow down to listen, share words of hope, risk some extra capital, and more strategically invest in people. With hearts and souls determined to help others flourish, let’s truly work with God.
“God bless us, every one!”
Harris, Theological Wordbook, 132.
 Van Duzer, Why Business Matters (and What Still Needs to Be Fixed), IVP, 2010.