When one of your employees is consistently late or talks trash about others, what do you do? Do you let it slide because she is a top performer? Do you make excuses for her because she might not know better? Do you fire her so as to send a message to the rest of your co-workers? 

One of things we are talking about at the OPEN Huddles this year is discipleship. How are we discipling both believers and our co-workers? Two key thoughts about discipleship: (i) discipleship is a relationship, (ii) discipleship is rooted in discipline.

Discipleship is a Relationship

When relationships are strong, the practice of discipline becomes much more comfortable. This is the strength of the relationships with individuals on their team. In evaluating your team and/or work environment consider these factors:

  • Transparency – do your people truly trust one another?
  • Fun – do co-workers enjoy being with one another; is there workspace fun?
  • Excellence – do co-workers own the goals and values of your workplace?
  • Communication – how much do co-workers seek out input from one another and encourage discussion on both work issues and non-work struggles?

Relationships require time. Quality time helps, but quantity time is better. Time is needed to grow and strengthen your people. We need to invest in our people by making time for them to build relationships. 

Discipleship is Rooted in Discipline

Many perceive discipline as a negative, or a punishment. In reality, discipline is what you do for someone, not to someone. The word disciple comes from the word discipline. A disciple is a learner. Too often we forget that discipline means to teach, not to punish. A disciple is a student, not a recipient of behavioral consequences.

Discipline is intended to promote standards; standards that encourage a person or business to be their best. Discipline enables us to set high standards for what’s expected and then keep us accountable to achieving those standards. Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell was right when he stated, “The essence of leadership is holding your people to the highest possible standard while taking the best possible care of them.”

The best leaders understand the importance of discipline. It is essential to set a really high bar and to care. You must hold yourself and the entire team accountable for meeting and exceeding the standards. There’s an over used yet excellent saying, “People don’t do what you expect, they do what you inspect.” Make it a habit to inspect what you expect so everyone knows you are truly interested and care. When a co-worker fails, meets, or exceeds the standard, follow up. Share with them your disapproval, or acknowledge their achievement and give them praise.



PATRICK LAI and his family have worked in SE Asia for over 37 years. His experience in doing business with Jesus has brought him to understand the meaning of work and worship in the marketplace. He started 14 businesses in four countries, six of which are still operating. Patrick and his wife, May, mentor and coach businesspeople working where there are few or no Christians. Check out Patrick’s latest book, Workship, now available in paperback and e-book.

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