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The Gift of Family | Lize Moldenhauer

I have, for most of my working life, had the immense pleasure of working with amazing people. There are various unique individuals that I remember to this day, as they made a lasting impact on my life and helped shaped me into the person I am today. With fondness and love, I remember Nono, who took me under her wing and trained me as a a novice casual worker. Mark, who was the first person to train me in a formal training programme, and who would later be my last manager before I resigned from my corporate job in financial services. Peter, my first manager, who I very arrogantly asked for a permanent job. Elize, who guided me through a change in career direction. Elaine, who recruited me to Learning and Development and in doing so was instrumental in my career trajectory. Merle, who allowed me the grace to pursue my visions of more within the confines of a corporate framework. Brenton, a colleague who prayed for me, and in a period of immense challenge, obediently shared that God told him to tell me to read Isaiah 54; little did he know that that scripture would have a profound impact on my life over the years and even become part of my testimony. Even as I am writing this, I realise that I will never be able to capture all the special people of my working life, but the reason for me sharing this is not a homage of thanks to everyone – although I do believe I need to make the time to do a deep dive into the beautiful memories and  the gratefulness I have for the impact people have had on my life – but rather, this is an opportunity to share with you how I have experienced the wonderful gift of family at work.

Yes, I know, the studies show that there is a toxic effect if we brand our workplace as a family. I am aware of the pitfalls of a “family work culture”. Aspects like blind loyalty, co-dependency and blurred lines could be just some of the aspects we could potentially open ourselves up to when we frame our working environment as family. However, consider this: 46% of professionals around the world believe that having friends at work enhances their overall happiness. Building bonds with others can make us feel more connected, which, in turn, can help boost productivity and engagement. Especially in a world where we are the most connected whilst being totally disconnected. Social platforms and remote working have led to a connected world of isolated and lonely people. Leaders today need to find ways to engage and build relationships that will enhance the well-being of their people.

Forming friendships with our colleagues better stimulates us throughout our working day, it offers a sense of value and belonging in the workplace and increases our ability to remain present. Being friends with our co-workers mitigates engagement issues (isolation) and allows us to feel more immersed in our work. We are building our relationship capital. We are encouraging a level of connectedness. People flourish and grow in these environments. And growth allows for us to celebrate when one of our family members moves on as God Directs to new chapters within their journey. Therefore, the gift of family at work is the relational nature of the relationships, wanting the absolute best for each other, and NOT the toxic aspects of unclear boundaries and dysfunctionality.

I look at the beautiful gift God gave me nearly 20 years ago in the shape of four incredible women who started my entrepreneurship journey with me. I am proud of the fact that I can call them sisters, friends, colleagues, my team. They are my GIFT. They are individuals I am immensely grateful for, and they have shaped me in more ways than I can express. They have gone to battle with me, we have mended each other’s wounds, we have shared victories, we have walked together on roads paved with loss and sorrow. How, when this is my reality, when this is the context of the people that work the closest with me, can I not call them family?

I love them for who they are. For the women they are. For the pillars of strength they have become. For the integrity they have. For the passion they have. For the devotion they have towards our staff and larger community. For their love of our Heavenly Father. We are connected, woven together in a unique way. From the outside it might be difficult to comprehend, but God has placed us on each other’s paths for a special plan and purpose.

I would not be where I am today without the gift of Cassandra, Cindy, Megan and Sharon. These individuals helped shape me. They are direct contributors to my growth and are instrumental in the journey I am on as person. I am grateful for my gifts and for the privilege I have in knowing them.

Maybe take a moment and reflect on the people who have crossed your path. Can you identify those who  played a significant role in your development and growth? Can you see the value of having wise counsel? Individuals that will hold you to a higher standard. Can you see how family bonds could be formed in healthy working relationship?

Reflection is the opportunity to recognize the gifts we have. The gifts of colleagues that can become friends and that could be family.

Proverbs 13 verse 20:Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm”. NRSV

Proverbs 27 verse 17: “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another”. ESV

Proverbs 17 verse 17: “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity”. ESV

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