When I lived in the Pacific Northwest, one of my routines was to venture to Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle on Saturday mornings. Not only was it fun to pick out fresh fish for Saturday dinners, but the fish market employees also brought such joy and fun to the experience. They would literally toss trout and salmon through the air to each other, to customers, to anyone who would frolic in their game.
I never considered working in a fish market, but I did imagine what it would be like to have such fun in the workplace. By engaging customers and onlookers, these fish slingers brought energy and enthusiasm that was contagious throughout Pike’s Place. These principles can be applied to any type of job, including ministry. Here are some ideas for maintaining a positive attitude in your work and how that can affect the overall attitude of your church body.
The Principles of Fish! Philosophy
According to Fish! Philosophy, “There is always a choice about the way you do your work, even if there is not a choice about the work itself.” More specifically:
- Choose Your Attitude: If you choose to be positive, energized, and engaged, you are more productive and a better coworker.
- Play: Consider which work-related activities you can spice up with energy, creativity, and enthusiasm.
- Make Their Day: Think about the ways you engage your coworkers and the people you serve in a way to make their day. This concept is contagious and gets paid forward.
- Be There: Be fully present at work and focus on what other people need.
Though the Bible obviously doesn’t talk about Fish! Philosophy, it does teach us many of the same principles.
- Choose Your Attitude: See Proverbs 17:22: “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” God encourages us to approach our work joyfully, not with grumbling.
- Play: See Exodus 15:20: “Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women went out after her with tambourines and dancing.” In many parts of Scripture, we see God’s people having fun—dancing, singing, and playing instruments to praise Him. He likes when His people are having fun praising Him!
- Make Their Day: See 1 Thessalonians 5:11: “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” Serve others and take care of them. Help them feel good.
- Be There: See Luke 10:25–37, the parable of the Good Samaritan. When someone needs you, focus your attention on them in order to help them. Treat each person as if their thoughts and feelings truly matter to you.
Fish! Philosophy in Action at Your Church
It can be so easy to feel exhausted just walking into your office in the morning. Maybe you’ve got a large ministry staff to manage, or maybe you’re the sole worker at your church and it feels like the whole place rides on your shoulders. What kinds of changes can you make to keep your attitude positive even when you don’t feel positive about what you have to do? Here are some ideas:
- Choose Your Attitude: Write down your favorite Scripture verse and stick it somewhere you’ll see every morning, like your bathroom mirror or the top of your computer monitor. Set a daily reminder on your computer to think of one thing you’re looking forward to at work.
- Play: Think of some of the regular tasks you have to do and how you can make them more interesting. Challenge yourself to come up with a different layout for the weekly bulletin. Write your monthly newsletter article in a different style or format than usual. Blast your favorite music while vacuuming the fellowship hall every Monday morning or make it an imaginary battle against your favorite childhood sci-fi villain.
- Make Their Day: Bring in a little treat for the rest of the staff, take them out for a surprise lunch, or leave everyone a little thank-you note telling them something you appreciate about them.
- Be There: When you speak with someone, give them your full attention and try to see things from their perspective. Make eye contact and truly listen.
Expanding Fish! Philosophy to Your Entire Church
Start by practicing these principles with other staff members. Not only will this give you opportunities to make mistakes and learn from them, but it will also help build comradery and a sense of teamwork among staff members. When the ministry staff has a solid foundation in working together, it can achieve much more when serving the church’s members.
Then start applying these same principles in your interactions with members. When you share your positive attitude with others, it becomes contagious. Though change is slow, hopefully after some time you will notice a shift in the way people behave at church and how they interact with each other.
The Fish! Philosophy is based on the book Fish!: A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results by Stephen C. Lundin, Ph.D., Harry Paul, and John Christensen © 2000 Hachette Book Group.
Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.