In simple terms, organizational citizenship behavior basically refers to “being civil or polite with regard to others in an organization” (Konopaske et al., 2017, p. 200). Does this describe the culture of the organizations to which you belong? Does it characterize you? Are you a good organizational citizen? Do you help others become better organizational citizens?
(Now that I have begun a PhD program in organizational leadership, I will use my monthly blog to discuss leadership theories and offer practical application in ways that will help the Church accomplish the Mission.)
The Apostle Paul opened and closed his letter to the Philippian church talking about good citizenship (1:27; 3:20). He emphasized their heavenly citizenship as Christians; yet, he played off of their pride (in a positive sense) of being good citizens of their city and the Roman empire.
Philippians 1:27 ESV (modified) “Just one thing: behave as citizens [Gk., politeuesthe] worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in the One Spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.”
The Philippians prided themselves on being Roman citizens. But as Christians, they were to be proud of their heavenly citizenship even moreso. The Apostle Paul was playing off of, and playing against, their Roman citizenship, just like we do in the American church, and churches around the world do, as well. As Christians, we posses dual citizenship (as Martin Luther taught); we are members of two kingdoms at the same time—Christ’s heavenly kingdom and some earthly kingdom (political entity).
We are already citizens of heaven, because of Christ’s righteousness, and will live there eventually (cf. Ephesians 2:19). For now, we are governed by Christ as a “colony of heavenly citizens” (as one biblical dictionary put it) here on earth as “aliens” (1 Peter). And He is ruling from heaven with all power all things on behalf of His Church. Our future should be strongly guiding our present lives.
Philippians 3:17, 20 ESV “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. . . . For our citizenship [Gk., politeuma] is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,”
We are eagerly waiting a Savior from heaven, the Lord, Jesus Christ. This is a direct reference to Caesar Augustus and his imperial titles of “Lord” and “Savior.” He was called the “Savior of the world” because of bringing order and peace throughout the civilized Roman world. But, Jesus Christ, the True Lord and Savior, will return to this earth from heaven as the True Emperor of All. He will deliver us from our suffering and fears and trials in this world—He is our hope!
Daily Life Citizenship
Let’s return now to Konopaske’s et al. (2017) definition of organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) as referring to “being civil or polite with regard to others in an organization.” After reviewing the Apostle Paul’s correspondence with the Philippian church, this seems so basic, and truly a simple reality for Christians to live out at their places of employment, in their churches, and within their mission organizations.
Podsakoff et al. (1990) described OCB as discretionary behavior by an employee that goes beyond the role requirements of one’s job. Think about your job—your secular job, your job at church, your job in the mission, and your job in whatever other organizations you belong to. Podsakoff et al. identified five key dimensions of OCB:
- Altruism, which refers to helping others;
- Conscientiousness, which refers to exceeding minimum role requirements;
- Sportsmanship, which refers to toleration without complaining;
- Courtesy, which refers to prevention of problems; and
- Civic Virtue, which refers to taking an active part in the life of the organization.
What if we as citizens of the kingdom of God lived out, and encouraged others to live out, such recognized concepts of OCB in our workplaces, churches, and missions as part of the worthy behavior of Philippians 1:27? What difference do you think this would this make?
Konopaske, R., Ivancevich, J. M., & Matteson, M. T. (2017). Organizational behavior and management (11th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Education.
Podsakoff, P. M., MacKenzie, S. B., Moorman, R. H., & Fetter, R. (1990). Transformational leader behaviors and their effects on followers’ trust in leader, satisfaction, and organizational citizenship behaviors. Leadership Quarterly, 1(2), 107-142.