“Excellence in Exile”: The Importance of Soft Skills in the Workplace (and why they’re really spiritual skills)

There has been a lot of attention lately on the rising importance of soft skills in the workplace.

For those of you who may be wondering what a soft skill is, a soft skill may be better known as “people skills” or “interpersonal skills”. Their counterpart, hard skills, are more concrete. While hard skills are knowledge based — graphic design, plumbing, accounting, etc. — soft skills are more experientially based — things like communication, problem-solving, and time management.

As the corporate environment continues to evolve, organizations are becoming more and more focused on soft skills as an asset that can help an employee stand apart from their peers and advance in their career.

However, with the rise of digital technology, artificial intelligence and remote work, soft skills seem to be in decline. Not only have people not had to develop soft skills, they haven’t been forced to use them.

At one of our recent Faith In Business meetings, I pulled a list of the top seven soft skills and made an interesting discovery. What the business world calls soft skills, I would call spiritual skills. I’m not referring to religious behaviors, or even spiritual knowledge, but rather the application of spiritual concepts that we see throughout Jesus’s life and Biblical teaching.

Unfortunately, I would say one of the greatest errors or failures of the modern Christian experience is when those who profess the faith don’t have a lifestyle that bears its fruit.

For years, Christians have spent time and resources to better understand “spiritual gifts”. But shouldn’t we also be focused on developing the skills that help us harness our gifts and use them effectively? If we’re not careful, these spiritual skills could become a lost art — a disappearing element of our daily practices that help us shape the culture that surrounds us.

As a way to help Christian entrepreneurs and faith-minded business professionals, I’ve listed the top seven spiritual skills below and some corresponding teaching. Regardless of where you find yourself in your faith journey, I would challenge you to consider these, not simply as best practices, but as a sort-of spiritual skill that you can learn, cultivate and grow.

  1. Teamwork

The willingness to be a part of a larger whole is most notably found in Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church when he writes “one body, many parts” (1 Cor. 12:12)

Even Jesus himself had a variety of different groups that he was surrounded with. He had an inner circle of 3, a close circle of 12 to 15 and a larger circle of 72 that ultimately helped him carry out his mission.

In a world of cancel culture and polarized opinions, we have to ask ourselves how well we play with others. Now, I’m fully aware of differing concepts about not being unequally yoked, and there are certainly nuances, but we have to ask ourselves, are we people that value the team over our own agenda?

2. Problem Solving

With the onset of digital resources, our ability to solve problems has been resolved to a quick Google search or the latest self-help book. However, in the book of James, he writes “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God.” (James 1:5)

If there is a certain problem that needs to be solved, how likely are you to pause and ask the Holy Spirit for direction?

How powerful would it be if we began to give testimony to the Lord as the chief problem solver in our organizations?

3. Communication

There’s an old adage that says, “it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.”

It’s very interesting when you study the life of Jesus you see that He was an excellent communicator. As business people, we must not only value what we say, but how we say it, and how intentional we are about our communication practices.

Do we do what we say? Do we follow up in a concise and timely fashion? Are we clear in our delivery? Do we consider our audience when delivering our messages?

There is a certain intentionality that is demanded of us as followers of Jesus, and how we communicate says everything about who we truly hope to glorify.

4. Adaptability

I think a lot of people would say that they are adaptable until things don’t go the way they had planned. That’s because being adaptable requires a certain element of letting go — a loss of control.

This can be challenging for those who are planners or those who like to micromanage, and I think a lot of us struggle because we don’t trust people. But ultimately, isn’t it our responsibility to trust the Lord?

Being adaptable has a lot to do with being willing to compromise. We don’t ever want to compromise our faith or our convictions, but we must be willing to compromise our agenda and see a higher perspective.

If you want to find out how adaptable you are, how do you respond when you don’t get your way or when things don’t go how you had planned?

5. Critical Thinking

In one of his New Testament letters, the Apostle Paul writes “test everything”. Elsewhere he encourages his followers to engage in the process of “discernment”.

Critical thinking, much like problem-solving, requires an element of being willing to slow down and think before taking action. In a world that demands quick results, it’s easy to overlook how those results are actually obtained — the fastest solution is rarely the best solution. In addition, in a world shrouded in deception, we have to be willing to “test” the information we’re given.

To engage our capacity for critical thinking, we must learn to be objective and take our emotions out of the situation. This requires a great deal of self-control, which is, as you know, a fruit of the Spirit.

6. Time Management

Of all the people that I have discussed this concept with, time management seems to be the most difficult for business professionals to grasp. But if you break it down, time is a gift that we are given each day. The question is, how well do we steward that which we have been given?

Time management and efficiency flow out of our priorities. If our priorities are not firmly established, we end up allowing less important things to dictate how we spend our time.

Interestingly enough, God is the creator of time and even promises to redeem time. So, how we use and view our time says everything about how we view Him and how He wants to use us.

The apostle Paul encourages us to, “make the most of your time”.

Do you?

7. Interpersonal

The last soft skill is a general grouping of interpersonal skills that determine how we connect to, relate to, and engage with those around us. 

Quite honestly, this may be the area where most “Christians” fail. I don’t say that as condemnation, but rather as a challenge for us to give consideration to how those around us experience us.

If you look at the fruit of the spirit listed in Galatians, you see that “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” are listed as tangible proof that someone is engaging the Spirit-led life.

Do your coworkers think of you as a joyful person? Are you the employee that is known for kindness to others? This isn’t simply about being a nice guy or gal, it’s about whose image you bear.

If you profess a Christian faith but don’t actually bear the fruit in your relationships, perhaps there’s an opportunity for growth. Again, this isn’t about correct behavior, it’s about being honest with the application of our faith — not just merely our church attendance, or even our profession of faith.

Does your life truly reflect what you say you believe?


In closing, rather than evangelize the office by quoting scripture, leaving tracks, or even inviting coworkers to a religious event, consider how cultivating these soft skills might give you the opportunity to be more excellent at what you do.

In the book of Daniel, we see a man who was placed in exile in Babylon. He is a Hebrew man living in a foreign culture. However, he climbs to positions of authority because the scripture says “an excellent spirit was found in him”. 

As I read the about the life of Daniel, the phrase “excellence in exile” comes to mind.

In a postmodern Christian world, perhaps we should take Daniel’s approach and become excellent in exile.

Let us allow our excellence be the thing that God uses to influence the culture around us instead of constantly being burdened by it.


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