A few weeks back I delivered a sermon about getting further, getting ahead, and beating your competition. It's downloadable here, and part of our Work & Spirituality series at Woven, "Sanctifying Monday to Friday". Yes, I'm providing my cutting-edge, biblically-based, industry-shattering secrets that will result in you going farther than you ever have, all if you buy my book for $19.95 and PLUS! I'll throw in this keychain flashlight!
In all seriousness, yes; advancement at work was the sermon topic. But the secret is actually in one word: humility. It is completely counter-intuitive and not the way the world does things. It is not Machiavellian, quicker, more clever, faster, more cunning, more ruthless; it does not market better, nor beat out, nor edge out the competition.
Pause. Perhaps you're reading this after a fresh high, on your commute home. You one-upped someone. You feel good about it. You got to the boss quicker. You made your move. It was glorious. What is this pastor talking about?
"Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?" (Dan 4:30)
His madness was self-inflicted. We, humanity, can be so fickle. On days of woe, we blame others. On days of blessing, we take credit ourselves. This is foolishness. Take no credit for myself; be proud not, O my soul - for God gives, and he takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. And worship Him. Be thankful, and grateful, for our simple daily bread. Glory not in fame and successes.
So how do we truly - from a spiritual sense - advance at work? How do we get ahead?
1. STOP THE LOOKING
Chad le Clos in the video above serves as excellent metaphor. His actual race was spent the whole while looking sideways; askance at Phelps. He didn't even medal. As a layman when it comes to swimming, my guess is all that jerking sideways with his head ruined his form. Messed up his stroke. What a metaphor for life. Keep looking at the competition. You ruin your own game. Spirituality at work begins when we stop the looking, and do our own thing well, what God has gifted us to do. If we are inflamed with covetousness and comparison, this is impossible. That is when we must fire up the gratitude:
2. START UP THE GRATITUDE
I have envy. I have covetousness. Yes. Ambition. We are not immune to it. I find the only medicine that works is the slow-release of gratitude. In my experience there is simply nothing else. Nothing else will soothe the coveting inflammation quicker than a slow, regular dose of gratitude. It will ease the pain. Better yet, taking gratitude as a preventative measure, like a baby aspirin daily - will keep the headache of envy at bay.
Write down 30 things you are grateful for. Go ahead. Do that every day for a week. See how you feel then.
God blesses YOU today. Why are you looking at what He did for the other? Forget that; ingratitude is comparison run amok. St. Ignatius of Loyola recognized this: such a terrible sin is ingratitude - it fails to recognize the manifold graces of God to us today.
3. DO THE NEXT RIGHT THING - DON'T TRY TO BEAT THE DEVIL AT HIS OWN GAME
We try to compete - market better - beat them at their own game. It works for awhile, until they figure out how to beat you too. It is a life-sucking pursuit. When we live by the adage, "might makes right" we die by that same adage; we will be beaten, crushed by it. God's rule still stands - "right makes blessing" - even "right makes might" because in the end, rightness is meekness. Smallness. Humility. This is what God elevates in His kingdom. Try to be anything else - faster, sleeker, shrewder, more cunning - we will be undone.
So I hope these industry secrets help you today.
I share these thoughts with the world in the hopes that it will help someone at work today, and exorcise my own flaws in these areas; I myself need gratitude daily.
May God grace your workplace with you; may God redeem heaven on earth through your labor; and may you turn your city into a veritable Garden once again.
Take a listen here. And drop me a line letting me know how you are advancing at work today. #sanctifyMONtoFRI