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3 ways to counter a cut-throat workplace

Whenever it came time for a performance review during the early part of my career, I could pretty much predict what my manager was going to tell me. Inevitably, I would be told that I was a good, solid performer, but I lacked a degree of confidence or enthusiasm. More than one manager suggested that I take a Dale Carnegie course to help build my leadership skills. My apparent lack of boldness was considered a detriment to my career. I considered this advice but concluded that I was not going to change my personality just to get ahead in my career. Rather than forcing an arbitrary career path, I decided that I would focus first on trying to discern God’s will for me; and if I was successful in this task, then confidence and enthusiasm would evolve more naturally.

Do you sometimes feel uncomfortable with what you do at work? Do you see yourself in any of these situations?

•  If you are a leader, are you expected to be domineering in order to control your subordinates?

•  Do you feel a need to constantly compete with co-workers in order to advance?

•  Do you feel forced into a career path that doesn’t suit you but you keep plugging away because it’s expected?

We are conditioned in the workplace to be tough – and sometimes unfeeling – in order to be successful. But Christ teaches us another path, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.” (Matthew 5:5). Does this beatitude imply that we just be a doormat for everyone at work? Not at all. As I’ve mentioned in previous columns, the purpose of our work is to help build God’s kingdom on earth. I think that it is our duty to aggressively pursue that mission.

Being meek at work means that we need to establish a disposition of humility not weakness:

1 As leaders, we must seek to serve rather than dominate and control.

2 As co-workers, we should look to collaborate for everyone’s success rather than compete for individual success.

3 As individuals, we must submit ourselves to God’s plan for us rather than a selfish desire for material success.

In the logic of our temporal culture this may sound like weakness, but as Paul wrote in his second letter to the Corinthians (12:9): “God’s power is made perfect in weakness. When we allow ourselves to be submissive (meek) to God’s will in our work, this is when we receive our true inheritance ... God’s kingdom.”