let me first say that i don’t have many/any rules for my blog. i try not to censor myself and i try to let it be a free-flowing thought stream, of sorts. other than that, really, i don’t have any “rules.” as close to a rule as i get, though, is a decision to not talk about work-related matters too much. it’s no big deal to talk about general work issues, but i make it a rule to never talk about advertisers (being that i’m an advertising art director at a publishing company) and never talk about co-workers in a way that is denigrating or harmful to work/personal relationships. (as a humorous/not-so-humorous sidenote, there’s actually a quasi-term for people who get fired for what they say on their blog. several years ago, heather armstrong coined the term dooced after experiencing just that. so…i shall not do things that lead to my subsequent doocing….) 🙂
with that said, let me very generically relay a conversation i overheard today at work that really bothered me. basically, i heard a coworker excitedly tell another coworker that one of our competitors was going out of business. with great, arm-waving giddyness—which is far from normal for this person—this coworker told of the demise of this company and how he/she had been waiting for this for a long time.
i couldn’t hear the entire conversation (and i thought it might be in my best interest to not be a total jerk of an eavesdropper…), but i believe that was the basic gist of the exchange and that i’ve been fair in relaying the story.
before i say anything more, let me offer a few a clarifiers. first of all, the person who initiated this exchange is a good person. an honest person. an ethical person. quite possibly, a christian person. i don’t know this person extremely well, but i think it’s fair to assume this person isn’t a vengeful person. where i might go out on a limb, though, is that i believe this person is motivated by something of which i cannot identify (by and large…but i’ll get to this in a moment…).
another thing worth mentioning is that i work for a great company full of great people. i am very thankful for my job and the people who i work with. i work with hard working people who are dedicated and talented and, for the most part, people i now consider friends above coworkers. while i’ve certainly struggled at times with the world of advertising which is so consumeristic and so, when i say these things, they certainly aren’t meant to call out the great coworkers by which i am surrounded every day.
ok…there are the caveats…here’s the deal…
what greatly disturbed me about the conversation was the value and motivation that seemed to be at play. what seemed to be true in that moment and in the business world in general is the extreme desire to beat others. to enjoy success at the defeat of others. trust me, i’m one of the most competitive people you’ll ever meet (which can be to my detriment), but competitiveness is (generally) ok when it comes to playing a game of h.o.r.s.e. or ping pong or trivial pursuit. when it’s people’s careers and livelihoods and life’s work, that’s a whole other matter.
scripture speaks to this exchange and this issue.
the very famous 13th chapter of 1 corinthians speaks to an ethic of love that is the ultimate reality. the message
beautifully states that
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel…
the last line is a beautiful ethic of empathy and love and mercy. when others fail, we shouldn’t rejoice—even if they are our “competitor” or our “enemy.” as the songwriting prophet derek webb sings, my enemies are men like me... such powerful and true words.
when i hear that one of our competitors has folded, all i can think is, “when’s it our turn?” truly, if our enemies are just like us, then that means our day is coming. it may not be next week or next year or even in my lifetime, but everything has a life cycle. when we become prideful and brash, it only worsens the pain of the inevitable fall.
now, let me just take a moment to point out the fact that, much like others issues i may bring to light here on the blog or any other areas of life, when i point a finger at others, i have 3 pointing back at me. i try not to “revel when others grovel,” but i can be the first to take pleasure in others’ suffering and lash out when “enemies” enjoy success. now, i would like to think that i don’t do it in vindictive ways or in truly important matters in life, but i can certainly identify in certain areas—whether it be as trivial as sports or as grave as the success/failure of other pastors.
the point of all this mad banter is just to say that when we apply an ethic of love and humility and empathy, we certainly don’t “revel when others grovel.” there is something greater in life than making an extra dollar or winning or being king. be it life or business or relationships, there is something much greater and much more beautiful.
finally, let me just re-emphasize that this isn’t to “pick on” or call out my incredible place of employment or my wonderful coworkers. this conversation, like others, was just the launching point for my ever-simmering brain stew of theological ponderings. 🙂