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Righteous Irritation

August 17, 2008

I recently read Kiersten Mitchell’s blog of the Brazen Careerist about using anger to get ahead in the workplace. Her point is that sometimes anger can be a healthy driver for “proving yourself” as you work your way through your career.

Upon reading this, my first impression was, “Wow, I just finished a blog posting about Stabucks and loving your customer. And now I feel like your blog is going to kick my blog’s ass.” But then I started thinking, well, maybe she’s right — during the early days of one’s career, while you are clawing your way to the top, the very thought of proving someone else wrong can be a great motivator. She has a good point.

Kiersten was talking about it as kind of a righteous anger: “Hey! You dare to underestimate me?! You just wait and see what I’m capable of!” I admit, this attitude had something to do with my own drive to achieve my personal career heights, too. It does work. I had one boss who I swore was going to work for me one day. He was a complete idiot. His idiocy proved to be such an inspiration to my career, that it sustained me for several years at an extremely innovative high-performance level. If nothing else, I just wanted to continually show the rest of the organization what a dope he was, without having to come out and say it. These things have a way of showing themselves over time. And where’s the love in that, those of you who read my last blog entry may very well ask? Well…I never disrespected him publicly, I never gossiped about him maliciously, and I made him look good. I just kept my head down and trusted God with the outcome. So there you go. When I eventually leapfrogged that job for a much better one (one that was about three levels higher than his), he begged me to stay and keep him propped up. What was he going to do without me? It was sweet. Righteous, really. And the truth is, if he walked into my office today begging me for a job, I wouldn’t hire him. Because he’s still a dope.

Righteous career anger is hopefully behind me for the time being, since I’ve somehow managed to make it to the executive suite and all. But Kiersten’s blog posting got me thinking about the kind of anger that I do experience in my everyday work-life. Well, not anger, but more like irritation, I guess. You know, the frustration that comes from dealing with people all day long, every day.

No matter what kind of work you do, being irritated by annoying, impulsive and incompetent people comes with the job. As long as there are human beings involved, no matter what kind of organization you are working in, no matter what your position, or your mission, as long as you are working with people and not animals, there will be trouble. It’s part of organizational life.

I often wonder about Jesus, if he ever got annoyed with his employees. I mean, he had the brain of the Supreme Being, yet he was basically working with a band of lug-heads for three years. So don’t you think it’s only natural that the Holy One would get irritated once in a while?

Of course we are all familiar with the most famous Jesus-outburst, which is “the cleansing of the temple” story when he got so mad that he pushed over all the tables of the money-changers. This is recorded in every gospel, so it must have made a big impression on people. But I wonder if he ever got annoyed over more mundane things, perhaps not quite so noble as protecting the holiness of God? Like, say, I don’t know…maybe because someone was acting like an idiot?

It must have happened, though, because he spent three long years with this motley crew of disciples, who I’m sure thought they signed on for some great political revolution instead of lessons in spiritual humility. Remember James and John’s mother asking if her sons could sit one on his right hand and one on the left of His throne? She’s already picking out the fabric for her new palace gown because she’s thinking her sons are soon going to be ruling the kingdom of Israel, not heaven. That’s what they talked about with Mom over dinner. And let’s be honest – it’s not like those disciples had much going on for themselves, so Jesus’ offer probably looked pretty adventurous. They were basically poor blue-collar guys just trying to make a living from one day to the next. Except for the tax collector and the treasurer, but everyone hated them. How could that have been any kind of life? And I’m sure that Jesus was very magnetic and charming. And smart! So who wouldn’t be completely flattered to be personally invited by this up and coming famous leader to join Team Jesus and take over the world? I know that’s not what Jesus said, but that’s probably what those disciples were thinking when he said “Come on, and let’s be fishers of men.” Catching men instead of fish? With you? Cool!

But then he’s living with them for three years, and they are so thick-headed and probably bickering all the time with each other. They must have gotten on each others’ nerves. And you know the guys like Peter and Judas, with their stubborn, controlling and impulsive personalities, they were probably telling Jesus what to do all the time. How could Jesus not get completely aggravated with these guys at some point? No wonder he went off to the woods by himself in the middle of the night to pray, or he took off on a boat to cross the sea without telling anyone. What do you think he was praying for? “Dear Lord Father, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE knock some sense into their heads! These people are driving me crazy! I need a break!”

More to come in the next posting!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. August 19, 2008 10:10 am

    I don’t know about you, but I became a Christian specifically to “join Team Jesus and take over the world!” That’s classic.

    Sometimes I think American’s confuse love with dishonest pleasantry. There’s no love in hiring an incompetent. And there is love in experiencing a kind of justice where good work is rewarded.

    Now, if only my little editing job had the market value I wish it had…

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