Who doesn’t want to be a person of enduring value, a person who is valued and appreciated?
I have been building my career in the corporate world for nearly two decades. During that period, I have revelled in the highs of being part of a national award-winning endeavor, and in being recognized and celebrated by my peers in front of the company. I have also been mired in the tremendous life insecurity that stems from having been laid off. It’s hard not to measure your worth in the workplace, and in life, based on what happens because of you, as well as what happens to you. Who doesn’t want to be be a person of enduring value, a person who is valued and appreciated? As the old saying goes, “Everybody wants to be somebody.”
For the longest time my efforts at trying to be a “somebody” centered on making a name for myself at work. As a Christian I knew not to lord it over others or climb over others in hopes to advance my career at others’ expense. Instead, I deeply valued and sought the approval and affection of my peers–if I could demonstrate that I had their backs, even at cost to me, if I could demonstrate care for them that went beyond conventional workplace expectations, if I could solve problems that had been too challenging for them–then surely I would be in with them, surely I would be a “somebody.” As a Christian, I profess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and I know that I am saved and sanctified by grace alone. Yet for the longest time I was blind to the idolatrous hold that this sin had on me, the sin of trying to make a name for myself apart from Christ, the sin of placing my value and worth in my own handiwork. Over time, as I was expending tremendous time and energy, and giving of myself in this insatiable pursuit, this sin took its toll in my close relationships with my parents and brother, my church community and leadership teams, my close friends, and especially with Christ. I had lost sight of the Gospel of the crucified Christ, and had neglected to submit to the power of His grace, and instead became idolatrous, ineffective and unproductive; nearsighted and blind (2 Peter 2:5-9).
In my workplace, one approach to build something lasting is known as applying the “3 C’s” of clarity, consistency, and constancy. Ironically, this is the same approach that my closest friends have used to speak truth in love to me to address my idolatry. They have spoken with clarity about the specificity of my sin as well as the specificity of the Gospel to my context. They have spoken with consistency, where their actions and words align through integrity, as well as consistency of reminding me of the Gospel during my ups as well as downs of my idolatrous pursuit. And they have spoken to me with constancy; that is, with enough frequency that reflects the closeness of someone who is walking alongside me on this journey called life. They continue to live out the charge from Hebrews 3:12-13: “See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”
In the midst of such rebuke, I have experienced encouragement, and a conviction of the Holy Spirit that has helped lead me to repentance. Consequently, I am a work in progress in applying the Gospel to myself with the “3 C’s” of clarity, consistency, and constancy. Combatting sin’s deceitfulness requires seeing my idolatrous pursuits as well as the Gospel of grace with clarity. It requires consistency of dependence on community, a value that we hold dear at Metro and which I myself have experienced firsthand. And it requires a constant preaching of the Gospel to myself: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:8-10).