Are We People or Professionals?
Yesterday was a rough day at work. In general, I like my job and the challenges it presents for me to expand my business horizons and creative abilities, but a day like that makes me wonder if I have spent too much time and energy buying into the whole corporate game. Because it is a game, after all. The “professional” world is a built-up microcosm of the world we live in, often presenting us with false ultimatums and a substitute value system in place of what is truly important. Some days it’s easy to buy into the hype; most days, I feel like we all take ourselves a bit too seriously.
But…. I also understand why this system is in place. We can’t be best friends with everyone. We can’t do “favors” for the whole world when we really should be engaging in transactions that will help people live their lives. Acting professionally in the business world is a version of etiquette and, without it, things just don’t get done as efficiently. Yet sometimes the lines are drawn too thin. Does it really matter to Client X that I am 7 months pregnant and just trying to wrap my brain around how my life is going to change so significantly in just a few weeks, amidst maintaining all the other hustle and bustle that is my current life? Reality? No. Client X doesn’t really give a damn (in the infamous words of Rhett Butler) — he just wants his work done and his money made. Am I a person to Client X, with real emotions and day-to-day struggles? Certainly not. I’m a professional who has a job to do, a job which, for whatever reason, my client relies on.
So how are we to balance these two conflicting personas: the reality of a person with thoughts, emotions, struggles and beliefs, against what seems to become a daily facade of politically-correct professionalism in which feelings are bypassed, beliefs are disregarded and personal struggles are seen as an excuse? I don’t have an easy answer. If I did, today wouldn’t have been a rough day. But I think there is a reason I happened to pull up Spurgeon’s Morning & Evening on my phone during the bus commute this morning to find such an applicable admonition from 2 Corinthians: “Be ye separate.” 2 Corinthians 6:17
Spurgeon reminds us from Scripture, “The Christian, while in the world, is not to be of the world. He should be distinguished from it in the great object of his life. To him, “to live,” should be “Christ.” (Phil 1:21) Whether he eats, or drinks, or whatever he does, he should do all to God’s glory.” (1 Cor. 10:31) He reminds us to, “Walk worthy of your high calling and dignity.” (Eph. 4:1)
These are apt reminders for me as I straddle the lines of “in” the world but not “of” it, although I still find it hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It is very difficult to feel valued as a person and, much more, a child of God, when to many your identity is summed up by “professional” status, title, income or, of all things, e-mail response time. But this is not the great object of my life. At the end of the day, if I can remember that, all will be well. Because truly, my identity is wrapped up in the identity of One much greater, in whom victory is sure.