At the very heart of every human being is selfishness.
What a way to start a post, right? A dose of guilt to start your weekend. But it’s true. We are deeply flawed and self-centered at our very core. Although we would like to think that we would make the right decision for the whole, it is often that we would choose the one (ourselves) when faced with a choice.
I start off this way because I’m just as liable to make the same decision, especially in business. Ambition, growth and self-preservation are the stepping stone of every entrepreneur. In order to thrive, you must always climb. As I read chapter seven in this summer’s reading selection, Every Good Endeavor by Timothy Keller, I reflected on my own business over the years. The scraping, the hard work, the devotion to the job. Although I’m proud of many things, I can pinpoint, with great accuracy, the points of pure, self-centered failure. I can see where my selfishness took me further from God and His purpose. Keller describes it as, “Our pride and need for personal significance necessarily lead to competition, disunity, and strife. So a life of self-glorification makes unity and love between people impossible.”
When I was a slave to my ambition alone, I felt a gulf between myself and others and a widening chasm between myself and God. It wasn’t until I admitted that my talents, the opened doors of opportunity, and my growth were not from me but from God, that I could relinquish the responsibility and begin looking for ways to use these gifts as a way to serve others. My work could be a conduit to God, and not just to me alone.
It’s often hard to get there though. It’s hard to consider our accomplishments, progress, and talents as simple grace from God. We think, “Hey, I’m the one who labored, scraped, and sweated to get where I am. I did all the hard work!” Yet Keller remarks, “You worked with talents you did not earn; they were given to you. You went through doors of opportunity you did not produce; they just opened for you. Therefore, everything you have is a matter of grace, and so you have the freedom to serve the world through your influence, just as you can through your competence.” Note the word, “freedom.” You are free to serve others with God’s grace. That really should be the point of all work. To serve others and act as a bridge to God.
Ultimately, when you know this and accept the grace, it becomes easier. Instead of scraping to be valued, you realize you are already valued. God loves you at great cost (Jesus died for you), and therefore, you do not have to strive for value, but strive for others. This makes your work much easier and valuable going forward.