My values for work and my work ethic have been influenced by many,
some through direct experience and demonstration by great and horrible bosses, and others through minds in books: Ernest Hemingway on the attractiveness and persuasiveness of brevity; Ray Dalio on embracing the natural bents, strengths, and weaknesses of others, Shane Parrish on the many mental models I could employ to make smarter decisions, and Marcus Aurelius’ father on how to treat your co-workers, to name a few.
I give credit to the Bible for most of the underlying values in work I’ve cultivated in my professional life; They are things I strive to abide by and commit to at the age of 28.
Here are some lessons I learned from the Bible on how to live as a Christian in work:
Rest and relaxation must become a familiar presence in your life.
Having work physically, emotionally and mentally consume one’s life and identity is against the character of a Christian life.
As a Christian, participating in the Sabbath is an act of obedience, a reminder for me that I am not a slave beholden to my work (“How much more valuable is a person than a sheep!” (Matthew 12:12)), and a demonstration that I’m putting my money where my mouth is when I say I believe God is sovereign, at the center of my life and my purpose for being.
It’s also an healthy act of rest: to rejuvenate, restore, and re-center myself in the things that matter most to me in life.
So, we keep the Sabbath. (Deuteronomy 5:12-14):
Listen and actively seek and embrace guidance and counsel from others.
Be humble and open minded in the counsel and feedback of others.
Proverbs 15:22: “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”
Proverbs 11:14: “For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers.”
Proverbs 24:6 on being a wise and successful king: “Surely you need guidance to wage war, and victory is won through many advisers”.
What these verses do not imply is to accept the guidance of anyone, or to always embrace the guidance of close counsel. They simply state the value of taking into deep consideration the counsel of one’s advisors. Who do you see as an advisor in your life? Hopefully someone close, who reflects principles and values you respect, and someone you trust and respect.
Despite demonstrated differences in values, principles, and/or opinion, have respect for and be respectful of placed authority.
It is important to show a level of respect to those placed in specific positions as they have been “elected” and placed there by people, whether it be by the board of your company, or by your nation’s people. (Romans 13)
While I struggle with showing deep admiration for someone when his/her principles are at odds with mine, regardless of position, I learned that is different from being able to show thoughtfulness and respect for the dignity and position of another.
Shane Parrish, founder of Farnam Street, has also savvily quipped once: “you can disagree without saying anything.”
Engage in and pursue work that has purpose and meaning.
Being involved in work that is “beneficial,” “constructive,” or benefiting the “good of others” is in close character with Jesus Christ.
Celebrate and compliment your colleagues’ strengths and accomplishments. Mentor your juniors; actively give credit to them.
Lift up your peers [hype them] when there is any true opportunity to do so. BUT avoid flattery.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable— if anything is excellent or praiseworthy— think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)
“For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.” (Romans 16:18)
“For there is no truth in their mouth…. their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue.” ( Psalm 5:9)
Some people say the correlation between age and wisdom is very high.
While that would be beneficial to most to say so, and would be a relief for me if I believed so, we’ve sadly observed the contrary.
The experience argument:
The # of total experiences does not correlate with one’s age, although often times, you can correctly say that you see it trending that way. Taken out of this context, rarely would a person of logic say a whole trend is an accurate representation of its parts.
Experience, and one’s involvement with events, knowledge, and information are not limited to first-hand contact only.
Experience can be attained through second-hand accounts: from books (nonfiction, fiction), from media (news, social networks, entertainment videos, visual media), from people (geography, age, socio-economic class, personal disposition, race, ethnicity).
Age represents the culmination of personal experiences gathered from the number of years one has lived.
One’s age does not predicate the level of maturity attained via the culmination of experience.
Whether these experiences are then consumed consciously and whether the deliberate consumption or “present” consumption of experience ultimately channels into good insights reflective of good character [which is ultimately what wise people seem to to embody], is altogether a whole unique statement to be examined on its own.
You might find a wise 50 year old and still manage to find a 79 year old who simply hasn’t gotten his shit together.
Alternatively, you might find a wise 30 year old to the 59 year old.
A wise 27 year old man to your 56.
These things aren’t doled out to each person by measures as soon as one hits on another year.
You have to have the right character, strive for the right character. (I’d let people argue that one needs to experience some maturity in brain development to experience “wisdom,” but we are talking about the general pool of people who’ve hit adulthood – aka full maturity in the brain and its critical parts.
Age does not beget insight. Age does not beget wisdom.
In the case for wisdom, one can safely argue that being considered wise is conditional to embodying other characteristics that are by nature virtuous or noble.
You see many who are older than you and are markedly hypocritical, but they are not wise.
You see many who are older than you are and who decline to fight on behalf of fellow brethren, and you would not call them wise.
You see old villains and old money and fame mongers, and you would never attribute “wise” to their personages.
You can call an old man all these things: clever, astute, sharp, wise, but you can never just assume or generalize that the old man is wise simply because he is of that age, just like you can not assume one has become measurably smarter because he has reached the age of 80, but sadly, the bulk of our society continues to reinforce this poorly defended theory into their lifestyles, in daily human interaction and decision making
For example, you might see a person:
Who is CEO of a Fortune 500 company at 40 and is incredibly sageous.
Who is a successful CEO at 65 and incredibly selfish, hypocritical, and prone to deal in unethical business ventures.
No amount of age will make up for a person’s lack of character development if said person has only used one’s experiences in life to serve and reflect off of his/her agenda.
Age and wisdom is mutually exclusive.
I’m starting to realize as I write this that maybe the you I’m writing to is just me, and that I am perhaps mixing the word wisdom with other virtues and characteristics of nobler substance [such as selflessness, people vision, compassionate worldliness].
But I believe these terms must be considered interchangeably. I don’t think this allows for mutual exclusivity.
Maybe I’m just being crazily [or naively] self-righteous. Who knows.