Posts Tagged ‘beatitudes’

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Beatitude Adjustment

January 30, 2011

This week’s gospel reading was Matthew 5:1-12, the Beatitudes. A quick word on my Beatitude Pet Peeve: American Christians who use verse 11 (“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account” (NRSV)). At the time Matthew was written, many people choosing to become Christians were taking huge political risks; and today, Christians in places like India and Iraq have been killed for their faith. But I think this verse gets overplayed here in the US, where the government comfortably supports us. Having your Wal-Mart greeter say “Happy holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas” is not my idea of persecution, though it doesn’t stop some from annually claiming there’s a “war on Christmas.” Our faith should rest on stronger ground than a trumped up sense of external attack. We are safe here.

So on to the more realistic challenges I face, and I see others facing, as we do our work while trying to maintain our spiritual bearings. Based on the people I encounter as I teach PQ+A in many different places, I see verse 5 as the toughest beatitude to embrace. “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” I think it’s hard for most of us to be meek at work. In our workshop we teach that there are times in our work when the most effective way to answer a question is with a great deal of conciseness. I regularly encounter resistance to this idea, and it runs along the lines of “My boss needs to know how hard I’ve been working on this,” “There’s so much more context behind a simple answer,” and “I need to justify my thinking.” There is, of course, validity to some of this, but I think that what underlies some of this response is a concern that just to answer the question takes a humility that may not be welcome. To be meek at work, in other words, might jeopardize our jobs. If we don’t defend our work, show how hard we’re working and how much we care about our work, while our peers have no such concerns, we run the risk of looking aloof, uncaring, disengaged. We don’t trust that the quality of our work alone will suffice. Aspiring to meekness feels like a recipe for disaster, but there’s Jesus, Sermonizing on that Mount, assuring us that God will bless us for it.

I know from my previous post that there are people reading this blog who are thinking about these things too. So I ask you: how do you try to be meek at work? Or is it not possible?

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