Monday, December 05, 2011
Act 2 of Esther makes this point: Esther, we have already seen is working hard, beginning to do everything that needed to be done. But now we see her involvement in the king’s life being spared. Mordecai uncovers conspiracy, he tells Esther and Esther informs the king. Now that wasn’t part of her job description, or Mordecai’s to be part of the king’s security detail. Have you ever worked with people like that? ‘Oh I can’t do that, it’s not on my job description’. But here God’s people thought they could do something, they could make a difference, so they decided ‘well, why not? Why would we not do that?’ For us it might mean thinking the best, serving in the best way in your situation – helping the boss out.That's a remarkably pragmatic approach, and I am not at all sure about its validity. In general, yes, things do tend to work out in the long term. My own life is evidence of that fact. (I once walked out of a job due to ethical issues with no place to land, but God did take care of me. - story for another time.) But for many it does not work out in the end.
You might have thought that this is a sure way to get promoted. But it doesn’t always work as automatically as that. And it didn’t in this case. They were overlooked. Mordecai was overlooked. But all this came to be very important in the story later on, as we will see. Someone once said that ‘No good turn goes unpunished.’ I don’t know if that’s true.
So it’s an interesting thing that actually in the long term, godly values work, even in the workplace. Godly values in the mid-to-long term work. Sometimes in the short to mid-term you can take a hit, if I’m honest. You can take a hit. For example in sales, it’s very easy to lie about your product to get this quarter’s sales better but especially in the media-age, if you sell a whole load of products this quarter to people who don’t really need it and your product is no good and they all start writing on Twitter about how rubbish it is, you won’t make your sales next quarter. Do you see what I’m saying?
So in the short-term, for sure, dodgy ethics can sometimes beat godly ethics. There’s no question about that. But I would argue that in the mid to long-term, in almost every business, in almost every company, in almost every situation it just works. That’s not why we do it, mind you. I don’t think Mordecai thought, “I know, I’ll let the king know that he’s about to be killed because that way I’ll get promoted and become prime minister.” I don’t think he thought that way – he just did what he knew was right.
I was recently on Patmos where John the Apostle was imprisoned - the only one of the 12 to die a natural death. Not sure you could pragmatically claim it worked out for those guys in the end.
Not to mention the fact that at the heart of Christianity is a selflessness. Adrian makes vague reference to it:
One of the interesting things is that recent work suggests that one of the main qualities of leading CEOs of companies that are doing remarkably well is a surprising form of humility.Christ served us and we serve others - our motivation is not service to get ahead, but service for it's own sake - service becasue we were created to serve - service because it is a model of who we are in front of God the King. We do not serve becasue of what it means for us, but becasue of what it means for God.
If we strive for excellence, morally or in simple performance for our own sake, we miss the point. We strive for excellence becasue it brings Glory to God.