I’m a couple of weeks into my new job, and learning a lot. I’m inspired by my colleagues’ passion for their work – and quite humbled by it, really. I’ve thought wrongly about work for most of my life, and it’s very exciting to catch a glimpse of what the Lord could teach me in this new role! I’ve also been learning a lot more about Microsoft Office (I’m amazed at how poorly I’ve used it for most of my life!), discovering new routes around buildings on campus and how to maximise a 45 minute lunch break!
But I started writing this post because for all the times I’ve been asked ‘How’s the new job going?’ I never get round to talking about the tough things, and I would like to share some of the challenges as well as the good things that I’ve experienced in the past few weeks. Not to dwell on the negative, beat myself up, or sound pessimistic or self-deprecating, but to let you know what I’m really like, and to let you know how uncondescending-ly? or unpatronizing-ly? (not sure either of those are words, but hope you get the gist!) patient and loving Jesus is with me when I fluff up the opportunities he gives me. So you know you can be real with him too.
Challenge One: encountering my own self-centredness in scary new depths.
Being new somewhere gives you that elusive chance to have a fresh start – to re-forge your outward appearance in a shape that you think better fits the reality within… And by ‘better fits’ I mean ‘gives a more flattering appearance to’. But though my attempts to re-invent myself (Emily 2.0) might temporarily paper over the cracks, the changes don’t run deep. In fact, rather than the new me being better presented, I think a couple of layers of paper have been peeled away and left the mess of my sin open to my sight and I can’t seem to get away from it. It’s ugly… I warn you, run away now!
I want people to like me. I really want people to like me. I’d like them to think well of me, admire my skills and abilities, to know what I’m good at and praise it, and (so I think initially) to not notice or know the things I’m not so good at, and be blind to all my faults. This is crippling, and exhausting, and ultimately a futile ambition! The things I’m not good at can’t be hidden away forever, for one thing, and even if they could, what sort of relationships with people would I have in that case? Not honest friendship or a sense of being part of a team, that’s for sure! The things that I am good at will not be satisfying to be if all I use them for is to secure other people’s admiration and praise. Those gifts are gifts – to be given away, just as they’re not given to me to claim as my own creation in the first place.
No wonder I’ve struggled!
Finding myself amongst a new group of people has brought all this unavoidably to my attention – for which I am thankful. Perhaps if you know you’re going to be surrounded by new people in the near future, this might be a helpful reminder to you too – the way we think of others is shaped by how we think about ourselves, and about the Lord. What do you want from others? What has the Lord given you? I’m learning to cling on to the fact that Jesus has set his approval and acceptance on me. Not because of my merit, but because he delights to give and share. By being with Jesus, he makes me likeable – not as a boost to my popularity, but so that I can be truly free to give and share with others.
Next challenge to follow soon! Comments and thoughts from your own experiences of starting new jobs VERY welcome!