08 September 2014

Things I Keep Learning

You know those things that you learn, and every time you learn them you think, "I already knew that"? Today, I had a reminder of a couple of those things, so I thought I'd put my thoughts down here.

My current job is doing data analysis and internal audit. My title might be Program Controls Manager, but it should just be "Resident Bad Guy." A major chunk of my job is figuring out what was done incorrectly, who did it, fixing it, and educating the culprit. I'm the one who calls or emails you to tell you what you did wrong, why it was wrong, and what you need to do to make it right. Fun, eh?

I learned some time back that the nicer you are about it, the less likely it is that they'll get it right the next time. "Oh, she fixed it for me before, so it's no big deal." Wrong. My communication has, by necessity, become very to-the-point. The more you embroider flowers on it, the less punch it packs. This brings us to lesson one:

1) No one wants to take responsibility for himself. 

You might think that perfectly capable adults would grasp simple concepts like:

  • If you don't put in your time, you won't get paid. 
  • If you do the exact opposite of what you're instructed to do, you're going to get in trouble.
  • When someone's doing something to help you out, even though it's not their problem, don't be a jerk to them.
  • If you falsify data, you will get fired. 

I'll stop there, though I could keep going. If you thought that, you'd be wrong. The average perfectly capable adult (based on my control group of just under 500 of them) does not have any desire to take responsibility for things they know that they must do.

2) No one wants to get caught, when they do something wrong. 

It's uncomfortable, to do something wrong and have someone call you on it. It's unpleasant to be told for the 4th time in a row that you don't have the authority to do what you've just done, and this is your final warning. It's unpleasant to face the consequences of that action, whether it's just a conversation, a disciplinary action, losing the job, or something more eternal. No one wants to be the one in the hot seat.

3) Because of the first two points, most people have an immediate, knee-jerk reaction of blaming the person who caught them. 

This has been the story since the Garden of Eden. When we get caught, we immediately blame someone else, and often it's the person who's calling us out for our wrongdoing. It's so much easier to throw the spotlight at on someone else than it is to admit we've done wrong, seek to make it right, and not do it again. It's kind of a built-in default to make it personal-- "well you're just a jerk"-- because then maybe the thing we've gotten caught doing (again!) doesn't look quite so bad. If the other person is somehow to blame, then maybe I can get away without paying the price.

Friends, this reaction may be the most "natural" thing in the world, but that does not make it right. You see, there's no amount of blame-shifting or name-calling that can right a wrong. All that does is breed ill-will, and it puts you (or should I say, me) even more in the wrong.

This is one of the ways that my job reminds me of Calvary. I don't like being disliked, but to be honest, it's kind of my job. I don't want people to think badly of me, but it's not possible to hold the standard if people feel they have the freedom to do whatever they please, without repercussion or consequence. I don't want people to think of me as the bad guy, not want to take my calls, groan when they get my emails, etc., but it happens, and to be honest, I don't really mind. It's all part of the job.

Earlier today, when calling someone (for the 4th time in as many months) on a situation they knew better than to replicate, the person turned on me and started calling me names, shouting about how abrasive and what a jerk I am, until I finally hung up (because taking abuse is not part of my job description). It's times like that when my sin is fully before me. I remember how many times I've turned defensive and spat nasty things at the person who called me out. It's times like that when I remember that it took me murdering God to make my sin right. It's times like that when I'm so thankful that He loved me enough to not only take my venom, but also to take it away.

I don't always get it right. I know that. My current work schedule is averaging 60+ hours each week (my current record is 85 hrs/wk), and we're doing some other things, in our personal sphere that result in perpetual exhaustion. It's easy to react badly, especially when you're tired, overworked, and under- appreciated. I'm sure there are times I am abrasive. I'm sure there are times that people think I am a jerk, even when I'm just being straightforward. I haven't had a lot of spare time to sugar-coat stuff in the last few months. It's not an excuse. I should do better. I know that. I do my best to apologize when I realize I've been harsh.

I'm not Jesus, and as much as I yearn to be like Him, I don't generally stick the landing. Some days, He makes it clear that I don't have a right to get indignant with others who abuse me for doing my job. His voice speaks into my heart, "Remember the abuse I took? Remember the cross?" It may be my job to find the problems and deal with the trouble-makers, and they may react badly. But, it's no surprise to Jesus. Our Holy God decided that it wasn't enough for there to be punishment for sin, but that there must be a cure for it. So He came and stepped into the mess, waded through our filth, took it all on Him, and carried it instead.

I'm so glad that He reminds me of His grace, His mercy, His redemption. It makes it easier, sometimes, to be the Resident Bad Guy.


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