Entering the room to sit down for my annual work review, I had to admit to myself how extremely nervous and unsure I was of how it was going to go. Not because I felt I didn’t perform to the best of my abilities or that I had missed deadlines or done something wrong. It was because I was unsure if the person sitting on the other side of the table could give me a fair evaluation. We had only been working together for 6 months, and as my manager, he had not given me a vision or clear direction for my role on the team. Whenever asked I got a bunch of fluff on what is to come for the team, and how I could “potentially” (his word, not mine) fit into the plan. That leaves much to the imagination.
So, I walk into this meeting thinking I am about to be let go. This would be my first time ever being fired from a job. Even with that thought floating in the back of my head, I say a prayer, hold my head high, and try to prepare myself for whatever is to come. There’s a lesson in everything and I must be open to what the Lord is trying to teach me – that’s what my heart was saying. But my mind was kinda stuck.
Well, I did not get fired. Thank you, Jesus! I so need my job! There was a lot of talk about how I am a SME (Subject Matter Expert) and an asset to the company. And that other people within the organization would know it if only I was more assertive or aggressive. “Can you explain what you mean by that?”, I ask. But deep down inside I know full well what he means, as I’ve heard it before. He explained that he meant I needed to get out there and sell myself to other teams; let them know how valuable I am. Because you have what they need, he says. They need someone like you that understands…blah, blah, blah.
Aggressive, assertive….code words for: “Be more like me! Because I understand what it takes to be successful in this world and in this company. And unless you are more like me, you don’t fit, and I’m not sure what to do with you!”
See, I’ve heard something like this before. In a previous job, I heard it from my manager who was a woman. So it’s not a woman versus man perspective. I’ve heard it from friends who “know what it takes to succeed and get theirs.” And I’ve heard it from family that “just want me to have the essentials in life.” The very first time I heard it was at work, in guess what, my annual work review. I was totally taken back. I was hurt and I felt like something was wrong with me. It wasn’t about my work – my work was always praised and I was always chosen for the more difficult projects. It was essentially about a character flaw that she believed I had. The same went for my friends, and now the same from yet a different manager. This character flaw, in their eyes, meant I was different. And since I was different I would not get ahead in life and it would hinder me from getting ahead. According to them, I needed to change.
In the moment that I heard this statement yet again from my now manager, I thanked God for the opportunity to see my own growth and how far He had brought me. You see, previously, before I understood who I am in the Lord, this statement would have shut me down. It would have made me depressed. It would have made me question my abilities and if I would be able to be “successful”. It would have made me doubt myself and my career choice. It would have made me question how God made me…. been there done that.
God had brought me full circle. And in that moment I realized it!
"Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform
you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn
to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect."
~Romans 12:2 (NIRV)
You see, I’m the quiet in the storm, I don’t create storms. I’m the one that’s looked to, to get things done. I’m the reliable one. I’m the one that can be depended on. I’m caring, sensitive and understanding. I’m not the one to brag or boast – it makes me extremely uncomfortable to have to talk about myself. I am the complete opposite of aggression or assertion! Yes, I can be aggressive and I can be assertive when I need to be. But that is not my overall nature; it’s not my character. Being who I am has not stopped me from being successful. My success is measured by my obedience to God and only He has the measuring stick. (By the world’s standards some would say I’m successful – I have all the “things” that you’re supposed to have.) I’ve learned to focus on God’s metrics of success.
We are all uniquely made for a reason. How boring life would be if we were all the same and did everything the same. Everyone claims they have the secret to navigating this world successfully and if you do things just like them you’ll succeed too. But God gives us each gifts and talents to be used for the building up His Kingdom, not for the building up of this world. And definitely not for the building up of ourselves! His gifts differ in nature, power, and effectiveness according to His wisdom.
We all have gifts. They differ according to the grace God has given to each of us. Do you have the gift of prophecy? Then use it according to the faith you have.Romans 12:6 (NIRV)
Be careful when listening to the advice of others on how you should be. Sometimes the ways, attitudes, or thoughts that people try to get you to adopt, go against the very things God has gifted you with. He is the one that created you – He knows the purpose and plans He has for you (Jeremiah 29:11). So, trust in the Lord and be the you He made!!