There is one human relationship which, more than any other, will determine your performance at work. Get it right and you will fly but get it wrong and you will fall. Succeeding in this relationship will energise you, liberate you and enable you to achieve great things with accompanying satisfaction. Struggling in this relationship will paralyse you, inhibit your progress and take the reward out of working.
After working for nearly 25 years in the field of personal development, I’m now convinced that your relationship to yourself is paramount and I think I’m in agreement with Mary, the mother of Jesus.
At some time, no doubt you will have been on the giving or receiving end of a radical reform. If you work in the public sector they seem to happen once a month! Even if you work on your own, no doubt some radical reform in working practices will affect your work. But I would suggest to you that the most radical reform that could happen in your working life would be in your “in-most thoughts” to quote Mary; in particular, your in-most thoughts about yourself.
Mary’s response to the news of her commission to be the facilitator of God’s arrival on the planet was to create an artistic masterpiece, full of statements of radical reform. It is revolutionary from start to finish. Where such revolution relates to pride “the proud in their in-most thoughts” she observes, “will be scattered”. The idea is of a dispersal, chasing away or as we may put it, ‘an ousting’. Before you think you have grasped this, it may be worth remembering that over the years pride has generally been defined by men rather than women. The great sin has been seen as that of too much pride. Many women suffer from the opposite problem; rather than self-love, they suffer from self-loathing and therefore have a tendency to put themselves down.
So Mary’s radical reform includes a lifting up of the humble. It’s always a bit complicated in the real world. Too much pride destroys but there is nothing wrong in being rightly proud of your company, organisation or achievements. Too little pride, or a false humility also destroy, even though meekness and modesty are powerful virtues.
So we need rescuing from this mess, and the Rescuer is the point of this reform song. When he arrives, none of us can feel too proud because his life shows us ourselves in the searching light of his perfection. None of us can feel false humility or even be over-humble because he has come to tell us how much we are valued and to lay down his life to prove it. In short, he has come to revolutionise your relationship with yourself.
If you are at peace with yourself, you will work well. Both your in-most thoughts and your expressed work-life will communicate harmony and reality. Perhaps familiarity with the Christmas story has inoculated you to the radical reform that it represents. You may not know the tune, but you can join in the words of Mary’s song and catch the rhythm of peace in your soul.
Luke 1: 46-55
46And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
47and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
48for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49for the Mighty One has done great things for me–
holy is his name.
50His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55to Abraham and his descendants forever,
even as he said to our fathers.”
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