Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Bragging rights

Achieving a goal brings a mixed bag of responses. Sometimes the feedback is hard to negotiate. Here are few my friends and I have have encountered in the past decade:
  1. Sincere congratulations. Your friend is happy for you. A coworker or colleague (who understands the cost of reaching the goal) gives you a heads up. Cool. Say "Thank you!" and invite them to the celebration.
  2. Wise-cracking asides. Your friend jokes about your accomplishment. Negotiating this is harder. Are they wondering how to say, "We're proud of you," or envying your success? A shrug, smile, and "Thanks," works if you're not fast with a humorous comeback.
  3. Name-calling. This takes various forms, from the sincerely congratulatory to the snide put-down to wondering if you've changed and become an arrogant poop. I've heard many versions of "Hey, doctor!" since finishing my degree. I occasionally find this one hard to respond to (especially outside of academic circles.) Yes, I'm glad I finished. I've earned the right to the title. But it can't and won't define all the other parts of me. Usually I say thanks and move to a topic more interesting to the group.
  4. Envious comments. "Wish I could do that but I'm too old (fat/tired/broke, etc.)," or "I'd never get that far," or "If only I had ... I could also ..." As a motivator and mentor, I think to myself, "Don't compare yourself, but do your own thing. If you don't move toward what you love, you'll be stuck here in 10 or 20 years."
  5. Judging remarks. A few will judge your attitude based on their character. "She thinks she's better now," or "Don't let it go to your head," or "He probably doesn't want to hang around with us anymore." Some people need reassurance that you still think they're important. Others feel put down and left behind. My response is this: if they don't want me alongside, I don't push it. Walk away.
  6. Silence. When someone is publicly acknowledged, published, or praised, those aspiring to fame say nothing. Plus, not everyone likes you.
"Little-hearts" or "hate-you" bystanders rarely say, "Job well done" or "Congratulations." They pretend you never received the honor. They refuse to promote you when openings or resources become available.

Be big about such slights. Withholding a "well done" hides a stingy spirit and sometimes self-absorption or a prideful "humility." Don't expect acknowledgement.

In contrast, you and I may choose to show up and to do better. Let's note when others do well and be connectors and encouragers. Every effort and every accomplishment happens because of God's love and power at work -- opening doors, giving strength, or clearing a path. Underlying our personal praise for others lies the recognition of God's glory. He is pleased to dwell among us.

When you set out for a goal, look for those who will cheer you -- and sometimes drag you -- across the finish line. When you're done, celebrate with them. They'll be happy for you and tell how proud they are of you to anyone who will listen.

Above all, listen closely to see how you're aligned with God's plans. Won't it be amazing to hear him brag about us some day? To hear him say, "Let me introduce My servant and My child. Look at what we accomplished together!"

Read more:
 *I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart; before the “gods” I will sing your praise. I will bow down toward your holy temple and will praise your name for your love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word. When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted. Psalm 138:1-3 NIV

*This is what the Lord says: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord. Jeremiah 9:23-24 NIV

*But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:4-10 NIV

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