is it ok to want to excel at my career?

A while back, I wrote about my struggle with being a “career Christian.”  I am still struggling with what this means.

Last week, there came a day when I was tired and – to be honest – a bit frustrated.  My boss swung my office to just check in and see how my day was when I let my guard down and expressed my frustration.

My current position was created with some very specific expectations upon it to be considered a success.  The expectations were settled upon with the idea that there would be two of me.  In my first full quarter, we hit 75% of the expectations for the year (and there’s only one of me).  In other words, I did pretty well and far exceeded expectations.

I’m not saying that to be bragadocious; just practical.  It is also important to note the the various people throughout the organization who touch the work also deserve tons of credit for being able to handle the flow of work that my products added to their load.

Unfortunately, we hit a snag or two this quarter on getting my content released.  So when my boss asked how I was doing I explained my two frustrations:

1) We have content that should be available, that’s not.  This means a loss in revenue and – if we truly believe that our products spead the Gospel – it means people aren’t hearing the Message as we planned (in digital format).

2) Last quarter I was a star for getting 75% of the expectations in one quarter.  This quarter I wanted to be a super-star.

Now then… we should be getting the flow of content going again this week.  This post isn’t about that.  This post is about how I felt after saying I wanted to be a super-star.

It hit me hard that what I was saying and wanting was, simply put, not humble.  It wasn’t me trying to help raise the calibur of my co-workers.  It wasn’t me being meek or quiet or going with the flow.  I wanted to be recognized for the work I’ve done and I wanted to be given the freedom to do even more, better work.

So I’m torn, trying to figure out the balance.  Is it ok for me to want to excel at my career, wanting to be the best, wanting to succeed head-and-shoulders above what was expected of me?  Is it ok to fight to go from doing 75% of my year’s expectations in one quarter to try and get 100 or even 150% of the expectations the next quarter?

Or, am I supposed to be humble and just accept the things get in the way and that things just are the way they are?  Am I supposed to be content with being a star when I feel like we could have done so much more this quarter?  Am I allowed to challenge myself to levels of success for my area that are far beyond what LifeWay envisioned, or should I be content in knowing that I could simply relax and do nothing until July and my work still be considered a success?

I don’t want to be content with great if I know that my work could be excellent.  I don’t want to be excellent if I know that my work can be stellar.  But how do I balance success beyond anyone’s expectations with humbleness?  Do I have to push down my own expectations of myself and my role so as to not be “too successful” or “too agressive” in making a great product?  Is there such thing as too good of work?


5 Responses to “is it ok to want to excel at my career?”

  1. I think you can safely work as hard as you are capable of working and acheive everything you are capable of acheiving as long as you remember that you have nothing except that which you were given. Wanting recognition for your work for yourself is an entirely different issue since you are working with what you have been given by someone else. In my opinion, you will run into problems when you compare your work with that of other people and for the same reason.

  2. andy1131 Says:

    We all struggle with the pride bug, and I often have to ask for God to help me get rid of it in my life. With that being said- don’t settle. Be respectful, full of integrity, and let love be evident while you are doing everything that you can possibly due to be the best at what you do. When I think about these questions I try to imagine myself in my bosses and in my employers chair. I’m guessing they would rather have somebody they are having to slow down, instead of speed up. They probably want innovation and challenge instead of excuses and status quo.
    I’m excited for you man. I am conident God is using you in powerful ways. The delays your are experiencing maybe ordained as much as the first quarter was.
    God simply wants us to be obedient to what He’s telling us…

  3. Andy –

    That’s what I’m struggling with… is wanting to be great at something prideful? Or is it simply a natural desire to not waste the talents God has given us?

    I think to the parable of the literal talents and how the master was most pleased with the servants who doubled their monies he gave them. Do I fight to gain five talents for the Lord, wanting Him to be pleased (and, honestly, gaining personal satisfaction from is), or do I just settle out of fear of being prideful or seen as not humble?

    I mean, when I put it that way the answer is plain and obvious IMHO, but I really don’t think the Christian culture always supports fighting for the talents because it can be so borderline prideful.

    Which is worse; taking pride in our work or not working for the talents?

  4. Hi Aaron,

    Here is a riddle for you….

    A young girl plants a tomato seed. She loves to make things grow. She is good at it.
    She tends her tomato seed diligently and produces wonderful fruit. She enjoys the tomatos and savors the delicious flabor, color and is very thrilled with her achievement. She eats all the tomatos and feels bad. Fall comes, the plant dies and now the young girl feels empty.

    Why does she feel empty? At first she felt excited. Then she was busy and felt ‘engaged in the activity she enjoyed’, then she was happy and proud of her work. Then she savored all that she had accomplished. Then it was over.

    1. Understand your Resources
    2. Understand not only the ‘Defined Goals but also the “REAL GOALs”
    [which in business are amazingly sometimes very different]
    3. How could the young girl (applying a bit broader knowledge and a bit more wisdom) have managed to start out happy, maintain this during the activity and ended “fulfilled and happier than she started” ….still eager to do more in the future?

    Love to all,

  5. […] It About You: This is one that I struggle with, especially in light of the culture where I work.  We’re all too humble.  It’s […]

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