Daily Proverbial, 21 June 2011

When you sit to dine with a ruler, note well what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony. Do not crave his delicacies, for that food is deceptive. Proverbs 23, verses 1 – 3.

Some authority makes me nervous. There, I said it. I’m not intimidated, but being around authority makes me nervous. I’ve worked hard enough for my qualifications and status that I’m not intimidated by people with equal or greater status. All the college degrees, all the projects, all the years of experience and all the cool things that I missed out on in life because I wasn’t in the Woodstock generation still won’t get you a cup of coffee at Dunkin Donuts unless you have $1.95. Cocky in how I sometimes comport myself, I’m probably one of the more publicly self-assured people you could meet (even though I’m a mess when I’m off the stage).

And yet, I’m nervous around authority. I don’t like that any one person can have authority over me, or by their actions can control my fate. Even if it’s sometimes foolingmyself, I like to think I am in control of my destiny. President Obama, Warren Buffet, Bill O’Reilly, and Donald Trump and the head of the TSA have zero influence over me. They all can say or do things that affect me, but none of them control me. Somewhere, I think God is having a good laugh. Me in control of my destiny? I have free will but I bet He’s chuckling, thinking “Dave, listen to that Mexican proverb on this one.” That’s what it comes down to, you see: the only person I want having control over me is God. Anyone else is just blood and guts.

So I think it’s natural to remember that, when you sit down with authority, be wise and wary. Don’t be a show-off and don’t be a pig. If they buy dinner and drinks, enjoy. Enjoy yourself with gusto, but don’t let yourself be seen as enjoying too much because you’re never really off duty, you know. You and I don’t know everything that it took for “the man” to get to where he is. Perhaps that’s a good thing. After all, billionaires don’t become billionaires just by being nice guys. Let your boss, manager, director, SVP or authority see you for who you are…but remember they are playing poker and so should you. Keep your cards close to your chest. It would be better to not play at all than to play foolishly or unwisely in the presence of someone who can do damage to your livelihood. When I get the attention of my leaders, I want it to be for something good I’ve done, not for acting like an idiot or making foolish mistakes.

But in all these wary dealings, remember a basic fact: God really is good and he really does know what He’s doing. Anyone else really is human, the same as you or I. Background and training become a moot point. College makes you a better person, not better than somebody else. Experience means you’ve been around the block, but you haven’t been around my block and I haven’t been around yours, and we’re both on the same journey. Gluttony is always vice but hunger isn’t always a virtue. In all these, God is the glue that still holds the world together. Why not let’s put our trust in Him instead of kings, managers, or vice presidents?

For the next few weeks, I’m being mentored by a high-ranking member of my company. He and I are doing some remediation work in Minnesota, and I’m learning first-hand from him the process that he designed for our company to do this work. It’s logical, sequential, and common-sense. In truth, I admire the work he’s done and am very thankful to be here working under him. But I won’t be fawning at his desk letting him know how great it is. And I am watching my Ps and Qs and everything I say around him. I’m a big believer in developing a rock star persona as a facet of one’s professional image…but I think I’ll keep that under wraps for now. There is much I can learn from him, but I’m keeping my familiarity with him at arm’s length, remembering that he is both senior and influential in my career with this company. It makes me a little nervous, but that’s not really a bad thing. I think it just means that it’s a prudent and maybe even a Godly thing to keep my radar on.

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