Gerald is a young worker and on our Headstart leadership team. By day, an analyst at a multinational financial service corporation. By night, a content creator with various side projects to help people discover and learn new things. Gerald is always seeking opportunities to connect with people and share the good, and this summary of Headstart is no exception.
Continuing Headstart Term 4's theme of RAW: UNMUTE - Cutting through the stigma, we opened up the discussion on Workplace Envy as we heard about other people’s experiences and explored how our faith helps us manage this feeling of being discontent or resentful with regards to another’s success or advantage.
James and Wendy, both young workers in Sydney, shared their personal experiences in dealing with workplace envy. This in turn prompted us to take an honest look at ourselves and bring to surface deep issues that are in our heart.
"They got promoted, but you didn't make the cut..."
"They are having fun with other colleagues, but you didn't get invited..."
What feelings bubble up?
If you are like me, it can be hard to admit that you feel a twinge of envy creeping in. You try to conceal and suppress that emotion, but out of nowhere you are quickly reminded again that you are lacking. Lacking the recognition? Lacking the social life? Lacking the opportunity?
Wendy shared an example of achievement envy which can be easily cultivated in the performance-based corporate firm where she currently works at. This feeling could be from seeing colleagues of the same age progress faster than you, or the desire to be in a team that does more interesting work than you.
For James, he chose to share with us a time he felt social envy. When you find out on social media that a few colleagues are having fun on an outing that you didn't get invited to, this can make you long for social connections that you don't get in the workplace.
We also noticed that envy isn't just rampant in secular workplaces. It is also a common occurrence in ministry or church contexts. Our comparison with others reveals our deepest desires, and it can make us feel envious, despairing and bitter.
So how can I approach workplace envy?
1) Understand the negative effects
Seeing that envy comes from the sense of lack, this may lead to seeing colleagues in an unhealthy way, such as a threat to your own success. This can be detrimental to your relationships and community.
2) Diagnose the cause of your envy
By having such strong feelings about something you lack, it further sheds light on your inner desires. Does it come from a prideful heart, where you think of yourself more highly than you ought? Does it arise from our self-centredness or sense of entitlement?
3) It points us to a greater reality
Mark Leong reminded us of the audacious promise we see in Psalm 23: "The Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing". For the times we feel like we are lacking, we can step back and ask ourselves "How has God provided for me?". Rather than being fixated on our gaps, we can be thankful for the abundance that God gives us and that we can find fullness and fulfilment in Christ. We also heard from Romans 8:38-39, which shows that God’s great love for us is not conditional on our performance or our imperfections. In God’s grace, we can stand as righteous before God because we are clothed with Christ’s perfection that he offered at the cross for us!
4) Use your gifts to serve others
By understanding that we lack nothing, that there’s more to life than work, and that God's timing and plan is perfect, we are able to love others and not view them as a threat. It enables us to be genuinely happy for friends who do well and to encourage them. It also allows us to consider: How can you use your God-given gifts to serve the common good and build up one another?
5) Help others by opening up conversation
As time goes on, you may realise that there may be others who envy you or your role. Use this opportunity to open up honest conversations to help them see and adopt a healthy perspective of the situation and to show that you care. How can you cut through the stigma of workplace envy and share how God’s love is sufficient for us in any stage or season of life?
"The Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing".
Do these words have a reality in your life?