Still Prideful After All These Years

December 15, 2010

Faith, Security, Technology

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:2-4

It has been twenty-seven years since I took my last timed exam.  Since then, I’ve never had to get certified for a job that I have.  That is ending with my current job.  There are a couple of professional certifications that I need in order to meet some customer requirements.  So I and my team must all get a minimum set of certs in order to continue on the contract.

Consequently, I am in class this week.  I am taking five days of preparation before I take the test.  But I have had a really poor attitude throughout the class.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’ve paid attention.  I’ve engaged with the teacher and the class.  And I’ve tried to be light-hearted throughout the class.  But I have maintained an attitude of entitlement.  I was confident that my years of experience were all that was needed to meet this challenge.

In my personal arrogance, I decided to take a practice test after only two days of class (and no studying).  I had a few technical problems with the test (e.g., two questions didn’t even show up due to what appeared to be problems with an ActiveX control).  And I was interrupted during the practice exam when someone wanted to pull me off my test station (during a timed test) in order to discuss testing strategies for our group.  So I had a couple of strikes against me.  Technical difficulties + testing interruptions + incomplete class work (i.e., only 40% complete) + an attitude of entitlement = C+ on the exam.

One of my team members (who is a dear brother in Christ and a member of our Bible study group) told me that I should be happy with the score as it showed that I was on track.  [BTW, Bob didn’t do quite as well as I had done on the practice test.] Rather than be grateful [or help Bob find solace and focus for his journey], I just sulked in my own disappointment.  I was convinced that I could get a B+/A- without even going over the material.  I was in good shape but I had convinced myself that I should have done much better.  Rather than misinterpret the results and act small, I should have helped to buoy Bob’s spirits.  Instead, I lost the opportunity to lead.  Bob, I am so sorry.  Please forgive me for my selfishness.  And thank you so much for your positive heart.

When I got home, I was in a very sour mood.  Cindy and Dana went to the gym while I fumbled around and felt sorry for myself.  Fortunately, God reminded me that the best rmemdy to missing the mark is to try again with the right attitude.  So I gathered together my materials and assessed my “off the mark” assessment.  Actually, I had done rather well.  No, I didn’t meet my own selfish and prideful needs.  But I’m glad that I didn’t.  If I had scored higher, I am sure that I wouldn’t be paying attention for the next three days.  And I am sure that I wouldn’t prepare before the test.  And after reviewing my missed questions, I could easily see that the difference between achieving my goal and failing my goal was the sections of the material that we had not yet gone over in class.  Had I known the terms from those sections, I would have met my expectations.

After a few hours of stewing, I finally relaxed my jaw and let go of the bone that I was chewing.  And I let God speak to me.  His words were gentle – but firm.  Who are you?  Why do you think you “deserve” to be “top dog” amongst your peers?  Why aren’t you happy with knowing that you are almost ready?  And why are you chaffing under the authority system where I have placed you?

I was stunned and humbled by God’s directness.  And I thank Him for it.  These reminders will cause the following reactions: 1) I will focus during the remaining classes, 2) I will be excited to learn new terms and techniques, 3) I will take many more practice tests, 4) I will greedily embrace all of the test aids that I can find, and 5) I will have the right attitude about this venture.  I must remember that I am at this job for a few reasons: a) to provide for my family, b) to be a leader amongst my younger colleagues.  Lord, please help me be an attitude leader as well as a skills leader!


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