Monday, March 12, 2007


It still amazes me at times that I work in banking. I remember a conversation a few years ago where I declared that I was not a "business" person. I was a teacher, a writer, an English major. No interest in sales, numbers, or staying calm while a customer yells about how it is the bank's fault that he decided to go wild with his check card over the weekend. How times have changed. This month marks my four-year anniversary with LUBI (Large Unnamed Banking Institution), where I am known for memorizing account numbers and large portions of the operating procedures manual.

It certainly has not been an easy four years. There have been many ups and downs, and while I have worked with some amazing people and made great friends (both coworkers and customers) I have also struggled with a lot of failure, stress, and bewilderment at why God decided I should be counting money and notarizing affidavits for a living. There have been days, and one month in particular a couple of years back, when I have thought that perhaps this banking thing was not for me, and I should go back to applying for administrative assistant positions.

Lately that thought has come back to nag me. The last few weeks have been hard at work. A minor incident with a teller opened up a whole can of worms, including an issue with a previous manager whom I could not stand and is no longer with the bank. I was enraged to discover that this manager had left something negative in my file that I had never seen nor had a chance to dispute. I've been having to defend myself while still showing an openness to grow and learn, which is a difficult balancing act, I can assure you. Worse still, I have been worrying about how my current managers perceive me, considering that these people are the ones deciding my promotion prospects. Talk about angst.

You see, I have always struggled with needing the approval of others. Ever since I was little, and I would immediately ham up when a camera was turned on me, I have been worrying about my appearance and what others thought of me. This insecurity has taken many forms over the years, but it continually comes up, in my friendships, my work, at church. And while I have learned to identify it and work against it, this natural tendency hampers my ability to focus on simply doing what needs to be done, to the best of my ability.

A friend of mine gave me an interesting book a couple of years ago called Now, Discover Your Strengths. It is one of many business/leadership/sales/customer service/self-help/make-yourself-a-better-person-so-they-pay-you-more books that I own or have read over the last few years. This book comes with a "strengths finder" survey, and of course, I loooove surveys, so I was eager to take it. One of my apparent strengths is termed "Connectedness" or the ability to see "the purpose beyond our humdrum lives". A person with this strength knows that things happen for a reason, and that no matter how confusing the present circumstances, the meaning behind it all will eventually become clear.

So last week I called on this strength in considering my current situation at work, trying to understand why everything has been so emotionally frustrating lately. Here I was thinking I was doing so well, hoping for a raise and a promotion and generally feeling great about my status at LUBI with my coworkers. Then all this shtuff hits the fan and shatters my confidence. And in a moment of clarity, I realized, that was a good thing. My striving for approval, combined with my perfectionism, had led me to find too much self-worth in my job, self-worth that can only be found in Christ. Through the negative events of the last few weeks, God was reminding me that reliance on my own abilities or my standing with my managers will never bring me internal peace or satisfaction at work.

Thinking and praying through this realization has helped me to rediscover some perspective. I can't be confident in my position or status at work, because I never know when something will go wrong. I could make a huge mistake next week that could cost me my job. I could also get called up and offered a promotion. I don't know. All I know is that no matter what happens at LUBI, God still loves me, and He approves of me, no matter what my annual review says.

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