Hearing or witnessing grown men and women—professional people at that—barking instructions and threats at each other, or talking crudely behind each other’s backs in a workplace setting would be hilarious if it wasn’t so concerning.
Every now and then it occurs that egos get the better of people. Of course, we’ve all had episodes of this occur personally. Shudder to say it, none of us are perfect.
Times Haven’t Changed that Much
What we see here is the return to typical schoolyard play where the usual suspects take up their positions... there’s the bully, the squealer, the rough-house rabblerouser, the quiet kid in the corner—and all between. They’re all in our workplaces.
Times really haven’t actually changed that much. It’s just the environment that changes.
Our Challenge to Overcome
In the First Century, the apostle Paul said to the Corinthian church, regarding deeds of common ‘charitable’ love i.e. not the romantic sort,
“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.”
~1 Corinthians 13:11 (NIV).
This, in summary, is our major life challenge of charitable love; to live life adultly.
That is not surmising that enjoyment and fun have ended—for these too have great purposes for us—but they just have to have appropriate places in our lives, where the fun builds people up and doesn’t undermine them.
The more we think about inappropriate and immature, a.k.a. childish in the negative sense, behaviour the more we see that the outcome of this behaviour is invariably about placing ourselves and others in compromising positions, which is far from the best we’re otherwise capable of.
Taking sides, ridiculing, berating or threatening people—whether to their faces or not—is simply behaviour akin to unaccountable children, not true adults.
We’re to banish this from our relationships with others as much as possible.
Promoting Personal ‘Adult’ Behaviour
I love the Transactional Analysis (TA) Model often used in counselling settings. The ‘adult’ described in the TA Model is reasonable, rational, reliable, responsible, realistic and logical. Notwithstanding our human propensity for emotion, we try to act adultly as much as we possibly can—especially in times of conflict.
The more we practice this the better we get at it. Again, this is always going to be our biggest challenge for personal growth. Yet, it is entirely worth our single-minded focus, under God.
How mature we become depends almost entirely on how adult we can be in the practical discharge of our duties in common life.
Do this right and we can escape those deplorable schoolyard antics—as far as we’re personally concerned—basically all the time.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.