Beware of careerism PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 13 June 2016 11:55



There’s a story in the life of Christ with his apostles that exposes and warns us of an anomaly that can lurk  ven in the hearts of good people. It’s in Matthew 20,20-28. The mother of James and John made a special request to Jesus—that her sons would sit one at his right hand and the other at his left in God’s kingdom.

Christ gave a most gentle excuse that it was not his to grant that request. “It belongs to those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” That’s when the other disciples became indignant at the two brothers. And so Jesus made the following remark:

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. Not so is it among you. On the contrary, whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant. Whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave, even as the Son of Man has not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

We can term this moral abnormality, this attitudinal glitch that can come to us in very subtle and beguiling ways as careerism. As defined in some dictionaries, it is the “practice of advancing one’s career at the expense of one’s personal integrity.” It can also be an overwhelming desire or urge for professional advancement.

It corrupts one’s proper attitude to work and serve, and whatever is legitimate in one’s natural desire for professional growth. It’s a terrible illness that has spoiled many people who started to work well and to be properly motivated, but something went wrong along the way.

It can have a very complicated network of root causes. But the real viruses are found in the spiritual and moral aspects. One can readily see traces of pride, egoism and vainglory, disordinate attachments to worldly things, ignorance, error and confusion in relation to the true nature and purpose of work, service and authority, etc.

It develops in a heart that is anemic due to lack of spirit of prayer and sacrifice. And if this is reinforced by a morally sick culture and environment, where the proper values are lived only in the exterior but not in the interior, then we can have quite a disastrous pandemic.

Sad to say, signs of these irregularities are getting aplenty these days. It does not require much skill to discern that many people are afflicted with this illness, no matter how much they try to cover it.

It can be gleaned in their attitudes, in their views and reactions to things, in the questions they ask, the interests they pursue, the behavior they project in private and in public. It can be seen in their eyes and faces, the kind of smile they put on. It can be felt in the tone of their voice and the trajectory of their words.

On the other hand, there’s also a lot of “lording it over” around us that tends to cultivate this fixation on careerism. People in position like to show off their power, to flaunt their privileges and all the glittery trappings of their office.

Boasting seems to have already found a safe niche in society. And the corresponding practices of flattery, bootlicking adulation and exaggerated, fawning complaisance are gaining foothold in people’s culture.

We need to go back to what Christ said about just wanting “not to be served but to serve.” We need to generate and develop a strong culture inspired by this attitude. We should be happy to work and serve wherever we may be, whether up or down, front or back, in the city or in the barangay, in public or in private.

Truth to tell, I had the luck of witnessing this kind of culture for a number of times already. And it always makes me happy to see these genuine manifestations of unselfish dedication and service, leaving me truly edified and inspired, and wishing I too could be thatway.

When you see people working from the heart, unmindful of what position they have and of the advantages and disadvantages of their condition at the moment, I’m sure you will be moved.

I’ve seen persons who one day were presidents and heads of some groups and then the next day became clerks and assistants and still doing their work with gusto. It’s truly a marvelous experience.

What matters actually is the love one puts in his work.

It’s not the position or prestige or privileges. Love equalizes and elevates everything!