“You can be the mortar”

October 1, 2020 -- Living City

“You can be the mortar”
A show of false humility would not have gotten me anywhere

I got to know about the Word of Life when I was still in high school. From the beginning, I was fascinated by how God’s word was in a stark contrast to what society proposed: when everyone was striving to earn and accumulate money, Jesus invited me to give. When some colleagues at school were looking for fun and all kinds of entertainment, Jesus promised and gave me a joy that went way beyond all quickly passing fun moments.

God’s words not only contained wisdom and guidance for every situation I would encounter, but when I put them into practice, I experienced God’s powerful actions in my everyday life.

Since then, a lot of Gospel phrases have accompanied me throughout my life; and some were fundamental. Being the second child, I tried to accomplish many things and prove that I was good — so the phrase “For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Lk 14:11) made a deep impression on me.

All of a sudden, I realized that God was not asking me to be successful in my studies or work, but rather to learn how to love and to serve. My focus changed.

Everything was going well until I started a job in a new company. It was a very competitive work environment; every new employee was expected to promote their topics aggressively. As a newcomer, I had to define my territory and defend it.

This was puzzling to me, because it seemed to be the opposite of the Gospel message. Should I boast about my capacities? Should I claim that I was brilliant and could do a better job than others, just to move ahead? Or, would God help me to find a way to stay faithful to his words?

Soon I realized that a false humility was not what God expected of me. When I got upset when seeing others getting all the better assignments, and I had to work on those that were not regarded important, I realized that my pride was getting in the way. The Gospel words “… those who humble themselves…” came to mind, and I did a little self-examination looking into the depth of my heart.  I went up to my coworker and sincerely congratulated him for a project that he completed well.

Then he began asking me why I didn’t seem to be confident when we talked about the various projects during our weekly meetings. His genuine interest gave me the light to understand what I was getting wrong: being humble didn’t mean that I should not work on my communication skills and have the courage to speak up. I couldn’t just entrust everything to God without some effort on my part to give my 100%.

I realized that I could explain my proposals and give a critical feedback to those of others without putting anyone down or being unfair. I could be confident without boasting. Slowly, I was entrusted with better projects, and even critical ones. Seeing my coworkers not as competitors gave way to building sincere relationships without an ulterior motive.

My boss began to notice my efforts and even asked me to work on an important project with two colleagues who were known to be difficult to work with. He said, “I know that you can do it, because you don’t get into unnecessary fights. You can be the mortar to keep the group together.”

I felt in my heart the gratitude to God that he showed me the right way, and it was one of the many signs that his words are always true — when we really begin to understand them in the right way.

- D. K., New York

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