The end of the year is upon us, and at Pine Cove that means, among other things, that it’s time for appraisals. This year we are doing self-appraisals first. i have to admit, this is like my least favorite thing. So i went ahead and completed mine this morning before i could fret over it too much.
Some would say it’s an opportunity to talk yourself up. i can’t help but wonder if it’s a counter to some grumblings that made their way up the chain about how someone’s appraisal was unfair, or how they didn’t get to justify themselves before their appraisal was finalized. i’ll admit, there have been times that i wished i could have written an autobiography of how awesome i did something, but on the whole, i know how bad i suck better than my boss does. So if i’m being honest, the self-appraisal is gonna go a lot worse than i want it to… but how often are we honest?
As a general rule, we judge other people more harshly than we do ourselves because we think we know the extenuating circumstances in our own lives, and it is far to easy to look beyond another’s hardships (C.S. Lewis has a good article on this, but my book has disappeared, so i can’t tell you where to find it. Sorry). This may be clearly evident when our appraisals come out every year. We get a bad score. Our pride is injured. And all of a sudden we find ourselves explaining away our short-comings and bitterly noticing every single flaw our manager has ever displayed. My, how savage our pride can be.
i have written my appraisal. Let me first say that i don’t think anyone could mistake me for a raving fan of John Redfearn, Jr. He is arrogant and lazy and tends to eat too much. But there are certain things that i thought i did pretty well this year, or at least that i made a concerted effort to do better at. i have noted those in my far-from-sparkling appraisal and submitted it. What happens if my manager does not see these moments of greatness? Even if he did, what if he does not count them as worthy of superior marks? Am i going to be embittered and resentful in my work? Will i forsake efforts that i now regard as unnoticed?
Here’s what i think. i have felt all of those jaded questions pulse through my heart. More often than not, i use them as an excuse to cut a corner or not put my whole heart into a task. But what does it say about me, that i am unwilling to make an effort if men do not praise me for it? Isn’t my reward in heaven? Isn’t the One for whom i labor omnipresent? Isn’t He a rewarder of those who earnestly seek Him? i find myself identifying more with the Pharisees praying in the streets for everyone to notice or the one who could stand before God justified in his fasting and tithing, and less like the tax collector who beat his chest and asked for mercy or Mary, the sister of Lazarus, who anointed her Lord’s feet with perfume and tears.
The truth is that i do not believe. In the arena of my professional life i feel as alone as any man can. It is up to me to prove myself and to battle any man who stands in the way of my self-actualization. You can see how combative this can get in a hurry, because your boss is not just coaching you to do better, he is questioning your worth. He’s not asking you to do better. He’s questioning if you can. Lord, i believe! Help my unbelief.
There’s nothing wrong, in my opinion, with making a case for why you should be hired or get a raise or a promotion or anything. None of these are denials of God’s sovereignty or rule in your life. But… make sure that you are not stroking your own ego or trying to satisfy some self-imposed criteria for what success looks like.