Part 2: Audience of One: How to Know When to Take the Credit

Should you ever share how you have served? Should you ever make sure you get the credit?

In a previous blog post I made the case that we can serve at work whether or not we’ll get any benefit in return. Here were the major points:

  • As followers of Jesus we should serve others
  • Sometimes the cost-benefit analysis of serving is not in our favor
  • But serving without expectation of return is the heart of serving at work
  • We can do that when we understand and believe who our real boss is and what our real payoff is (Colossians 3:22-24) – when we work for an Audience of One, the boss always notices and always rewards.

There was some good offline discussion about the topic, begging the question: are there times when it makes practical sense to share what you’ve done? How do you do it in a way consistent with the “Audience of One” mindset?

Consider these examples:

  • It’s a start-up environment and you are always the one who takes out the trash. You just see the need and do it. But it seems like nobody else “sees the need.” They just know they come to work and the trash has been taken out.
  • You’ve been helping an under-resourced teammate; you both report to the same manager. You’re putting in extra hours at home several nights a week. You’re focused on the project, not emails, so nobody other than your teammate knows what you’re doing at 9:00 at night.
  • You work for a highly competitive and bureaucratic organization. Getting credit could mean the difference in a promotion and more opportunity to influence.

So what do you do?

The first question you have to answer is this: do you really believe that God will take care of you? You really can’t make progress on the practical steps unless you sort out the fundamental faith question.

Now ask yourself these questions:

  • What is your motive? Is your motive serving or self-serving? Is your intent to help the team or to help yourself? Are you coming from a place of strength, confident that regardless of outcome you are secure in Jesus? Or are you coming from a place of weakness, anxious about what might happen if you don’t get the credit?
  • What will the practical effects be? Will it help communication flow across the team? Will it help your boss lead better to know you’re working on other people’s projects every night? Will it give the team the opportunity to step up and serve?

Now act. The outcome is never guaranteed, but at least now you have faithfully considered how.

When you act, remember that one of the most fundamental truths of our faith is that we don’t have anything to prove because Jesus has already proven himself for us.

The more we know that, the freer we will be from the pressure of the politics of serving, and the freer we will be to more fully focus on how to benefit others with our serving.

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