Tuesday, April 24 2018 - 6:10 AM
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Compassion Over Power

Power goes to my head. When I have it, I turn into a completely different person. My family and friends have learned not to make me captain of any sports team or team leader on game night. I don’t know what it is that makes me this way. My theory is that since I am the youngest of three children, I was very rarely put in charge of anything and there was always someone older to boss me around. So on the rare occasion that I do get to boss others around, I go a little overboard. A friend recently told me that my tendency to let power go to my head is (and I quote) “not as charming as you think it is.” Part of me doesn’t believe her.

However, a recent incident made me realize that she was probably right:

For the past few months, I’ve been working on a project that I have been given a significant amount of control over. I literally oversee every aspect of the project and manage multiple people below me. I am blessed to work with a great team. One person in particular, however, has been dropping the ball on her part of the project consistently. This hasn’t just been small mistakes that can be easily fixed. These are huge, pretty public mistakes. I took many approaches to help her, including making a detailed to do list for her, but that didn’t stop her from dropping the ball again and again.

Finally, I called a meeting with her and asked my boss to sit in with us. I made a list of all the ways in which she had failed me and prepared to read them to her. After we started the meeting and I began my list, she apologized profusely and explained the difficulties she was going through in her personal life, particularly how her grandfather had taken ill and how she was primarily responsible for caring for him.

You would think that this revelation would have brought out some compassion in me, but unfortunately it didn’t. I actually started reading off from my list of grievances again, when my boss gently placed her hand on my arm and said, “I’m really sorry to hear about your grandfather. How are you doing?”

I realized in that moment that I was most concerned with managing my project than I was about a coworker who I cared about. I don’t know what it is about power that turns off my capacity to show compassion, but I do know that I never want that to happen again.

I apologized to my coworker and got her permission to share this story. Then I thanked her for teaching me a very important lesson: People matter more than getting a project done.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:32, ESV).

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About Jael Amador

Jael Amador

writes from New York, New York.

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