The Pointlessness of a Grudging Attitude in Work

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If someone were to ask me to name one characteristic about myself I don’t like, that would be easy. On occasion, I will say “yes” to some request, but I’ll do so grudgingly.

Honestly, that has to be the most senseless things to do in life. I mean, if you’re already saying “yes” to some request, then what possible purpose is there for having a grudging attitude about it? What good could it possibly do?

On the other hand, it’s pretty easy to chart the spiritually bad effects this attitude has. First of all, it makes others feel badly. If someone asks me to do something, and I communicate to them (while saying “yes” to them) that their request is really quite a bother, it’s almost like I’m demanding they apologize simply for having a need. Second, grudging attitudes have well-known, negative effects on us. They quickly can lead to spirals of negative feelings and self-talk.

The fact is that unsolicited requests are always going to come our way. Sometimes continuously, it seems. A work colleague needs us to cover one more time. One of our children needs yet another drink of water at bed time. Some menial task needs doing once again.

Of course, sometimes the right thing is to say “no” to requests. It’s impossible to be all things to all people, all of the time. But on those occasions when we’re already committing to saying “yes,” it’s just such a colossal waste of time and energy to be grudging about it.

Seen in those terms, adopting a grudging attitude become about the silliest, most childish thing we could ever do. Yet, I sometimes catch myself with this attitude, when there is some piece of work on my plate I’ve already committed to doing. Why would I ever have this attitude?

Well, I suppose the short answer is that I’m not yet perfected in Christ. I think I’ve gotten better in this area over the years, but I’m not near all the way there yet.

Ah, but is a grudging attitude something we can just choose not to adopt? Is it that simple? Well, maybe it is.

 

Image attribution: borabalbey / Thinkstock

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Kevin Kinghorn serves as editor of the Faith and Work Collective blog. He is Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Asbury Theological Seminary. His undergraduate work (Emory) was in economics and political science. His graduate work (Asbury; Yale; Oxford) and current teaching has focused on topics within philosophy of religion and moral philosophy. He lives in Mt. Sterling, KY, where he and his wife Barbara work toward community transformation, providing music and art opportunities for children.

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