boundaries, Christian, Christianity, commitment, faith, frustration, golden goose, job, life, maturity, opportunities, prudence, relationships, responsibility, skills, talent, wisdom, wise, work, work ethic
Life has been crazily busy for me over the past few weeks. I have a volunteer/part-time job that’s been taking over all of my flexible time. At first I was fairly enthusiastic about helping out, but now, I spend a good number of my days frustrated. My frustration isn’t because the work is too hard, but it is because I work so well that people have not worked as hard and given me more responsibility in the process. So that’s led me to this brief post (I’m in the middle of finishing another task) about being “The Golden Goose”.
The Golden Goose
If you want a brief explanation, the golden goose is the person who does his or her work so well that they become an invaluable asset to the person they work for. However, becoming some invaluable, they are quickly overburdened with more responsibilities and duties, bearing the weight of other people’s poor work ethic. The result is basically up to the golden goose. The person, in an attempt to continue to help out, can remain in the situation, forever tired and frustrated and eventually burn out. The person can continue working but attempt to set firm boundaries about what they will or will not do. Or the person can finish what they are obligated to do and simply leave after that.
Now, I know there is a fairy tale about a golden goose (unrelated to this post though), and there is also a fable about a goose laying a golden egg and people’s uncontrollable greed (also unrelated to this post). What I am relating to this post is common sense and wisdom, and what I have come to learn.
Coming through college, one of the best things I learned was about making yourself indispensable to an organization. That way your talents are recognized, and you don’t have to worry as much as others about losing your job due to poor performance. Now, I can say that it worked. Whenever I was leaving a job, I always had supervisors asking if there was anyway that they could keep longer. However, what I also learned was that by making myself indispensable, I was often taken advantaged of, overworked, not fairly compensated, and frustrated. People saw how well I did my job, but their innate sinfulness just responded by giving me more to do, not encouraging others to perform better.
So, I learned how to set boundaries. I learned how to say no. It didn’t all come to me at once, though I wish it did. But it was something that I learned over time. When I became married, I learned that I had to be very direct about things. But when I became a mother, I learned to firmly put my foot down. Now, that didn’t always go over well with people, but I can say, it did teach people to not just value what I do, but value who I am as well. It taught people that they couldn’t just throw things my way and expect it to get done because “she’s such a good Christian”.
After seeing me repeatedly frustrated, my husband told me that either I needed to learn more patience through this or discernment. I told him I think it’s discernment. And I do believe that as Christians, when we’re faced with these situations, we are learning one of those lessons, but I think we often default to patience. I’m not saying that we don’t need to grow in patience, but I do think that we don’t think enough of discernment, and especially with how it applies to prudence.
Yes, it is a fairly old word that most people don’t use today, but since I’ve been studying through the book of Proverbs, it is a word that I have come across many many times. Prudence is the ability to govern and discipline oneself by the use of reason; sagacity or shrewdness in the management of affairs; skill and good judgment in the use of resources; and caution or circumspection as to danger or risk.
From my studying, having prudence and being prudent are marks of gaining skills in learning how to live a godly life. Prudence is a mark of Christian maturity. It is something we should be actively growing in as believers. Yet, it is something that we often neglect. We pursue growing in patience, but we do not apply wisdom to that ongoing lesson. Consider for yourself, how many things in your life are you being patient about that if you had thought about it in the first place, it probably wasn’t the wisest decision initially? That situation that you just identified is where prudence should have kicked in to keep you out of it in the first place.
Well, I say all of that to say that I wish I had started studying Proverbs before this “opportunity” came my way, but I have learned from it. Yes, I may be a stay-at-home mom, but my time is still incredibly valuable. I still have to be prudent about what I involve myself in, and regardless of people’s perceptions about my availability, only I know the truth about that. And it is my responsibility as a wife, mother, and child of God to carefully watch over my affairs and manage myself as a person well in this day.
And I will also say that just because the person you could work for is a Christian does not mean that they are good managers or that you should just blindly agree to do things for them just because they know the Lord. Let’s be real people. Many Christians suck at management, and a lot of them lack basic business/managerial skills because they are operating “by faith” and just trusting God to work things out. If I can give you any advice when you’re faced with that, it is this: RUN! That is downright foolish. If I wouldn’t work for anyone “feeling their way out” in the world, then it would not be okay in the realm of the faith. If anything, Christians should be even better managers than people in the world.
So, finishing this up, I encourage you to take a look at prudence and work on it. Be diligent about developing it. And I am still encouraging you to do all of your work well, like you’re working for the Lord, and it may put you in the position of being the “golden goose”. But if you are there, it is your responsibility to wisely manage yourself, to make good judgments about using your time and effort, and to say “no” if it isn’t going to be profitable to you. Now, if you are stuck in a commitment like I am right now (lol), well, you are as responsible as I am for learning from this and praying for God to grow you up in this area. You still have to let your yes be yes and fulfill your commitments, but you best learn from it.
You can be the golden goose, but do not neglect prudence in your Christian walk. It can save you from many frustrations and help you grow in wisdom as you navigate this world and even people in your church.