Today we’ll conclude this week’s focus on the Ten Commandments with a look at Exodus 20:17.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
I’ll admit it – I’m an ambitious person. I like to achieve new things and I get bored with doing the same work for long periods of time. But I’ve learned the hard way over the years that there’s a downside to this ambition – it’s very easy to become envious of other peoples’ successes.
For me, it’s not usually about other people’s financial successes, but is more often an issue with others receiving recognition. This was particularly true during my younger days working in sales. Sales-persons have a reputation for being driven by the almighty dollar, but in my experience, it’s a desire to be recognized that drove most to sell harder.
If God let me add a few amendments to this commandment, I’d add:
Do not envy the company-wide e-mail praising your neighbor’s project success
Do not covet the laminated “top salesperson – march 06” certificate on your neighbor’s cubicle panel
And do not imagine yourself receiving a non-existent “smartest and best-dressed employee in company history” award during your next team meeting
I’ve learned over the years that ego only gets in the way of our growth. Steve Arterburn (yep, he gets two shout-outs this week) in his book Every Man, God’s Man says,
If oil produces the lubrication necessary for engines to deliver the designed performance, then humility lubricates a man’s faith, producing results in his spritual life. The Bible teaches that humility is the one core attitude that God’s man goes after as he seeks to make his relationship with the Lord work.”
(sorry for the gender specific references, but Arterburn writes books targeted at men)
Humility is that important. If we want to grow spiritually, then we need to nip our egos in the bud. Over time, doing so helps us to grow genuinely pleased – energized, even – by the success of others. And it’s this appreciation for the accomplishments of others that, ironically, produces in us genuine characteristics of leadership.