At Work & Theology 101

Have You Mastered the Art of Boasting at Work?

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Harris Wittle is a writer for the show Parks and Recreation. In 2010, he created a Twitter handle called @Humblebrag that retweets subtly-worded boasts people post on Twitter. His Twitter experiment has grown into a hashtag phenomenon.

Here are some examples:

Went to the most beautiful & personal wedding last night (despite helicopters and annoying paparazzi at end of road). Fairy tales do happen! 

HERE WE GO CELTS!!!! wish (sic) i was in boston (sic) for this game!!!! prague (sic) will have to do.

Yea. So Kobe just ran me over. Court side problems.

I just realized muscles & golf don’t mesh.

These are real – and funny – tweets. In each case, the person uses a real life situation to subtly boast about something – having courtside seats, being too muscular for golf, vacationing in Prague.

When we brag, we are refined about it. In a humorous way, Harris Wittle has exposed the art of subtle boasting with his @Humblebrag project. The obvious irony is that he calls it Humblebrag.

We’re quite good at the art of subtle boasting. Rarely do any of us openly brag, and we’d be shocked to hear outright bragging. Imagine someone in the office declaring, I am the best programmer in this company! or I am the most attractive person on this floor!

In I Corinthians 13:4, the Apostle Paul says love does not boast. So why do we do it? Why are we compelled to brag about our accomplishments and possessions?

Why We Boast

To understand why we boast, we need to consider who we are made to be.

Genesis 1 tells us that we are made in the image of God. Reflecting God’s glory is our first and highest calling. It is at the core of who we were originally made to be. And in Christ, we are new creations – remade – to reflect God’s glory in all aspects of our lives.

As we rest on Christ’s merits, we can look forward to the Father saying to us, as the master said to the servants in the parable of the talents, Well done, my good and faithful servant.

God will praise us for glorifying him. And, his praise will not consist of empty compliments. His praise will have eternal significance and meaning.

Something inside of us deeply desires praise from God. We desire to have his acceptance. We were made to have this kind of relationship with him. Receiving God’s praise is an indication that all is as it should be in our lives.

An Issue of Identity

How does this relate to boasting?

When we boast, aren’t we just praising ourselves? The praise we give ourselves is just a cheap, artificial substitute for the eternally significant praise we will receive from the Father.

What’s more, when we boast, we miss the opportunity to praise and encourage others. By praising ourselves, we fail to serve Jesus by serving our neighbors.

When we boast in the workplace, aren’t we just trying to establish an identity of success and meaning for ourselves? The key to overcoming the temptation to boast is to understand that our true identity is in Christ.

Rather than boasting to establish credibility for ourselves, we can rest in the knowledge that Christ is working out all things for our good. He is our credibility. This frees us up to love our colleagues by praising and encouraging them rather than ourselves.

Next in our series on Love at Work: Love is not arrogant.

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