Learning Hard Lessons

By Michelle Koh, reprinted from the Salt & Light Australia Daily Devotional.

There I stood, wondering if I would get sacked on my first job out of university. It had only been a few weeks at this job and I did not realize the gravity of the mistake I made. By changing a setting on a piece of computer network equipment during office hours, it caused an outage for a mere microsecond. Seems like a blink of the eye, but a second of downtime in the financial industry can result in a loss of millions of dollars.

Looking back at that moment in time, I resonate with this quote from the late Eugene Peterson, author of The Message Bible translation who said: “I’m prepared to contend that the primary location for spiritual formation is the workplace.”

I’m sure I’m not alone to say that we have learnt heaps of lessons over the years through our work – whether it be paid or not. From some workplaces, I’ve learnt more of what NOT to do. From others, I’ve been fortunate enough to be amongst great role models. Perhaps, our patience might have grown as a result of interacting under pressure with the diversity of people and teams in our jobs. 

Back to my story – not that I wish to make such a potentially financially impactful mistake again, but I learnt a lot that day. I was very fortunate to be part of a great team and witness servant leadership in action. As a result of that second, my manager spent hours in countless meetings, taking responsibility for my actions and it resulted in an overhaul of systems to ensure that a rookie like me could not make a mistake like that in the future. I know that day my job was spared by the words and actions of my manager, and decades later, his sacrificial example inspires me in the way I lead others and take care of the people God has entrusted to me. Working with that team has  played a huge part in shaping me to value integrity, excellence and leadership.   

So today, I invite you to go back in time, and reflect on the things you’ve done – not just the paid jobs, but any contribution you have made to the world – and ask yourself the following questions:  

  • What life lessons have you learnt? 
  • How have they formed you? 

Heavenly Father, thank you that you care about us. For how we go about living our day to day lives. Thank you for bringing people and situations, however hard they might be at the time to shape and mold us to be more Christlike. Teach us to be humble, to learn from others, to endure hardship and to rejoice in the places we find ourselves in today. Amen. 

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