The plank in my own eye

It has been said that whenever we point an accusing finger at another person, three other fingers are pointing back at us.

It has been said that whenever we point an accusing finger at another person, three other fingers are pointing back at us. Jesus Christ put it another way in Luke 6:41-42: “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck that is in your brother’s eye.”

We don’t like to think of ourselves as complainers, but a closer examination of the conversations we have daily reveals that we are. We complain about the government’s lack of know-how in everything, the bank’s greed, the governor’s incompetence, the school’s policies, the teacher’s narrow-mindedness, the security guard’s stupidity, the landlord’s insensitivity, the neighbour’s parenting mistakes, the house help’s wastefulness…

Until recently, I was a vocal critic of our national leaders and public servants. I actively – and sometimes emotionally – participated in conversations that vilified anything and everything about them. It was no different in the workplace – the bosses, the HR department, “those people in accounts”, the cafeteria food, the guards at the gate, the supervisors, the cleaners… my colleagues and I were always better than all of them, and if we were given a chance, we could show them the best way to do their jobs!
One day, just recently, I got the sense that God was asking me softly: “When have you ever been the president of a nation that you know so much about running one?” My answer, of course, was “never”. I don’t have a clue.

Running my home is more than enough of a challenge.
But God did not stop there: He also started pointing out the planks in my own eye. As long as I had any sort of lack of integrity in my own life, I had absolutely no moral authority to point out the speck in another person’s eye. And neither do you, dear reader. So, before you condemn your boss for being incompetent or your colleague for being less qualified than you, or the company directors for being tribalistic, perhaps you should turn the spotlight on yourself.

If you are careless about paying your bills or school fees for your children, then you lack integrity. If you fail to file your tax returns, you have no right to criticise anyone; if you are having an affair with a married workmate or you have paid a bribe to get your trade licence or avoid arrest; if you are not looking after your family or you are cooking the accounts books; if you are not honouring the working hours you signed on your contract or meeting your sales targets; if you are in the habit of borrowing money and never repaying it, then you have absolutely no authority to point out the speck in another’s eye.

Often, we condemn in others what we would never dream of doing ourselves, forgetting that those we are condemning would never dream of doing the things we do but don’t consider wrong. For instance, a person may condemn an accounts clerk who steals money from the company and wonder how anyone could even think of doing such a thing. But the same person may come late to work daily, which is something that the accounts clerk would never do because she considers it wrong.

If you want your career to start growing, I recommend the first step is to stop complaining about anything. Complaining always takes away from any situation; it creates a deficit and causes all situations to look like problems. Instead, open your eyes to the opportunities that challenges create. Place yourself in the group that thinks about possible solutions. You are more likely to be remembered for solutions than for adding your voice to the complaining. And by the way, have you ever noticed that complaining has never improved a situation or caused it to go away? And especially if you are complaining to your fellow workmates instead of someone who can actually do something about it?

It might help to remember that except for the grace of God, you would not have that job – how many qualified people are out there, jobless? It is not because you are better or worse than them. It is because you have something to contribute in that place at that time. Make the most of that opportunity.

You are not being paid to complain but to help build or improve the organisation. Ideally, you should leave it better than you found it.