Navigating Unfairness in Life and Work

A sense of justice is hard-wired into the human psyche. Without training, a three-year-old will say, “Unfair!” We are rightly outraged at abuse, prejudice, and violence. But what about the more daily, subtle ways unfairness comes into our lives?

A colleague and I sat down with a leader and shared some of our creative thinking for a new product. We were met with condescension and kindness and the meeting ended well. A year later, we discovered that our ideas had been rebranded, and met with public favor!

Our first responses were incredulity, anger, and resignation. It was maddening to see another get credit and our efforts be ignored. We both thought, “Self-denial is hard when he advances, and we are ignored.”

It is frustrating when others are celebrated, and we feel unheard and unseen. Our first reactions are not yet sins. The next moments determine whether we wallow in self-pity or cultivate godly character. When unfairness happens, our hidden religiosity comes to the surface.

Three insights help us endure these moments. First, remembering God’s mercy in our lives helps us extend grace when life is unfair (Rom. 12:9-21). Second, we ultimately work for One Master, who will reward more lavishly that human leaders (Col. 3:17-25). Finally, God uses these moments for our transformation (Rom. 8:28-39).

Life will be unfair. But we can turn our circumstances into character development and wisdom. We do not celebrate victimhood; however, we can refuse to wallow in commiseration and chose the high road of forgiveness.

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