Just when I think nothing more could surprise me in this job, along comes a story I just didn’t see coming.
Could there possibly be a more harmless, inoffensive vegetable than the lowly cucumber? I mean seriously? How can something that’s 95% water cause anyone harm? And yet we have more than 1,500 people ill, 18 dead and major diplomatic fallout across Europe. All because of cucumbers infected with a new strain of E Coli. Germany blames Spain, Spain is protesting its innocence and seeking compensation, and Russia has banned imports of fresh veg from the EU altogether.
Working in media and PR can be stressful and pressured. And sometimes you’re tested the most when you’re forced to act under pressure, when the finger’s pointing squarely at you. What do you do? Do you pass the buck? (‘It MUST be Spain’s fault, I’m sure I asked him to deal with that story’) Do you insist on payback? (‘Germany, you’ve TOTALLY misrepresented me!’). Do you withdraw from the situation out of self-preservation? (‘I’m sorry guys, this is your problem. Deal with it alone’).
There’s a lot of conflict in our business, and not only in the stories we write or the programmes we make. It’s a competitive industry and we want to be the best, to rise above and offer something unique and powerful. Whether working for charities, newspapers, broadcasters or churches, we all have competing agendas. We struggle against one another, and even within our own organizations, to get our points across and make our voices heard.
So as Christians in this competitive, agenda-driven industry, how do we do our jobs well and still honour Christ? Paul encouraged the Roman Christians to overcome evil with good and hand all things over to God:
“Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:17-21)
Simples? I wish. Sometimes it can be hard to know exactly what this means in terms of our work and behaviour, but we can be confident that if our spirits are willing, God can make us strong for his purposes.