Rise and Shine - August 12
Does it Pay to be Nice?
Rise and Shine – August 12th
The Rise and Shine discussion group meets Sunday mornings at 9:00 am in the Parlor. Adults from the 8:00 & 10:00 services gather for discussions that are relevant to their lives through the lens of a current topic and scriptural references. This week's discussion outline can be read or downloaded below.
The [wicked] scoff and speak with malice;
loftily they threaten oppression.
They set their mouths against heaven,
and their tongues range over the earth.
Therefore the people turn and praise them,
and find no fault in them.
And they say, "How can God know?
Is there knowledge in the Most High?"
Such are the wicked;
always at ease, they increase in riches. (For context, read 73:1-28.)
The psalmist here struggles with the reality that all too often, those who gain power and riches are the wicked, not the righteous. It is only when the psalmist enters into worship, focusing on God instead of on people, that he begins to see that the gains of the wicked are ephemeral, ending in judgment and ruin (vv. 17-20).
In the news
Admission Criteria to Dartmouth MBA Program Stresses 'Niceness'
Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business recently released new criteria for evaluating candidates for its master's of business administration program. Luke Anthony Peña, executive director of admissions and financial aid at the Ivy League university, announced that in addition to providing evidence of intellectual ability, academic and non-academic achievements, prospective students need to explain what they believe they can add to the school and give an example of how they have helped someone else succeed.
Peña indicated that students who apply to Tuck must show that they understand that "being smart means practicing confident humility about what you do and do not know." And while they need to demonstrate diligence, professionalism and a commitment to their community that produces positive outcomes, those accomplishments must stem from a solid ethical foundation, wise judgment, risk assessment and ability to handle both "success and setback."
Tuck is looking for students who are self-aware, able and willing to learn from feedback from others, mapping out "coherent goals, audacious in scope yet grounded in reality."
"We are looking to see that candidates have a habit of niceness," said Peña, a quality the Tuck website describes as:
… kindness. You actively encourage, celebrate and support others. But being nice does not mean you're a pushover who always agrees and defers. Nice Tuck candidates exhibit emotional intelligence. You layer compassion onto courage, and challenge others tactfully and thoughtfully. You display both strength and vulnerability. You ask for help, and you help others. You're positive and principled. You act with respect and integrity, even when it's not convenient or easy. You show empathy for the diverse experiences of others, while also sharing your own. You recognize that your success and others' success are interdependent, and generously invest in both.
But emotional intelligence involves more than "niceness," according to Isser Gallogly, associate dean of MBA Admissions and Program Innovation NYU Stern. "When I think about nice, I guess I think of someone who is pleasant and agreeable," said Gallogly. "In business, there are times when you don't necessarily want to be agreeable. You have to have some difficult negotiations and conversations. It doesn't mean that you have to be hostile."
But by emphasizing "niceness," is Tuck setting up its students for less career and financial success? Jerry Useem, a contributor to The Atlantic, seems to think so. He points to a Notre Dame study which indicates that nice men earn about 18 percent less than not-so-nice men, while nice women earn about 5.5 percent less than not so nice women.
So is it true that "Nice guys finish last"? That "Might makes right"? That "Only the strong survive"? Research suggests that it depends. If people feel they benefit from the actions of a leader, they will tolerate and excuse much negative behavior. But if something goes wrong, the leader who has not been nice won't have a reservoir of good will to fall back on.
Business researcher Adam Grant, author of Givers and Takers, wrote that the most effective leaders are not-so-nice "'disagreeable givers' -- that is, people willing to use thorny behavior to further the well-being and success of others." They learn how to be tough without becoming toxic.
More on this story can be found at these links:
Here are some Bible verses to guide your discussion:
A dispute also arose among them as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest. But [Jesus] said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves." (For context, read 22:19-30.)
This jarring passage describes what happened at the Passover meal, after Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper and spoke about his impending death. The disciples seem so disconnected from what Jesus had been saying that you have to wonder whether they had heard a single word he said. All that consumed their minds was the question of which disciple should be considered the greatest. Their personal ambition led to contention among them, and a failure to comprehend Jesus' message.
Questions: What was the status of children and servants in Jesus' day? How does Jesus' concept of "greatness" relate to the question of whether leaders should be "nasty" or "nice"? What would it take for "the greatest" to "become like the youngest"? For the leader to become "like one who serves"?
2 Timothy 2:24-26
And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to everyone, an apt teacher, patient, correcting opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant that they will repent and come to know the truth, and that they may escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will. (For context, read 2:22-26.)
Here Paul instructs Timothy in how to be an effective pastor and leader. While the Bible doesn't use the word "nice," here the qualities of kindness, patience and gentleness might serve as synonyms for purposes of discussion.
We note that kindness, patience and gentleness are only part of the story. Paul recognizes that those who serve the Lord do have opponents. How are God's people to relate to them? Not by ignoring their errors or opposition, but by engaging with them with one purpose in mind: that they might come to know the truth and be freed to choose to do God's will rather than the devil's.
Question: How can we avoid arguments and quarrels while still offering gentle correction to those who have yet to respond to the call of Christ?
Prayer Attributed to St. Francis (BCP p.833)
Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is
hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where
there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where
there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where
there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to
be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is
in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we
are born to eternal life. Amen.