Outward appearance and professional accomplishment have risen to such prominence in our culture today that the inward character of a person is rarely considered. Hiring decisions are often made based on one's resume, fashion sense, and articulation alone, with little weight given to the real person behind the applicant. Pastors are put in pulpits because they deliver ear-tickling sermons, not because they are wholesome people. Middle managers are promoted because they make bar graphs "sing," not because they are selfless servants who have the best interests of the business/organization in mind. Many academic leaders are put in positions of authority because they are willing to do whatever it takes to increase enrollment, not because they truly care about educating the next generation of critical thinkers. And, of course, the list goes on and on.
Indeed, we live in a society where few presume that it is the meek (i.e., people of character) who inherit the earth; rather, most would agree that it is the chic (pronounced "sheek") who inherit the earth. There are many potential reasons for this, but I believe it boils down in many cases to busyness. We are so busy today that we don't have the time or energy to get to know people. So we settle for their metrics--those superficial indictors that we think tell us about the person, but rarely do. If someone is successful at generating income for the business, then we think this means she is a hard worker and conscientious. But it could just mean she is manipulative and dishonest. Without knowing the person, we never know which it is. Or if someone is always "Johnny on the spot" with reports and solutions, then we think he is smart and team-oriented. But it could just mean he is merely trying to please the bosses in order to get promoted, all the while backstabbing his colleagues along the way. Again, without knowing the person, we never know which it is.
Of course, getting to know people more intimately and valuing character traits over style is difficult and requires effortful intentionality. And, let's face it, putting aside our cultural penchant for chicness and replacing it with a more biblical and spiritually mature preference for meekness is no easy task. We like the glitz, glamour, and quick-gratifications of style better than we do the slow rewards of humility, restraint, kindness, and servanthood. Yet, it is these latter character traits that make for better employees, higher organizational morale, and greater team success. Those who "seek meek, not chic" receive greater long-term benefits than those who fall victim to the whims of superficiality.
So, while style may carry a lot of weight in our culture, it is character that carries the water! We must learn this as a society before we trade our greatest employees for mere caricatures of greatness. Our parents and grandparents were right: it's what's on the inside that truly matters. Sure, there is a place for chic in our culture, but it shouldn't be first place in the job market!