My first flatmate when I moved to Australia gave me a mug with the letters FIGJAM on it. My English upbringing hadn’t come across the acronym before. “I actually prefer orange marmalade,” I told her.
“No, it stands for ‘F*&K I’m good, just ask me’, ” she replied, rolling her eyes. It was my first insight into the odd Australian character mix that embraces earthy joy in success (‘You little ripper! Go you good thing!’) with a taking of the urea (‘You’ve got tickets on yourself there, mate. Steady on’)
If you begin to actually believe the FIGJAM? Then, in Aussie-slang, you’re a bit of a tosser. You’ve drunk your own Kool-Aid and you need to get over yourself.
Makes me wonder with G&J though. God made us fearfully and wonderfully, knowing His works are wonderful, so perhaps it’s more JAG not JAM. God’s opinion of us (Just Ask God) rather than our own opinion that sometimes gets pompous with pride or devalued by doubt.
As Proverbs 11:2 tells us: “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Or Proverbs 26:12: “Do you see a person wise in their own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for them.”
In Christianity, pride is one of the Seven Deadly Sins the Roman Catholic Church will point to. When viewed as a virtue, pride in one’s appearance and abilities is known as virtuous pride, greatness of soul or magnanimity, but when viewed as a vice it is often termed vanity or vain glory.
The trick then is remembering – being wonderfully made, bestowed with His gifts – is that anything I do with such wonderfulness is in glory to God not glory to me.
Now this is all very well in thought, but what about application? There are times when something brilliant will happen in a work situation (let’s say a staggering response rate to a direct marketing campaign) and a client will express delight in my knowledge, skills and expertise that contributed to that.
Now, I can modestly and humbly say, “No, no, it’s all God,” and my client will think I’m full of it. Especially if they don’t believe in God.
“Umm, God didn’t come up with the creative, did He? Or what about that cracking headline? I’m sure God doesn’t use words like that, Phil. Actually, if you are a Christian should you be using words like that in a headline?”
Umm, no, Possibly not. But, well, grace. And, my, look at the response rate!
It’s a personal minefield. Christian humility in a body that God blessed with a million mile an hour brain that just likes to GET STUFF DONE. Which is interesting when trying to assimilate the ‘other-focused’ approach that Jesus taught.
I’ve sat in meetings with other Christians and observed no-one willing to take ownership of a quick decision for fear of offending someone else in the room. “I can do that. Oh, but does someone else want to? I won’t do it if you’d prefer to.” And that’s just deciding on who is making the coffee…
In my secular-drawn landscape there’s no time for false-modesty if a decision needs to be made. Got the skills to make it happen? Yep. Then, let’s rock and roll. Time’s a wastin’.
Speed to action doesn’t mean an over-inflated sense of self importance. It simply means having confidence in your gifts, having seen them work before and trusting them to work again.
The secret to keeping it FIGJAG not FIGJAM is never quite believing you are as good as people may tell you and choosing to improve each day. Staying humble so you can see opportunities for growth. But not so humble that you sit there unwilling to pipe up and use those gifts He blessed you with. In secular speak, that’s called imposter syndrome: “Who am I to do that?” As Marianne Williamson would answer (below), “Who are you not… you are a child of God…”
But as soon as you drink the Kool-Aid, believe the FIGJAM, then you’re a goner. I love that. God wants us to use our gifts – fearfully and wonderfully just as He made – but to always remember who gave the gifts.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Marianne Williamson – A Return To Love