Many will rightly ask “what’s up with the religious content in your posts”? I say rightly because it’s abnormal these days as society in general avoids discussions of politics or religion to keep away from areas that cause conflict. In many contexts this seemingly works well in the immediate term, but everyone addresses life via presuppositions. To understand where they are coming from it is useful to uncover these sometime unconscious thoughts, so that you can start to unpack and understand the implications of these thoughts and beliefs. Using a superficial example for comparative purposes, a person who has deeply held convictions around honesty and theft will make a different decision than a kleptomaniac. How we reach those conclusions is driven by our worldview, that is, how we see the world as a whole. Below is a snapshot of some of my presuppositions, based on a Christian worldview.
We don’t make the rules…
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth… So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.Genesis 1:1, 27
Creation and possession of an object is usually a good indicator of ownership. To remove that ownership another must arise that overthrows your claim and imposes there own will on it. This may be a governing body, or simply someone who takes the object via cunning or force. However, in the case of the earth and everything in it, there is nothing that can remove God’s ownership. His purposes will always be accomplished, even when all the peoples and authorities of earth set themselves up to overthrow his creator-based ownership. When speaking of this very scenario the Holy Scriptures say that “He who sits in heaven laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. (Psalm 2:4)” In short, we don’t own this world, or even ourselves. Much like determining ownership is prerequisite maturing an environment, a proper understanding of the primary ownership of everything is critical to our ultimate success.
We’re not flying blind…
There’s an old term of “flying blind” that references pilots (without the aid of modern navigational aids) who are overcome by weather and effectively lost due to the impairment of visual navigation. It’s not that their aircraft has suddenly broken, or lost capabilities it had at the start of the journey. Their challenge is that the weather has rendered effective navigation impossible. Today this is largely unheard of with modern capabilities, but this was not the case just a few years ago when pilots simply had the the aid of a compass or the stars. In our case of navigating life we’re not left without navigational aids as we seek to understand the created order that we inhabit. We’re not limited or destined to blindly stumbling our way through the darkness of time, with no navigational beacon to follow.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction… then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the ways of his saints. Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path.Proverbs 1:7, 2:5-9
Most people want to understand righteousness, justice and equity; the question is, how do we know we’re understanding it properly? Many individuals have committed horrendous atrocities, doing what they perceived to be right. How do we ensure that we’re not doing the same, but at a much smaller scale? The answer is in deference to the proper owner’s guidance. This requires humility, for as the Scriptures tell us we are fallen, naturally adversarial to God, and by nature seeking that which is evil. Thankfully there is restoration and a new view on the world around us that is gained through Jesus Christ.
Faithfulness is critical…
Scripture is full of references to faithful and honest dealings with those around us. And while most people would vehemently agree with this, I’m likely going to challenge the understanding of some in this area. There is not unique to my readers; I am constantly challenged in my own life around my own areas where I have not been faithful.
You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a large and a small. You shall not have in your house differing measures, a large and a small. You shall have a full and just weight; you shall have a full and just measure…Deuteronomy 25:13
A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is his delight.Proverbs 11:1
How do we view this in the context of a technical business today? How about in the management of our households, and training of our children? Speaking strictly from a business prospective, if you have contractual terms, are you fulfilling them faithfully? If you know you aren’t meeting your SLA for availability, but the customer isn’t complaining, do you let it go unnoticed; or do you preemptively issue the proper credits? If you’re not going to make your milestone, are you changing the milestones to still make them appear successful? Some times it’s a clear-cut distinction, other times it’s challenging because personal discretion is involved. The question here is, what is our value placed on faithfulness? Where is my value placed on faithfulness?
Count the cost of your efforts…
In general people realize that nothing is “free”. Even in the wonderful world of open source software, where the term “free as in beer” is common, there is still a realization that it still costs something. Using the open source example, the cost likely comes in the form of additional management overhead, contributing to needed security patches, or just in the compute resources required to run the software. I was recently struck by the comments of another regarding virtualization when he said (I paraphrase) “It used to be people turned off old racks to servers to see who screamed. If nobody screamed, they got rid of them. Now, they just virtualize them so they take minimal resources“. The implications of what he said can be far reaching, but they all boil down to a failure to adequately manage the lifecycle of our efforts. I’m guilty of this as well. It’s easy to spin up a low-cost VM, then forget it’s there and/or fail to maintain it properly. In an enterprise the challenge is even larger as responsible users and sometimes entire teams come and go. Fast-forward a couple years and now the system or ecosystem is a security nightmare waiting to happen.
For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?Luke 14:28
The question here, much like Jesus Christ challenging his listeners to count the cost of following him, is what are you considering completion? If we’re honest, in the IT-related industries the “completed” milestone is when something goes live, or GA. That’s when bonuses are handed out, congratulations are in order, and we all move on to bigger and better things. However, if we look around, what is the cost of such a viewpoint? Is it in stretched staff maintaining systems that should have been replaced years ago? Or, is it in a lurking security vulnerability that’s on a system that doesn’t even have an owner? Much like our larger world, end-of-life is a critical consideration in all our efforts.
Impartial judgement awaits…
It’s very easy to justify risk when you judge the likelihood of negative consequences to be low. Naturally as humans we’re focused on the short-term benefits that we’ll receive, and we weight our decisions in that direction. However, it’s a very different matter when you realize that we live in a created world where every action, even word will be impartially judged. If you viewed the risk of doing wrong with a 100% chance of being caught, would you still do it?
Now I will shortly pour out my wrath on you and spend My anger against you; judge you according to your ways and bring on you all your abominations. My eye will show no pity nor will I spare. I will repay you according to you ways while your abominations are in your midst; then you will know that I, the Lord, do the smiting.Ezekiel 7:8
But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgement. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.Matthew 12:36-37
Please realize that I am not speaking out of naivety, deltas from the ideal state are constant. In the world of business we’re constantly trying to improve that delta. My goal here is to focus on our mindset around the acceptance of terms and how we weight our approach to remaining in compliance with them. If you have a known delta, do you prioritize it over the new feature?
We’re not the judge…
Most of the time the most difficult part for myself is that it’s so easy to see the shortcomings of others, while justifying my own actions. This is also true when considering the blindness caused by the physical locations, and times that we live in. We must be careful to be aware of our own weakness in self-justifying, or assuming that our current approach is the best.
None of us can fully escape this blindness, bu we shall certainly increase it, and weaken our guard against it if we read only modern books. Where they are true they will give us truths which we half knew already. Where they are false they will aggravate the error with which we are already dangerously ill. The only palliative is to keep the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through our minds, and this can be done only by reading old books. Not, of course, that there is any magic about the past. People were no cleverer than they are now, they made as many mistakes as we. But not the same mistakes… Two heads are better than one, not because either is infallible, but because they are unlikely to go wrong in the same direction.C.S Lewis – Introduction to Athanasius: On the Incarnation
The key here is that we must let our own sins and shortcomings bother us more than the failure of others. While there is Biblical direction to address wrongdoing and to discipline as appropriately delegated, those actions are always to be accompanied by humility. Knowing that I am just as prone to failure, even in the same area. After all, if it were not for the blood of Christ that was shed on my behalf, I would be just as guilty as anyone else. So, if you aren’t in the proper position to address or discipline, then let it pass by. The Lord himself will right every wrong, and he doesn’t need you (or I) to do it for him.
No decision is small, nor can anything be adequately viewed without proper context. We’re bound to faithfulness to our Creator and the ethics that he has defined as right and good. He is the fountainhead of goodness as those attributes flow from his own nature. Do all of this in humble reliance on his provision of our own deliverance through his atonement through Jesus Christ, the Son of God who became man – yet without sin.