Tuesday, February 27, 2024

受威爾第病毒所苦嗎?

By Robert D. Foster

歌劇作曲家威爾第(Giuseppe Verdi)生平中有一個故事是關於有一晚他在義大利米蘭的斯卡拉歌劇院(La Scala)舉辦鋼琴獨奏會。當他演奏完最後一曲,熱情欣賞他演奏的聽眾要求再奏一曲。威爾第渴望掌聲,就選擇一首音量大且有許多裝飾音的作品,他知道這會使聽眾興奮、激動,雖然那首曲子就藝術專業而言,是次級的音樂。

當他奏完那安可曲,群眾再度站起來,歡聲雷動地喝采。威爾第享受著那延續的掌聲--直到他看到他坐在樓座上的生命導師。他的導師完全知道威爾第在做什麼。他的導師沒有隨著群眾站起來,也沒有鼓掌。他的臉上是失望的痛苦表情。威爾第幾乎可以聽到他的導師說:「威爾第,威爾第,你怎麼可以做這種事?」

我們可以把這種現象稱為「威爾第病毒」──想要掌控,需要被認可。德國哲學家尼采(Friedrich Nietzsche)這麼形容:「當我往上爬時,後面跟著一隻叫自我的狗。」當許多人給予讚美時,自我就膨脹。自我渴望權力與成功,而且不論得到多少,他永遠不滿足。

這個問題太普遍了,即使在這所謂現代、世故老練的工商專業界也是如此。男男女女努力著要得到別人注意,渴望得到奉承,操縱情況以執行自己的意願。幾乎每一天我們都能讀到或聽到有些領袖屈服於饑渴自我的試探。

當然,這種態度不是現代才有。自我中心與聖經一樣古老。以下就是聖經中的一些例子:

好為首。在約翰三書9-11節形容丟特腓「好為首」,或者另一個翻譯為「雄心勃勃地想成為第一」。對特權和操控的野心,不論配得與否,通常會帶來欽羨和威嚇的影響。

堅持照自己的方式去做。在舊約民數記22-24章,我們讀到巴蘭,他是聖經中真神的唯一外邦先知。他在某個程度上順服上帝,但他的心卻傾向與以色列人敵對的巴勒王。巴蘭想要順服上帝,但最後還是落入黃金的試探。他的頭腦充滿屬靈的亮光,但心中卻黑暗。主常常允許我們去做我們堅持做的事,即使那些是錯的。我們就是要做。我們努力去做。我們甚至禱告求主讓我們去做。「主阿,為什麼我不能擁有它?」

違背真理與智慧。在歷代志下10-12章,我們讀到羅波安的故事,他是所羅門王的傲慢兒子。羅波安認為自己繼承了家族的遺產與權力,人民就一定會屈服於他的偶發念頭。然而,他既沒有政治智慧,也不了解他父親對上帝的信靠。羅波安在58歲時就因驕傲和愚昧死了。「羅波安行惡,因他不立定心意尋求耶和華」(歷代志下12章14節)。

我們如何克服驕傲與自我中心的陷阱呢?請思想彼得前書5章5-6節:「就是你們眾人也都要以謙卑束腰,彼此順服;因為 神阻擋驕傲的人,賜恩給謙卑的人。所以,你們要自卑,服在 神大能的手下,到了時候,他必叫你們升高。

羅勃.符思特創辦了美國柯羅拉多州靠近柯羅拉多州泉的「遺失谷牧場」。他是一位商人, 50多年來他也每週撰寫有關商業的默想文章,現在他居住在加州。

省思 / 討論問題
你可否想到有一次當你──或你認識的某個人──用了不尋常的方法去得到別人的注意和認可?請描述那是怎樣的情況。 在工商專業界,人們若尋求滿足自我,會有哪些負面效果? 尋求滿足自我一定都是不好的事嗎?請解釋。 根據彼得前書5章5-6節,對抗驕傲和自我中心之試探的方法是謙虛和願意順服上帝。根據你的經驗,這麼做有多容易(或多困難)?註:若你有聖經且想要看有關此主題的其他經文,請看: 箴言11章2節,15章33節,16章5節,16章18-19節,18章12節,21章24節,22章4節;腓立比書2章3-4節;雅各書4章10節

AFFLICTED BY THE “VERDI VIRUS”?
By Robert D. Foster

From the life of the operatic composer Giuseppe Verdi comes the story of one night when he performed a piano recital at La Scala in Milan, Italy. After his final piece, the appreciative audience demanded an encore. Verdi, hungry for applause, chose a loud and frilly composition he knew would thrill the audience, even though it was, artistically speaking, inferior music.

When he finished, the crowd stood again, roaring its approval. Verdi basked in the extended applause – until he saw his lifelong mentor in the balcony who knew exactly what Verdi had done. His mentor neither stood with the crowd nor applauded. On his face was a pained expression of disappointment. Verdi could almost hear his mentor saying, "Verdi, Verdi, how could you do that?"

We could call this the “Verdi Virus” – the desire to control, the need to be approved. German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche described it this way: "Whenever I climb, I am followed by a dog named Ego." The ego swells when it is showered with praise. It craves power and success. And it is never satisfied with how much of these things it gets.

This problem is all too common, even in the so-called modern, sophisticated business and professional world. Men and women striving for attention, craving adulation, maneuvering for control to enforce the power of their wills. Almost every day we read or hear about leaders succumbing to the temptations of hungry egos.

Such attitudes, of course, are hardly new. Egocentricity is as old as the Bible. Here are just a few of the examples it presents:

Love for preeminence. In 3 John 9-11 it describes Diotrephes, “who loves to be first,” or as it says in another translation, he was "ambitious for the place of first distinction." Ambition for prestige and control often leads to adoration, deserved or not, and no small amount of intimidating influence.

Insistence on doing things our way. In the Old Testament, Numbers 22-24, we read about Balaam, who was the only Gentile prophet of the true God identified in the Bible. He obeyed God to a degree, but his heart went with the leadership of Balak, who opposed the Israelites. Balaam desired to obey God, but ultimately yielded to the temptation of gold. He had a head full of spiritual light, but a heart that was dark. Often the Lord permits us to do things we insist on doing, even if they are wrong. We want to do them. We push to do them. We even pray to do them. “Lord, why can I not have it?"

Defiance against truth and wisdom.
In 2 Chronicles 10-12 we find the story of Rehoboam, the insolent son of King Solomon. Rehoboam presumed his family legacy and power he inherited would cause the people to yield to his whims. However, having neither political wisdom nor an accurate understanding of his father”s trust in God, Rehoboam died proud and foolish at the age of 58. "And he did evil, because he never did decide really to please the Lord" (2 Chronicles 12:14).

How can we overcome pitfalls of pride and ego? Consider 1 Peter 5:5-6: “…All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under God”s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”

Robert D. Foster is the founder of Lost Valley Ranch near Colorado Springs, Colorado, U.S.A. A businessman and author of weekly business-related meditations for more than 50 years, he now resides in California.

Reflection/Discussion Questions
Can you think of a time when you – or someone you know – went to unusual measures to receive the attention and approval of others? Describe what that situation was like. What are some of the negative effects of people seeking to feed their egos in the business and professional world? Is seeking to satisfy the demands of one”s ego always a bad thing to do? Explain your answer. The antidote to the temptations of pride and ego, according to 1 Peter 5:5-6, is humility and a willingness to submit to God. How easy (or difficult) is that to do, in your experience?NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Proverbs 11:2, 15:33, 16:5, 16:18-19, 18:12, 21:24, 22:4; Philippians 2:3-4; James 4:10

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