Scandal At The FDIC Serves As An Important Reminder

By Mike Mitchell

by christiannewsjournal

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal about the professional culture at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation begins with this paragraph:

“A male Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. supervisor in San Francisco invited employees to a strip club. A supervisor in Denver had sex with his employee, told other employees about it and pressed her to drink whiskey during work. Senior bank examiners texted female employees photos of their [genitals].”

This should serve as spiritual smelling salts for Christians (like the one writing this article) who frequently feel the nebulous pressure of a subtle but very dangerous temptation, which is worldly ambition.

For a college student aspiring to make a career in the banking industry, landing a job with the FDIC would place him in the upper tier of a social hierarchy of high achievers. It’s the kind of success parents would mention three times in a mailbox chat with the neighbors. But prestige is a weird thing. It’s like a friend who constantly invites us over but is never home when we get there.

The key feature in guarding against the illusion of prestige is an awareness of the difference between mental impressions and reality. Mental impressions affect us without words. They’re just an ambient sense about how things are, and what most of us sense at the mention of impressive titles and elite organizations is the notion of someone who’s “made it.” When a business card reads, “Senior Bank Examiner, FDIC,” it’s clear that this is someone who’s “got it together.” At least that’s the impression made on the mind, but what if that same successful person is urinating off rooftops (see the article) and sending unsolicited lewd photos to coworkers? As it turns out, prestige can be a cloak of superficial success that covers deep failure.

The pervasive pressure to do something others will find impressive brings to mind a line from that fictional-but-too-realistic nemesis, Screwtape: “Prosperity knits a man to the World. He feels that he is ‘finding his place in it’, while really it is finding its place in him.” The patina of prestige reminds us that when we find our place in the world, we inevitably learn that it’s not much of a place.

Whenever Christians are tempted to think that a prestigious title means that someone is living the good life, we should meditate on Paul’s words to the Galatians:

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (Galatians 3:1-4)

Mike Mitchell holds an MA in theological studies from Asbury Seminary and a PhD in theology from Liverpool Hope University. He lives in the Mountain West with his wife and their five children. Mike also regularly writes for his Substack page at Write to Mike at

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