Key verse: “Let us not become weary in doing
good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Galations 6:9 (NIV)
I had taken up yet another assignment for my not so pleasant supervisor.
Correction: I did not have the courage
to refuse yet another assignment from the scariest (short tempered, moody and
unpredictable) person in my department.
The assignment was time consuming and
monotonous, and I would gain nothing from it- not even praise.
Being at the bottom of the corporate
ladder and having lower qualifications than most of my colleagues made me an
ideal scrape goat for assignments of this kind.
Also the reason why my colleagues
called me the door mat- yet again!
The doormat title wasn’t a new one.
The descriptions changed: in childhood
it was called caring, helpful, pleasant, friendly; in adulthood it was called
people pleasing, diffidence, irresoluteness, non assertiveness.
The feelings of resentment and anger
that rose within me, did not diminish over time.
I love my job and unpleasant tasks like
this one are scarce.
But after sleepless nights at the
computer, a nauseating road trip of 300 kms, and another degrading comment, I
did some introspection.
Where was the boundary between being a stepping stone and a door mat?
Should I turn down assignments that are
unpleasant (or from an unpleasant person)?
Should I feel taken advantage of when
assigned additional tasks?
A verse in the bible reading that day
struck me:”If someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your
cloak as well; and if someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two.”(Matthew
This was not about developing assertiveness, making priority lists, being productive, and setting professional boundaries.
This was not about self preservation.
The instinct that says: What is in this
do I benefit financially or career wise by doing this task?” “I will not to
tire myself out physically and emotionally, so that have energy left to do what
I have planned afterwards.”
Our instincts tell us to pursue
success, happiness and health.
We falsely believe that we lose
something by rendering of ourselves or our possessions.
Our instincts are strong, but blind and
need direction. Unless directed towards God, we may lose the very thing that we
yearn for. In seeking happiness, we may lose it; in seeking health, become
unwell; in seeking satisfaction, become delusional.
Self preservation focuses on self while
sacrifice denies self.
The word of God says that it is better
to give than to receive.
That pursuing purity of heart is better
than pursuing health and happiness.
That in order to reap generously, we
are to sow generously. (2 Corinthians 9:6)
We are further asked to give
cheerfully, not out of regret or compulsion. (2 Corinthians 9:7)
God promises that if we suffer, he
will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish us. (1Peter 5:10)
I thought back on my supervisor, the one universally disliked. Whose entrance into the office, caused others to leave. Whose voice caused people to pretend deafness.
God however seemed to say that day: “He’s
my child too”.
Suddenly I didn’t feel resentful, I felt
sorry for him. I pitied him for the life he had created, his use of threat rather
than love to get work completed and his lack of meaningful relationships in life.
I realized that the only way to
overcome evil was with love.
I prayed for him that day.
He didn’t change and became a wonderful human being.
This assignment didn’t get me the
promotion and raise I was waiting for.
What had changed was my attitude.
I stopped slandering him, and even
attempted to defend him when he was unjustly criticized.
I certainly lost my dread of him, even
though there were harsh words carelessly tossed at times.
I learned that you don’t lose anything by giving.
Dear Lord, we pray
that you will always be first in our lives. Help us to follow your example in
selflessness and look to you when we feel weak, insecure and unappreciated.
When we are tempted to indulge in ourselves or disregard someone else, remind
us that we are all equal in your sight. Help us to understand that we fulfil
your purpose in our lives only when we submit ourselves to you. In Jesus name,