Work annoys me. Does it you? Maybe it’s the people we work with, or the business itself that irritates us. How do we deal with it?
For me it was a matter of scheduling, as in 6 days a week, and then it became 7. It interrupted my time and I got angry, there was “do-gooding” to be done. I could usually get off since others wanted the overtime that I was more than willing to give away. I also saw it start to wear people down. A verse sprung to mind that says you can’t serve two masters, God and wealth, because you will love on and not the other.
It was sending a value message.
Going Off Half-Cocked
My first instinct was to go into lecture mode in the front offices. I also know that was my limbic system in overdrive (ConCom). This calls for rationality. So how do you navigate a bureaucracy or business that doesn’t share your values?
Navigating The System
During this I was drawn to Daniel in the Bible who faced the same issues.
“But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. 9 Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel, 10 but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your[c] food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.”
11 Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 12 “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” 14 So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.” Daniel 1:8-14 NIV
The application? Negotiate without compromising your integrity. Can your values work together? An example I saw play out at work is in one department only three people are qualified. They don’t get a day off unless the plant’s down. One of them, an atheist, worked a 20 hour shift so the Christian one could go to church on Sunday.
“Then they said to the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, Your Majesty, or to the decree you put in writing. He still prays three times a day.” 14 When the king heard this, he was greatly distressed; he was determined to rescue Daniel and made every effort until sundown to save him.” Daniel 6:13-14 NIV
Do your job well. Is your character consistent? Rory calls it the Power of Reputation in ConCom. The thing is we don’t get to pick our reputations. It’s based on how we treat people, not our reasons and excuses.
I have a rep as a “stubborn ass” that I have to work to overcome. Telling others that they’re just wrong didn’t change a thing. To quote Rory, “A good reputation will give you some protection from honest mistakes. A bad one will undermine everything you do.”
Sometimes though, something happens that you can’t bend on. It happened to Daniel, and it happened to his friends. Someone tried to get between them and God.
Where To Draw The Line
“Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us[c] from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18 NIV
Don’t compromise and take the consequences. God is the top priority and who we value most. Work or government is only third, at the most, on the list. God rescued them though, and later Daniel.
When we first started working Saturdays I prayed with a lady at church to get me out of it. Overtime was getting in the way of ministry commitments. I go all in.
The next day another supervisor said he’d work all my overtime that I didn’t want. He pretty much does. Then Sundays happened, and I began to pray again about the work schedule.
“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
The same day I was looking at Daniel for advice on what to do I opened up an email newsletter that quotes Charles Spurgeon. Pastor Rod calls these “words from God”. They’re surprisingly timely, accurate verses or teaching from the Bible that comes to us.
It starts with “Surrender!” Then quotes Exodus 14:13-14: “Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
The last sentence jumped at me that day, driving deep. I had seen him work before, through my court case, DHS, smaller emergencies, and recently with the Saturdays. He was providentially working. My issue is the hard time staying still.
What we can do is be of good character, don’t compromise it, or our relationship with God. Leave it to God. It may mean finding a new job. What I’ve learned in my journey is that when I seek the Kingdom of God first, he does take care of my needs. It’s then that we can be comfortable that we’re in God’s will.