When Work is a Nightmare
By: RJ Thesman
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” (Colossians 3:23).
Working in a dream environment is a goal for most of us. But when the dream turns into a toxic nightmare, how do we climb out of bed every morning and make ourselves go to work? What are some practical tools we can use in the workforce? And what is the Christian’s responsibility when dealing with difficult co-workers?
First, try to understand what's happening.
The Native American proverb is still a good principle, “Don’t judge people until you’ve walked a mile in their moccasins.”
In today’s work environment, everyone is dealing with some type of stress. A co-worker whose fibromyalgia flares every morning will not be a cheery person. The same goes for a mother whose son is facing prison time or a wife who is struggling to keep her marriage together. A deadly prognosis from the doctor. Depression, mounting debt, a parent with Alzheimer’s disease. All these issues and more can be festering in a nearby cubicle. Try to understand what’s at the root of the difficult relationship.
Next, Remember: Humility wins.
The balance between standing up for ourselves and showing humility is a delicate line. But in the long run, we need to ask ourselves, “How can I sleep tonight if I respond to this co-worker with the same bad attitude? What does God require of me in this situation?”
The biblical example is Joseph, who was mistreated, betrayed, and misunderstood. Yet he humbly continued to serve even while imprisoned. “God granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden” (Genesis 39:21) and eventually Joseph was released and promoted.
Joseph also knew when to set a boundary and stand up for his rights. “Remember me,” Joseph said to Pharaoh’s cupbearer, “and show me kindness. Mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison” (Genesis 40:14).
Finally - Pray for them.
Even if your prayers don’t release you from the situation, they can strengthen your resolve “to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).
A whispered prayer after an unkind remark can release resentment that might have festered into bitterness. An honest petition to the Holy Spirit to comfort the hardened places in difficult co-workers might become the salve of their salvation. We rarely understand the full scope and power of prayer. What it can accomplish is a mystery. Sometimes just repeating the name, “Jesus,” has helped me past the struggle of the moment.
As one of my encouraging friends says, “Do your best and surrender the rest.”
Editor’s Note: Part of this devotional was taken from 10 Ways to Deal with Difficult Co-Workers by RJ Thesman. You can read the full blog post here.
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