My experience could not have come at a worse moment as my wife was 5 months pregnant with our first child and ‘we was broke’.
I was working as a green sales rep selling computers to anybody that might buy one in those days. It was an exciting time as you could purchase a really expensive computer with (2) 5 1/4″ floppy drives for your business and be ultra productive if you had one. I was knocking on doors of doctors, dentists, lawyers and any business that the co-owners of the company in run down Toledo thought might buy one.
It took a while to drum up business but I actually had some pretty decent sales. I closed a deal with a large doctors office and we promised them the world to get the deal finalized. Included with the computers and software was supposed to be training on the software. Little did I know that the only way they were getting the promised training was if I did it for them.
Integrity was of the highest focus in my life at the time as I was doing what was termed ‘on the job training’ to be a Church Pastor. I couldn’t possibly let the first big deal I had go bad as I had ‘mine and God’s reputation’ on the line. I ended up using a large portion of my selling time towards training the five ladies as they would not pay for the whole deal until training was completed. And the owners likewise would not pay me my large expected and much needed commission check until the doc paid in full. So I had little choice but to do the training.
This of course led to a down-slide in sales but working with Dr R produced some very good leads so it seemed worthwhile. Meanwhile one of my regular customers was buying computer monitors routinely. We were a small business struggling to be big and being run poorly. As most SMB’s go you have to wear a lot of hats, so for some deals I was operating as a purchasing manager as well. I could not figure out why we kept getting cut off by all our suppliers until one day I watched through a partially opened door how our receptionist and the owner handled a delivery from UPS.
Fifteen monitors showed up C.O.D. (that’s cash on delivery since we had terrible credit). The owner went through all the boxes and found #15 which was the box that had the C.O.D. tag on it to pay for all 15 of them. He told the UPS driver that we were refusing that one box as we had only ordered 14. I was trying to figure out what was going on as I knew I sold 15. By turning away the C.O.D. box we got the 14 without having to pay for them. Little did I know, this delay tactic or thievery was happening on a routine basis.
I was naive at the time and was not aware of the obvious dire situation at hand. To add to the atmosphere the moral fiber of the whole place reached its lowest point when the manager of the retail store was arrested for a sex crime. At my suggestion the owners appointed a newer, younger than me, struggling sales rep as manager. I heard they planned to fire her and I mentioned they should at least give her a try, so they did. At least that is how I think it went down.
A couple months later the Christmas season was upon us and it looked like things were going to pick up at the retail store as Commodore came out with a really hot computer. I volunteered to go work at the retail store for a while in lieu of the outside sales routine. I could still do both and get a little experience and make extra money doing so. We needed it badly.
Things were going well but suddenly the new store manager was getting very tight with the owners and I felt something I would grow to hate forever, micro management. She asked m to put together a report on what I was doing in the retail side and on the outside. I laughed at the request and gave a sarcastic, sure, I’ll get that for you tomorrow, having no intent whatsoever to do it. After all, I was not only doing multiple jobs at this company, but also running several Bible studies back at my church. I had God on my side. Why do I need to do a stupid report for someone whom I helped get the position they had anyway?
A few days went by and I continued to ignore the request despite a couple more reminders. On a Thursday morning I walked in and was called to the back office. I was asked if I had the report done. I smirked, are you serious? This is ridiculous, why do I need to tell you what I am doing with my time outside this store? She said because the owners asked me too, as I told you, and like it or not, I am your boss. You have left me no choice, You’re fired.
I couldn’t believe it. I am not sure exactly what I said at that point but I’m sure it was not bless you my dear in your future endeavors. I had an exit review with the owners, one of whom was a lawyer who threw in some legal warnings and other jargon. I started off playing the good Christian part. But as the conversation went on I let them know what scum they were and how God was going to judge them some day for all the unrighteous things they were doing. Someday, they would pay!
I’m not sure if I actually said that or not, but I know in my heart and mind that is what I wanted to say. The nerve of those jerks. In my mind the thoughts swirled and sadly remained for many years. They deserved to be judged and I harbored wanting God’s justice to come down not only on them but anyone like them.
In reality it seems it ultimately did. That company went under not long after and I heard the lawyer was disbarred because of some of the unscrupulous things he did with the company. I felt a little justified.
It took quite a few years to realize I handled the whole situation terribly wrong. Like it or not all jobs or businesses will have seemingly unfair or cesspool like scenarios to deal with. How we view ourselves as the hotshot or not is important to realize there is a hierarchy of authority we have to live under. More important is if we don’t accept those terms, it can eat us up on the inside when the inevitable ‘unjust’ situation comes upon us.
I joked to a friend recently that I had a long list of people’s faces in my head who have done me wrong. Many of those faces probably do not belong there, and even if they do, the one who suffers the most in creating a list of mind filled enemies is, ME. Or if you are like me and have harbored and built up, over many years, thousands of additional people dealings gone wrong, then US. It really is not a joke though if not dealt with. Alana Stewart wrote ‘ Bitterness and resentment only hurt one person, and it’s not the person we’re resenting – it’s us.’
But there is a better way to deal with bitterness. You can try and fight it all on your own or just plain live with a life of bitterness. If interested in finding the cure, read on in The Portico.
There is nothing more that I would love to tell you than ‘here is an instant cure’ for bitterness, hate, anger, resentment and the other thoughts that can easily permeate and torture the mind. But my story of what happened in my job way back in 1987 also took place with a bad church experience also. It seems there is no safety from hurtful situations, they come from everywhere, so running to a new environment solves nothing.
I do however firmly believe the beginning stage is the need for all to admit we are not perfect and need a Savior not only for all we’ve done to others, but also for healing the pain for all that has happened to us. A loving God sent His Son down to this earth as you may hear during this Christmas season. We know (well if you don’t then you MUST READ My Earlier Life Story ) that Jesus died on a cross to allow us to have a relationship with God. That born-again new life relationship is the cure all. But just as a baby needs food when it is born and grows in various stages, so it is for a Christian. It is not instant perfection, it is growth in a walk with the Father. It is however instant perfection in God’s eyes as we become children of His, that is how He sees us through that cross.
Yet for many, bitterness and hate may infiltrate anew or memories of the past mess up the oneness that is supposed to be there. Just as a baby or even we adults stumble at times, we have to be aware of how people dealings are difficult. We can easily trip into bad reactions and let it fill us with bitterness. It should not be so, as Jesus said:
“ Matthew 5:43-47 “You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for them, for then you are working out of your true (NEW – my add) selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. It shines or rains on both the good and the bad. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.“
I started out this series on Loyalty as it is a key component to growth in becoming better representatives of Jesus. We cannot say we really love God if we hate people. For some we have long lists, for some short. Either way, any is too much. The Bible especially says it is most important, with fellow believers (1 John 2:9-11 ).
I allowed a period in my life to be lived totally unloyal to any church for a number of years. We had some things happen with a church that caused much pain and bitterness to the point we could not set foot in a church for a long time. We claimed we still had a relationship with God. And although I firmly agree factually that nothing can separate us from God’s love, we suffer and lose the benefits of the relationship that God so wants to have with each and every one of us, if we go at it alone. Without going into the details of what happened to cause us to leave the group, we belonged to for 12 years, that on the job training went down the tubes with bitterness. I sadly admit, I handled it terribly wrong.
Today we see faction and mutinies take place too often in the church. While cases do exist of wayward leaders and abusive situations, we forget they are caused by humans, not God. Our most important task is being in sync with Him and we have to be aware if a leader is not out of line, then some people will be. No church or leader or family is perfect. If they were, we would not need God’s grace. Hello! In our case I could easily rattle off all the wrongs that were done (and like the lawyer in my fired story some of them lost their positions and long departed, so maybe justice happened). That should have not caused me to not at least find a new church family.
Because I took it personally and allowed the whole scenario to affect my relationships with people I was close to I allowed anger and resentment to affect me and my family. I’d love to re-do what happened and insure my heart was not surrounded by bitterness. But ‘un-doing’ is very difficult. It does involve forgiving all in our hearts, which in the past few years I have done. It does sometimes require directly talking with and forgiving the very people involved. Which I have done. It does sometimes mean going back and asking forgiveness to those whom we allowed our bitterness to offend them, which I have done. (and if not to you, send me an email to ask – seriously at email@example.com)
I write today to help those who are facing, have faced, or will face similar situations in work and church so you will not do it the wrong way, as I did. If you read this far, may the hope that all can be better instead of bitter be a gift to you at this Christmastime.
Leaving on a good note, God is unbelievably forgiving! He is a God that is always good and One who is a God of second chances and third, and 4th, 5th… We should not take advantage of His goodness though. I let a lot of years go to waste harboring bitterness. Sometimes they creep back in, but nowadays, I cannot express how much better it is to be freed of that ball and chain. There is nothing more healing (afterwards that is) than seeking and finding someone I either offended or whom offended me and mending fences. Better yet, is not letting new ones to settle in.
If you suffer from bitterness, don’t let it kill you. See how God sees you and live again!
For a great song on how God sees you click here and listen to Heavenly Places. (I love this song, it is so healing.)
And don’t beat yourself up, if you are suffering with guilt of offending people or living as an offended victim, if you have/had a relationship with God remember:
Nothing Can Separate Us from God’s Love Romans 8:31-39
What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.
35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep. 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
If you are reading this now, it is not too late to mend your heart and relationships. I’d love to hear your stories of restoration. Please share it with others in the comments, others may need to hear it as well.