Inter-personal dynamics in the workplace respond to the direct intervention of the Spirit.
The Situation: I’m at work making a sale in the museum store for a visitor. Another receptionist (I’ll call her Janet) is at the Front Desk by herself and approximately eight feet distant. Janet and I are cordial on the surface, but not real friendly. Suddenly a relatively new employee (I’ll call her Joan) dashes to the Front Desk to borrow a pair of scissors. Janet stops her and says in a stage whisper,
“Guess what happened? I was in the auditorium and someone asked me if I was Ginger! I told them ‘certainly not’ and walked away.”
Out of the corner of my eye I can see her glancing in my direction to get my reaction. I pretend not to have noticed anything. Then Joan responds,
“Eww! Who would want to be called Ginger!” Then she looks toward me and we make eye contact. Her face turns red and she almost runs back into the auditorium, not coming out again except to leave for the day.
My Reaction: Janet, Janet, Janet…what are you up to now? Poor Joan doesn’t deserve to be used by you to create more trouble and dissension in this place. But what did Joan mean by her comment? She doesn’t know me, we’ve never worked together, and I’ve always been polite and tried to answer questions about her job as it relates to the Front Desk. So what’s happening here? When Janet tries several times to draw me into a conflict-ridden conversation, I refuse to respond the way she is hoping, and she finally stops talking to me. I maintain an attitude of overlooking the whole situation and finish my day.
How The Deceiver Works: But it wasn’t over. Later that evening I was home preparing my dinner, and the whole scenario ran through my mind again in full Technicolor, blazing hot words searing the images of Janet and Joan, and every word that I had heard kept returning to my thoughts.
Then I got mad! The air in my kitchen turned blue with every word I was rehearsing to lay on Janet and Joan’s heads. This was not going to be pretty. By that time, I’d worked myself into a state where I couldn’t eat nor even sleep.
Several days later, back to work on my regular rotation, I told my supervisor what had happened and what I planned to do to them. Her advice was to just ignore it, as neither of them were worth my energy or further thoughts. This didn’t sound right, so I started praying in earnest that God would change me and my attitude towards them.
I soon became aware that my supervisor was wrong: Jesus knew that Joan was worth it.
How Jesus Intervenes: Several weeks later I felt a strong urging in my spirit that I needed to talk to Joan about the incident. Not having any idea what to say or how to bring up the ugly past again, I first ignored the prompting. It didn’t go away, but instead became stronger, almost urgent. So I set my mind to seek the right opportunity when I knew she would be alone in her office (she shared cubies with two other staff), and I walked in and sat down.
She was taken aback, as I rarely went upstairs to the staff offices and had never visited her before. At her clipped, “What’s up?” in a “you’re-bothering-me” tone, I drew a deep breath, thinking, “Okay, Holy Spirit, I’m here…talk through me.” And that is exactly what He did!
I told her I didn’t have any idea what her religious belief or background was, and that it didn’t matter, because I’d been taught from childhood that the Bible says if you have something against your brother to go to them alone and get it made right. Then I related word for word her conversation with Janet.
Her eyes got huge, her face turned scarlet, and she denied having said anything, three different ways. But then her shoulders slumped and she covered her face with her hands, admitting that I was right, adding that her mother would be so ashamed of her actions. She had been brought up better than she was acting and proceeded to apologize for having hurt me.
I could tell this was from her heart. I accepted the apology and suggested she reconsider who she was making friendships and alliances with and how her new friends were influencing her attitudes and actions. Finally, I prayed for her, gave her a hug, and went back downstairs, totally at peace in my spirit.
The Results: As in any office of fifteen or so employees, the tensions can get high and attitudes towards one another can be blurred by unmet deadlines or failed expectations. Yet in our office, things underwent a serious change for the better. After that one response to the urging of the Holy Spirit on my part, all the staff’s attitudes regarding my role at the Front Desk became gentle, warm, and friendly. Even years later, Joan still goes out of her way to come hug me and thank me over and over. Shortly after my talk with Joan, Janet suddenly resigned after displaying her bad attitude with both of her supervisors.
The Aftermath: God’s Word is not empty, and it does not fade away. This past October, Joan once again found herself following her peers’ negative attitudes toward a fellow staff member. She was called into the Executive Director’s office and told to apologize immediately for her behavior. When she went to the person and tried to apologize, the offended one only belittled her and screamed unkind language that other staff members could easily overhear. In tears, Joan returned to the H.R. office and related what had occurred. Then she went on to tell what she had done to me and how different that experience had been. She had not forgotten.
The Application: The Bible tells of the many interactions the Disciples had with Jesus, apparently on a daily basis. He was always teaching them how to think, act, and learn about their duties and place in life. Yet they also learned from His example in different situations, not just from His spoken words.
Today we have just as much guidance as the Disciples had, and perhaps more, because we have the Bible and the Holy Spirit. Paul exhorts us in Ephesians 5:1 to be imitators of Christ; this allows us to live in a relationship with God whereby He can work through us to carry out His own plan for each person.
I’m so thankful that because I listened to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, Joan could find out firsthand that Jesus loves and cares for her.
–A receptionist at the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library and Museums in Fremont, Ohio, Ginger enjoys gardening with her sister Ivy and being involved in the lives of her two granddaughters.