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Monday, September 13, 2004

What it means to me to be radically transformed

While driving to work today, I was reflecting on my pastor’s sermon at church yesterday. He preached from Luke 5:25-32, and from that passage, he drew from the experiences of Jesus to apply to our lives today. He said that we must stay focus on the mission of our church which is simply to go out (Jesus left the town...where He had just performed a miracle, he did not stop to bask in the glory of that event, but went out of his way, v. 27a) of our way-get out of our comfort zone-to see (Jesus saw a tax collector, one of the outcasts of the then society, v. 27b) the misfits (the needy, the disenfranchized, the powerless, those not able to repay, etc) out there in society, and share (Jesus dined-partied-with Levi, v. 30) life-be real, be honest & vulnerable, be there with and for them-transparently in an authentic manner with them. In the process, we need to embrace total, reckless abandon to God’s sovereign control, to celebrating life and to intentionally seeking out the unwell, and the hurting around us to touch their lives with God’s healing balm.

As my pastor spoke, I had a familiar warmth inside me. I was saying, Yeah! I like that! That’s what I am about! I can connect with that! I want to abandon myself to God’s total care and to dare to trust Him to use me to seek the misfits, the hurting, the disenfranchized and the unlikely, unsuspecting in order to let His Spirit work in them through me.

Yet, within a few short minutes at my desk, and my feathers were ruffled, and I was shaken senseless. The e-mails from my boss, the crises that she created and fires she started for me to put out, all of a sudden it seems such a tall order for me to fulfill God's purposes in my office, in my work and in my life! In fact, I reacted badly to my boss' belittling e-mails, and her overbearingly selfish, soul-destroying tones in the way she (1) undermines the quality of work we have done as not up to par (2) that she is the only one who knows how to serve the customer aright and (3) we must acknowledge our total helplessness, unworthiness to have the privilege to work under her as our mentor, supervisor and manager. She sounds incredible doesn't she? Believe me, you haven't met another boss like this! I was totally taken aback on my first day of work when she assigned me to a project, and upon sitting down at the computer I found that it did not have Microsoft Office installed. I promptly sought out one of the IS department staff members and found a copy of Microsoft Office to install on this computer. When she found out what I had done, she gave me a public lecture about software licensing, proper protocol and procedures etc etc for about fifteen mintues. And, that is about one of the shortest lectures I have experienced since. I'm telling you! She is The Boss from That Other Place Beyond the Great Chasm!

At lunchtime today, I once again reflected what my pastor spoke about yesterday. In his sermon, he punctuated the points throughout with the question, "What about you?" Yeah, what about me? I was totally ashamed of my immature reactions to my boss' antics this morning. I once again reminded myself that it really isn't my issue. It is hers. She must have had some past experiences that caused her utter mistrust of others, and almost insane desire to be exalted high above everyone else around her, even to the detriment of the morale of her own team thereby hurting herself indirectly. So, I will protect her from doing that. Since I have tried confrontations which made things worse, or even tried to reasoning which ends up in me being totally exhausted and her having more justifications why she must continue to do the things she does, etc. The next best thing is to learn to roll with the punches, but to be a positive influence both to her and to the people around her, that is the team. Instead of succumbing to the negative influences that her belittling and her harsh tones can sometimes do to me, I will let God's Spirit work in me and through my life to bring peace, healing and blessing to the entire work place and the team. I will let God work His life through me and be transformed by Him to empower those around me so that we are lifted up and not torn down. So I choose to be God's transformation agent in the place that I find myself.

Frankly, I would rather be somewhere else doing the "transformation" thing. It would be so much easier to work in a less hostile environment, and be in "transformation" with other Christians, singing happy songs, and doing "spiritual" work. Somehow being in this apparent "hellhole" can be very demeaning, and transformation can look distastefully ugly or even unimaginably impossible. Yet God has called me to be the tranformation agent right here, first beginning with who I am, and then translating to how I respond to the trials, stresses and the chaotic work environment around me and onto the spheres of influence that I have the opportunity to impact. I may not even get to see any of my colleagues "converted" (in the conventional) as a result, but all he wants from me is to be faithful to being instrumental for them to feel the touch of the hand of God or catch a glimpse of His grace, mercy and love through what we go through together as a community of people at work together. That's all my Lord has called me to be and I pray that by His grace I can live up to that high calling.