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Saturday, February 19, 2005

Of blessings and curses

Recently I recounted some of the things that my now former boss did in the past few weeks and months which particularly irked me. She has always been on a rampage in the office against us her underlings. One of the worst things she did, that perhaps started my downhill slide, was this...

From about August last year, I began to follow-up on an old client of mine who had just moved to a new company. I kept in touch with her and got her interested in what we could do for her company. By November, I had the opportunity to make presentations to her new company, but since this opportunity had the potential of being quite a large one, I spent quite a great deal of time on it, and because the opportunity was in NorCal, I had to fly a couple of times to the Bay Area.

My boss at the time was chiding me for spending too much time on one single opportunity and also spending too much money on it. She kept warning me, "What if?"

"What if we don't get the deal? What if they went somewhere else?"

Just imagine you were a basketball player and you had the ball on the court - and the coach kept yelling at you from the side line, "What if you don't make the basket? What if they triple-team you?"

Throughout the time, Dragon Lady (aka my former boss) was not supportive of anything I did for this account. She reluctantly gave me permission, and only at the last minute, to fly out to do the presentations. Just imagine, you have to confirm with the client for a meeting on the Wednesday and you did not know if you were able to fly out until 2 pm on the Monday. Then too, you had to make all your travel arrangements, including charge the air flights on your own credit card and then later you get to be told off for not getting good flights and having to spend nearly half a day away for an early morning business meeting.

By December it seemed clear that all my efforts were coming to fruition. It seemed the client was now ready to consider our offer seriously. Guess what? Dragon Lady became all interested in the deal now. The deal is going to be the largest single deal this small consulting company had ever made.

It would be over half a million dollars, with in excess of three hundred thousand dollars in the first phase. Dragon lady decided that she was going to take over account and I was to play only a supporting role. Then in the past few weeks, she decided that since I was making mistakes (which was not at all true, but she either seriously thought it or deviously used it as an excuse), she would take over the account completely. By then, she doesn't need any more assistance from me, and the deal is by all intents and purposes "in the bag."

Since the new compensation plan that she put together this year for the sales team is to have commission calculated and paid on a quarterly basis, she effectively wrestled the commissions from me. A rule of the compensation plan is that an employee must be currently employed with the company to receive commissions. That means, by letting me go, she has effectively robbed me of my commissions as well, not just for this deal but for all the other sales I had achieved the past couple of months.

It hurts so much as I think of all these things. But I am thinking about all these things in relation to my reflection on the passage of Scripture (Rom 12: 17-21) where Paul says:
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Some thoughts ran through my mind as I read this passage. One is, did I do the wrong thing by confronting Dragon Lady? Did I return evil for evil? My intention was to stand up to her and not allow her to continue to "walk all over me." But perhaps I was a tad selfish? Perhaps I could have given her more grace ("feed your enemy if he is hungry, etc."). Perhaps, I should have turned the other cheek?

Earlier when I meditated on "Vengeance is Mine," I suggested then that it does not necessarily mean we need to wait for final vindication for those who wronged us. Nor does it necessarily mean that we are letting God bring punishment to those who are acting unjustly against us.

However, we are to offer grace and mercy to those who treats us unjustly, who slander us, and who robs us because when Christ died on the cross, He consummates that Ulimate Vengeance. For us who are Christ followers, for us who believe in the efficacy of the death of Christ over the sin of the world, Vengeance is not in the future, it is in the past. Vengeance is not to be completed, it is already completed.

"It is Finished," He said, and that final victory that He brought about applies right now to all those circumstances when people are unjust. He died for the pain, the injustice and the disenfranchisement, and when we forgive, when we bless, and when we return good for evil, we complete what His death accomplished. We are able to let His death be effective in its redemptive power even in these unjust situations.

So, I wonder, did I allow Him to redeem my situation, or was I too hasty in trying to take justice in my own hands? Did I bring about this mess upon myself? Am I a victim of my own selfishness, and because I did not want to let my boss walk all over me, have I now put my own family in jeopardy and let fear and trepidation trample over us? I am not really sure. What I can be sure of is that Christ died for my sin, my shame, my guilt and my pain. Right now I am hurting in so many ways, confused, embattled, and struggling--drowning--in doubts and desperation. I might have been guilty of my own selfishness and of returning evil to Dragon Lady's evil towards me.

As I think of the unfair treatment that she dished out at me, and of the many thousands of dollars that she had robbed from me, I just need to know that Christ's death on the cross is Vengeance enough for the hurt, the pain and injustice. I need to let God's grace wash over me and bless Dragon Lady, asking God to give her success, and prosperity. In so doing, I will heap coals on her head. Of course it would have been more effective to do so while working for her, and more effective and powerful witness to bless her while still in her employ.

However, even if I might have been selfish in the past few weeks, and had forgotten to let Christ strength empower me under the pressure of the oppression, I now need to move forward, letting His blood cover me from further pain, aggravation and ire, and praying for Dragon Lady and the company. For after all, if the company succeeds not only will Dragon Lady enjoy the fruits of the success, but so will my former colleagues and even my former clients.

Earlier Paul said (verse 14),
"Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse."
I did walk away from the office without uttering a curse, although I must say I so wanted to. I did walk away from there in relatively good terms. I must say, I did not actively bless the business nor Dragon Lady when I left. When she extended her hands to shake mine and wished me well, I so wanted not to take it, but I did. I never wished her well though. I guess it is not too late to do that now.
"Lord I believe, help my unbelief. Lord I (want to) bless, help my (inclination to) curse."


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