I drive to work listening to gospel music on the contemporary Christian radio station. After parking my car in the designated space, I head to our building’s large glass entrance. Footsteps follow behind me, but I reach the door before Him and squeeze through, leaving Jesus standing on the outside.
I take a quick glance backward and see those scarred wrists pressed against the glass. He watches as I get on the elevator. Lianna Jackson is there so I turn to the side and begin a conversation. The elevator doors close on mechanical rollers – the same way they do every morning. I catch a glimpse of Jesus as He walks toward the gray stone bench positioned like a sentry next to the outlet I will take nine hours from now.
My first two hours are a whirlwind of crisis meetings. How did this day get so out of control, so early? I glance out the window. A figure on a stone bench looks up toward my window. A coworker carrying a phonebook-size stack of papers comes through the door and diverts my attention back to the morning calamity.
At ten o’clock, I grab a cup of coffee from the courtesy center. Lianna is taking dainty nibbles from a chocolate éclair. How can she consume rich calories like that and keep so slim? Another complaint to add to my grievance heap. She’s probably bulimic anyway. A shadow passes over the sun and a light rain begins to fall.
On the way back to the meeting, I notice a solitary figure standing under the overhang of the roof. Jesus turns and looks straight at me. His look is one of tenderness and, yet, disappointment. This building has so many windows.
The next few hours involve some tough choices that may hurt the company’s balance sheet. No one on the team seems particularly thrilled with the decisions made and, if the bottom line goes south, I know who will get the blame. Why me?
By lunch time I’m irritable and cross. The soda machine receives a piece of my wrath as it swindles me out of hard earned currency. As I chomp down on a too-dry turkey sandwich, I find myself traveling down a familiar thought highway. Is there any way to escape occupational servitude in white collar purgatory? Two members of my team become the victims of my discontent. A few veiled criticisms help me to feel better – temporarily, at least.
Jesus comes around to the lunch room window. He makes a gesture to obtain my attention but I don’t have the time; my focus is elsewhere.
Time for serfs to return to their labor. My liege (otherwise known as Theodore Wood, supervisor with a highly inflated salary) is waiting for me. What pound of flesh does he want now? I quickly run through a list of sins of omission and commission. Why do I feel so defenseless?
Theodore gives me a smile. Do tigers smile before they eat their victims? “Just wanted to come by and tell you what a creative bit of crisis management that was this morning. That was a job well done.” I mumble something about team effort and Ted threads his way through the cubicle maze back to his corner office in the upper management district of the floor.
Before I have a chance to lift my jaw from the floor, the UPS man comes by with a delivery. He’s a fellow member of my church. Nice guy. Still absorbed in my encounter with Ted, I smile and sign for the package. He smiles back and says, “Oh, I saw Jesus out front. He said to say ‘Hi!’ Just wanted you to know He was thinking of you.” Brown uniform departs and I’m freed to analyze Ted’s affirmation.
I admit. I’m surprised – shocked might be a better term! Not that I haven’t earned it, but praise isn’t something you expect from the corner office. Management isn’t known for its astute observation of talented people. But Ted’s right; I did come through for them this morning. Perhaps a little appreciation will eventually make its way to my bi-weekly envelope. Lord knows, I certainly deserve it.
My chin held a little higher, I grab a folder and head for the west side of the building. The afternoon is sprinting forward and I better get that proposal copied for distribution to the section heads. I’m fourth in line, so I join a conversation in progress on the new receptionist at the front door. Someone repeats the old jest about blondes, computer screens, and white out.
My turn! To avoid being mesmerized by the steady rhythm of paper, light, gears and stapling, I glance out the window toward the park. A figure in white carrying something from one of the local sidewalk vendors walks toward a cardboard box. A scruffy hand and unshaven face appear from the side of the box. There’s a brief conversation. A hand to the shoulder. Then a transfer of hot dog and soda. Thank God, it isn’t me.
Returning to my desk, I find an avalanche of paperwork. Lord Theodore Wood has visited serfdom and left new chores to complete. Some people have an “IN” box. Mine is an “IN-credible” box. I grab a chocolate power bar to stave off the weariness. Boy, I could use some energy right now. I notice the drizzle has stopped. It looks sunny outside.
At 3:15 Monica’s face appears from over the mound of folders. Leave of absence! Why does she need a leave of absence? Oh, ‘with child’ again! Her work load will have to be distributed among the team. I wonder how much will become my burden? Don’t people think about how their choices affect others?
End of the day – I’m pooped, run down, tired, exhausted, fatigued, faint and running out of synonyms. Pulling my coat from the hook, I head through the exit. The brightness of the sun temporarily hurts my eyes. That’s the problem with office buildings with smoked glass. I turn and find Jesus walking with me. He greets me with a smile, but I’m in no mood for Him now. I’ve just been to hell and back and the last thing I want to do is be bothered with anyone. God, I hope He isn’t going to be chatty on the way home.
Sometimes our jobs engulf us. We feel overwhelmed, alone, self-righteous, or bitter. We know it shouldn’t be this way and we shouldn’t be this way.
You are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. People don’t light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on a stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. – Matthew 5:13-15.
Our words and actions in the workplace say quite a bit about who and whose we are. Instead of light we often bring darkness. Instead of peacemakers we become the cause of hurt. Instead of serving others, we end up serving a paycheck, an organization, or our own advancement. We know we should be the ones to bring our gifts & talents to the table to help others, but we have nothing to offer.
Do you “take Jesus with you” to work? There is no area of life where we can safely leave Jesus on the outside. Our dear Lord is our life, our abundant life! How much we need that Life for the 40+ hours we spend in employment each week!
Whatever you do, work at it with ALL your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. – Colossians 3:23-24.