Has anyone ever not had a difficult person to deal with?
Difficult people appear everywhere, at work, school, church. The entertainment industry has its fair share of them.
Difficult people can make life very … well … difficult.
School bullies can be quite sophisticated in their verbal and physical attacks. The foreigner, the bright student or the ‘different’ kid are all fair game.
There’s the overbearing committee member, insistent on getting their own way. Choir and theatre groups can have that one toxic personality who makes life miserable for everyone.
And then there’s the difficult people at work.
We can’t easily avoid them and reporting or confronting bad behaviour may lead to ostracism or even the loss of your own job. It can get very unpleasant. And complicated.
But it’s one thing to have to put up with such a person on your own behalf. Seeing someone else having a hard time, being discriminated against and harrassed – that can be worse.
A story from the HR manager of a large company
The HR manager’s job was to ensure staff were treated well and fairly. He had an open door policy and employees knew they had a safe place to talk, about work and personal problems. Most of them knew he was a Christian but he didn’t make a big deal of it. Some of them knew that he regularly attended the weekday evening service at a church near his workplace.
One day a man sat in the HR office, in tears, telling of his completely unexpected dismissal from his job. Seems the boss didn’t like some of his lifestyle choices – which were nothing to do with his work – and had summarily dismissed this longstanding hardworking employee.
Just like that. You can imagine the distress.
The HR manager was deeply troubled as he listened and tried to reassure the employee. This was not the first time this kind of thing had happened. The boss was known as a harsh man, quick to judge, demanding and often quite unreasonable.
At the end of the day the HR manager left work and went to the evening service at the church down the road. The time of quiet worship and reflection was a blessed contrast to the stress and problems of his day.
He sat quietly and prayed, asking God how to deal with this situation and this difficult person. He knew he had to do something against such injustice and unkindness.
As the music and liturgy enfolded him he heard a voice: ‘Take me with you. Take me with you.’ It was God speaking.
The next day he did indeed take God with him to speak to the boss about this unfair sacking. The boss listened impatiently and responded by saying, ‘Your problem is, you’re a Christian.’
Taken aback the HR manager asked, ‘What do you mean by that?’
A discussion ensued. Not just about legal obligations but also about moral and decent ways of dealing with staff. Perhaps the boss was a little less hard on the staff after that but it was a slow process.
The HR manager soon left that job and lost contact with the place. Several years later he met the boss again in another context and was surprised that he had not forgotten this ‘problem Christian’.
They engaged in a conversation. God had obviously been working away in this man’s heart over the years and his attitude towards the former HR manager and Christianity had softened.
Because the HR manager did indeed take God with him to the situation.
I guess we only have to ask him and he will come with us. We can take him anywhere. Anywhere at all.
Sheelagh Wegman is a freelance writer and editor. She is in the community of St David’s Cathedral in Hobart and lives in the foothills of kunanyi/Mt Wellington.
Sheelagh Wegman’s previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/sheelagh-wegman.html