I like to think I’m a fairly flexible person. I can soldier on in the face of change and adjust my expectations to most any new reality. I can even resign myself to misery if I have to as long as I know there’s an end in sight.
But I found myself really churned up about a change at work not long ago and I was mentally mapping out my exit strategy. I wasn’t going to adjust this time; I was checking out. Two weeks, three max. It was a matter of respect and honor and I wasn’t comprising.
Oh, yeah. I was all righteous.
And then the morning after this change was announced, I read an Oswald Chambers devotional based on John 15:12, “Love one another as I have loved you.” Chambers noted:
“God loved me not because I was lovable, but because it was His nature to do so.”
Then what he said next really slapped me in the face:
“[Jesus] is saying, ‘I will bring a number of people around you whom you cannot respect, but you must exhibit my love to them, just as I have exhibited it to you.’ ”
And that was exactly what He had done. He purposely put someone in my path I didn’t trust and wasn’t sure I could respect. Then He didn’t ask me if I wanted to exhibit Godly love. He commanded me to do so.
My “fairly flexible” was seriously challenged.
Jesus expected me to show His love toward this person? Surely He didn’t mean it in this case!
In a workplace setting such as I am describing, “loving” would mean cooperating and showing respect to this new leader, regardless of my personal or professional feelings toward him. I was certain that was going to be impossible for me to do.Surely God could see that!
My argumentative side started gearing up but there was no getting around it. I was being called to respond in love, as Jesus would. Period. Not with bitterness or haughtiness. Not by being contrary and difficult. And certainly not by sounding off to others at work about it.
I couldn’t do it. But obviously God could.
And that was the whole point. I was going to have to access God’s power if I was going to love as Jesus loved. Clearly it wasn’t going to happen through an exercise of my will, while I gritted my teeth and clenched my fists.
The truth is I’ve got a lot of unattractive qualities myself and God loves me anyway, so I don’t get to be the final judge of how someone else’s flaws should be addressed.
If I believe God answers prayers that are in line with His will (I do), and if it is His will that we “Love one another as I have loved you” (it is), then certainly asking Him to show me how to love this person as God loves them is a prayer that He would answer, right? So I tried it.
How am I supposed to do this, Lord?
OVERDELIVER. That’s what He told me.
It’s easy to be difficult. That, I can do. What’s hard is going beyond what’s expected and working as unto the Lord (another command in scripture), doing my job for the glory of God even in difficult circumstances or for people I wouldn’t have chosen.
Don’t just endure? Don’t just tolerate? Go beyond?
Yes, a command is a command and coming from God, it is not negotiable.
He wasn’t asking me to compromise any principles or be disingenuous. Just do my job with all my heart and let Him handle the rest.
Okay, if You say so.
Now when I get all righteous and start questioning whether I REALLY have to love this person, I just remind myself, “Overdeliver”.
I refocus on excellence in my work, remembering who my real Boss is and – I don’t know why this surprises me – it’s not that hard.
God really did mean it.
Have you ever found yourself challenged to love (or respect or cooperate with) someone you didn’t even like? How did you respond? What would “over-delivering” look like for you in a situation like that?
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